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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Brisbane: 7 June 2011: Afghanistan; Julia Gillard's visit to the Northern Territory; Julia Gillard's carbon tax

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7 June 2011



Subjects: Afghanistan; Julia Gillard’s visit to the Northern Territory; Julia Gillard’s carbon tax.



I‟m just going to say a few words about the latest developments in Afghanistan and then I‟ll talk a little bit about the issues of the day and then I might ask Sophie and Ross to say to a few words and then take general questions.

Obviously we‟ve had more bad news from Afghanistan. The thoughts and prayers of all Australians are with our latest dead soldier and his family. This is a hard and bitter day for the families of the lost soldier and I just think that it‟s very important that all Australians grieve with the families of all of our soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan. We need to understand, though, that there is no such thing as casualty-free combat. What our troops are doing in Afghanistan is important for our nation, it‟s important for the whole world and while we are grieving today for this latest loss, we should also be proud that what our armed forces are doing in Afghanistan is significant not just for our country but for the wider world.

Are there any questions that people would like to ask about Afghanistan?


So, you think Australia should stay in Afghanistan for the long haul?


Look, our soldiers shouldn‟t stay longer than is necessary but it is necessary that they stay while there is an important job for them to do and while there is every reason to think that they‟re being effective. Now, I‟ve been now to quite a few military funerals. They are very, very sad occasions but I have not yet met a single serving soldier who isn‟t proud of the work that he and his comrades are doing and who doesn‟t think that it‟s important that we stay the course. Now, if that changes, I‟d expect them to tell me and obviously that would be something that I would be very conscious of when articulating the Coalition‟s policy.

Anything else on that subject? Ok.


Look, it‟s great to be here at Visy. This is a major recycling plant for the City of Brisbane and it‟s also a very important element of Australia‟s campaign to get emissions down. Now, while a plant like this is a plant that does produce emissions, it also saves emissions. In fact, for every tonne of carbon dioxide that is emitted in the paper recycling process, 1.6 tonnes of emissions reduction is achieved because that‟s paper that isn‟t going into landfill. So, a plant like this contributes to a net reduction in our emissions.

Unfortunately, a plant like this would be one of the many victims of Labor‟s proposed carbon tax. Now, this is yet another example of how Labor‟s carbon tax could have a perverse environmental outcome because it will make recycling more expensive, much more expensive, because it‟s an energy intensive process but by making recycling more expensive it will mean more paper goes into landfill and our net emissions increase, don‟t decrease. So, I think it‟s very important that people understand that Labor‟s carbon tax won‟t clean up the environment but it will clean out your wallet and it will wipe out jobs big time.

I‟d also just like to say that the Prime Minister is in Alice Springs. I think it‟s important that she go to Central Australia. I‟ve previously invited her to be part of a bipartisan joint visit to Alice Springs as a mechanism for a new intervention into the troubled townships of the Territory. I‟m disappointed that the Prime Minister has thus far chosen not to take up my offer of a joint visit to Alice Springs but nevertheless I think it is good that she is there. I do hope that while she is there, she won‟t just confine herself to official openings and to visiting town camps that may well have been cleaned up especially for her visit. I think it‟s important that she sees the downside of government policy as well as the upside of government policy. One of the things that I did when I was last in Alice Springs is take the hour or so to travel out to Santa Teresa and there I saw - and the Prime Minister should also see herself - just how shoddy the Strategic Indigenous Housing Programme has turned out to be, just what an embarrassment so much of the work is and frankly, this is third world standard work in what is supposed to be a first world country so I really hope that the Prime Minister won‟t just confine herself to official openings and cleaned-up parts of the town camps.

Finally, we‟ve got Wayne Swan at the Press Club today. I think it‟s very important that the Treasurer release all the modelling on the impact of a carbon tax on families. Now, it‟s all very well saying that our economy won‟t be absolutely flattened by a carbon tax but I tell you what, a lot of families will be because they know that they can‟t afford yet further increases in their power prices, they can‟t afford yet higher petrol prices and as certain as night follows day, power prices are going up, petrol prices are going up under a carbon tax and it doesn‟t matter how low the carbon tax starts, the only certainty is that it will go up and up and up because the people who are really driving this agenda are the Greens and the Greens say the carbon tax has got to be at least $40 a tonne to drive a shift from coal to gas and it‟s got to be at least $100 a tonne to drive a shift from fossil fuels to renewables and at those sorts of prices, the hit on Australians‟ cost of living is almost unimaginable.

So I might just ask Sophie to say a few words, followed by Ross.



It‟s great to be here at Visy, a first rate environmental corporate citizen. A carbon tax isn‟t about saving the planet, it is about a grubby deal to keep the Labor Party in power. That‟s why they don‟t care about recognising the important environmental and emission reducing activities here at Visy. That‟s why Visy is going to be punished instead of recognised for that important industry leading work that they are doing and there are thousands of jobs at stake. It‟s about time the Labor Party not only listened to manufacturing businesses, not only listened to the tens of thousands of manufacturing workers who know that this carbon tax won‟t save the planet but it will export their jobs.

It‟s time the Prime Minister listened to her own backbench. There are very nervous people in the Labor Party who are refusing to say publicly what they know in their heart of hearts and that is that workers in


their own electorates are going to lose their jobs, that businesses in their own areas are going to be exported overseas. I call on them to be public and to speak up for the tens of thousands of Australian workers that have voted for them and are relying on them to keep the Prime Minister honest. The Prime Minister doesn‟t have to listen to the Coalition, she just listens to her own backbench who are saying behind closed doors what they are too afraid to say in front of the camera.

So today we‟re here seeing what you can do with direct action, what a good corporate citizen can do by employing innovation and new technology to reduce emissions. That is the way forward and it‟s time the Prime Minister stopped playing political games with people‟s lives, livelihoods and millions of dollars of investment in recycling plants like this.


Thanks, Soph. Ross?


Well, thank you very much Tony and Sophie for being here in the electorate of Bonner and we‟ve seen 200 jobs here at Visy that are under jeopardy if this proposed carbon tax is passed through parliament. I just want to say that we should be here to encourage people like Visy to expand their plant and not to tax them and to make sure that plants like this continue in the future. Thank you very much for being here with me and supporting me in my electorate.


Ok and it‟s great to have a local member like Ross Vasta who is standing up for jobs in his electorate and similarly I think that Labor members should be standing up for the jobs in their electorates that will be threatened by a carbon tax. While I‟m here in Queensland I should call on Premier Bligh to reject the carbon tax which will do so much damage to the economy of Queensland, very badly damage the coal industry, almost wipe out the economy of Gladstone, do enormous damage to the economies of Townsville and Mt Isa as well. Now, Premier Bligh should stop making excuses for a bad Government in Canberra and should start standing up for the jobs and the industries of Queensland that will be damaged by Julia Gillard‟s carbon tax.

Any questions?


Is it embarrassing for you to come out with this on a day that those comments that you made in 2009 have been all over the media?


What I said was „if‟, „if‟ there was a carbon price. I didn‟t accept a carbon price then, I don‟t accept a carbon price now and I would remind people that I went to the last election saying no carbon tax and I‟ve been true to my word. The Prime Minister went to the last election saying no carbon tax and that‟s turned out to be a fundamental deception.


Do you think that campaigners, though, will use these comments against you and say you are in favour of a carbon tax?



Well, they‟ve already used those comments against me. I mean, as soon as I became leader the Labor Party trotted those comments out. They were trotted out again during the election campaign. Whenever the Labor Party is in trouble they trot those comments out. But let me repeat - what I said was „if‟, „if‟ there is a carbon price. But I didn‟t accept a carbon price then, I don‟t accept a carbon price now. I went to the last election saying no carbon tax, so did the Prime Minister; only I‟ve been truthful and she hasn‟t.


You don‟t think those comments will come back [inaudible]?


Well, as I said, those comments have been trotted out time and time again and the fact that the Labor Party has chosen to recycle those comments, and that‟s the only recycling that the Labor Party wants to support at the moment, the fact that the Labor Party has chosen to recycle those comments just shows that they know they are in desperate trouble.


But they won‟t hurt you in voters‟ eyes?


Well, I‟d ask voters to judge me on what I said before the election and to judge the Prime Minister on what she said before the election and what she said before the election was notoriously “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.” Frankly, if Q&A had been on the ball last night, if they want to show old comments of mine, they really should, in fairness, have shown old comments of the Prime Minister, particularly the comment six days before the election “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.”


In Wayne Swan‟s address to the Press Club today he is expected to say the impact of climate change is .1 of a per cent on GDP. How would you respond to this in light of those 2009 comments?


Treasury‟s own modelling shows that the impact on households will be $863 a year. Now, how many hard-pressed Australian households could suddenly shell out $863 a year and for what - a tax which is not going to help the environment but which is going to do enormous damage to Australian industries. I mean, let‟s never forget that a one-sided carbon tax here in Australia is not going to improve global emissions it‟s just going to damage Australians‟ cost of living and export our jobs.


But do you accept that overall the impact on the economy will be small?


No, I don‟t because the carbon tax is just going to go up and up and up. I mean his modelling, as I understand it, will be based on a carbon tax of $20 a tonne but the Greens say that it needs to be at least $40 a tonne to drive a shift from coal to gas and it needs to be at least $100 a tonne to drive a shift from fossil fuels to renewables. So, whatever modelling he releases today is going to be based on rosy scenarios which are unlikely to be realised in practice.