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Transcript of Joint Press Conference: Number 10 Downing Street, London: 7 April 2008: visit to London, Tibet, Republic, Olympics.

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Prime Minister of Australia


Joint Press Conference with British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, Number 10 Downing Street, London

07 April 2008

Subject(s): Visit to London, Tibet, Republic, Olympics


PM BROWN: Well thank you all very much. I am delighted to welcome Kevin Rudd to the United Kingdom. I am delighted that he and his wife Therese have been with us over the last few days.

Britain and Australia have interwoven histories. Kevin and I today agreed on an enhanced relationship to build a shared future. We share a vision about how we can work together to build better international institutions for the 21st century challenges.

We will engage our complementary networks of international partners and regional and multilateral organisations in this process. Specifically, our governments will collaborate in far greater detail in three key areas, beyond the enhanced security cooperation we have also agreed. On climate change where we will work together, on development and trade, where we believe that major advances can be made by working together in the next few weeks as well as years on the reform of international institutions and particularly on managing many of the changes that are necessary in the international economic system

So we are both committed to the reform of the international institutions to make that possible, and we agreed a number of measures that are set out in our Communique. First of all we agreed on the urgency of tackling climate change. We have a shared analysis of the threats that are posed by environmental neglect. We agree on the immense economic benefits in new jobs and industries which a global low carbon economy can bring. We have agreed to work together in close partnership to achieve a post 2012 international agreement on climate change by the end of next year and we will now collaborate on a range of areas where both of us working together can make a huge difference.

I am pleased that Prime Minister Rudd has agreed, and announced that Australia will join the international carbon action partnership. We will work together on clean energy technologies, particularly carbon capture and storage, where our research institutes will work in partnership on climate sciences. Scientists from the Hadley Centre of the United Kingdom, that office will collaborate with Australian counterparts on climate modelling. And we both support the establishment of a

strategic climate fund at the World Bank.

On development we have agreed that we will work together in the International Health Partnership on education for all so that millions more of the world’s young children can go to school for the first time. And we have discussed how we can deal with some of the great challenges that determine mortality and malaria and many of the diseases where we have the science to eradicate the diseases but have not yet shown that we have the political will to do so.

We agreed that a world trade deal is urgently necessary. And we will work together to achieve that deal hopefully within the next few weeks.

We discussed Afghanistan where we have common ground, because both of us are engaged in civil and military deployments in these areas, so that we can show that the front line against the Taliban is being properly supported. And we agreed that we will continue to cooperate on many of the great security issues of the time.

Kevin, it has been a privilege to welcome you and your wife here to London. We thank you for coming within such a short time of assuming government in Australia. We congratulate you on the major announcements you have already made as Prime Minister, on the environment and on the economy as well as on international development and we look forward to a fruitful and constructive partnership and will welcome you back any time to London, that you are able to come and join us.

PM RUDD: Thanks very much Gordon and thank you for the hospitality with which you have received us here in London.

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And it is great to be back in London. I have been here many times over the years and I look forward to being back here in the future as well.

The Australia Britain relationship is in first class working order. We have a great history of cooperation with one another, going back over a long, long time.

The focus of our discussions has not been to reflect on the history, but to plan our common future. The bilateral relationship is in strong working order. It is a close relationship, it is an intimate relationship and it will continue that way to the advancement of our respective national interests.

But what we have discussed today is how to broaden that relationship beyond the bilateral. To broaden it into a new period of cooperation between Britain and Australia in shaping the global order. And that is why we have spent so much time these last several days, discussing what we can do together in response to challenges on global financial markets, challenges to the global economy in terms of the current trade round and opportunities, challenges on global poverty in terms of where we go with the Millennium Development Goals, challenges globally, on the question of climate change and also where we go to more broadly in our cooperation across the global agenda.

If you look at Britain and Australia, we are countries of enormous complementary strengths. We are both allies of the United States, we know our friends in Washington very well. At the same time, Britain is strongly engaged in Europe and strongly engaged in high councils in Brussels.

We Australia, are strongly engaged in East Asia and have been as a consequence of our own regional circumstances. Therefore we bring these strengths to the table because most global outcomes hang at the end of the day on what happens from the Americans, what happens in Europe, what happens in the Asia Pacific region.

There is much for us to bring together to the table. So what we have agreed is that in terms of the coordination of our positions, on these key global challenge areas of development on climate change and on the international economy and elsewhere, we will now look at machinery to bring us closer together in coordinating those positions because I believe we are forces for good in the world.

On the specifics of the agenda, as Gordon has just indicated, our troops are in the field together in Afghanistan and currently in Iraq. We respect enormously the contribution of our fellow British combatants in Afghanistan and we have had extensive discussions on how to take that forward in Bucharest. On climate change, we have confirmed today that Australia will be joining the International Carbon Action Partnership.

We have also agreed that we will work together more intensively on the question of CCS, carbon capture and storage. Critical here, critical for Australia, critical for our friends in Norway, with whom we have been having discussions on this in recent days, critical in the United States, and in terms of climate change for China in the future, critical, in particular there.

Also we have the time ticking away on Copenhagen. Copenhagen, when you look at it, it lies barely 18 months away. It was hard enough to get this current round of negotiations started in Bali. The conclusion of these discussions on a post 2012 arrangements for climate change will be very difficult indeed and we intend to work closely together on it.

On international development, Gordon’s leadership in this area goes back a long, long time, through the period that he was Chancellor. One of the things that we would like to sign up to which Britain has been so strong in global leadership on is the International Health Partnership.

And one of the applications of that which we have discussed at length this morning is what it will do in the area of avoidable maternal deaths. There is something like half a million deaths each year, I am advised, from women in childbirth and this is simply an obscene number which we the community of nations should do something about.

Within this international health partnership we propose to partner with the UK in making sure that this becomes a key achievable area of progress against the Millennium Development Goals.

The other initiative which Britain has been particularly in support of is education for all. Particular emphasis in Britain’s case on Africa, we intend to do something parallel in the case of the Asia Pacific region and the Pacific Island countries in particular.

International financial markets and trade has been the subject of extensive discussions between us over the last several days. We believe that on the global financial crisis and the upcoming meeting of the IMF in Washington, that it’s critical that we achieve global outcomes, particularly in the areas of valuation, particularly in the areas of transparency and the other challenges associated with the global economy right now.

And trade, I would suggest that both Gordon and I will be very active on the telephone in the weeks ahead as we try together, with our friends and partners across the world, to forge what I believe is a critical outcome necessary for the global economy. If we can pull off a global free trade deal now, in the midst of so much global economic uncertainty, this

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will be a great shot in the arm for the global economy. And our combined diplomacies in Geneva and in capitals, will be headed in this direction in the period ahead. Thank you Gordon for your hospitality. I look forward to this new page, this new stage in the Australia-UK relationship.

PM BROWN: Thank you very much this is definitely a new chapter that we are entering into today with regular and clear procedures for cooperation over the next period of time.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM BROWN: Well let me first of all pay tribute to the police who managed a difficult situation well yesterday. This is a democratic country, people in this country are free to express their opinions within the law. I think it is important to recognise that there are strong feelings about Tibet and about what is happening there.

I have raised the concerns I have about the human rights situation in China every time I have talked to Chinese leaders and I was in China a few months ago to do that. We will continue to do so.

As far as Tibet is concerned, we would call for restraint and an end to violence. We believe that the human rights dialogue has got to continue and be stepped up and we would welcome discussions between the Dalai Lama and his supporters and the Chinese authorities to bring reconciliation in this area.

JOURNALIST: Alison Carrabine, Fairfax Radio. Prime Minister Rudd you have voiced your support for an Australian Republic but you won’t be pinned down on the timing of a referendum, are you not defying the majority of Australian public opinion in pushing the referendum off into the never never, can you commit to framing a question in this term of government and Prime Minister Brown, to you sir, does it not surprise the British people that a country as politically mature as Australia is still not willing to stand on its own two feet?

PM RUDD: What a great pair of questions. I am sure Gordon will answer that in his own time. Look on the question of the republic. I am a life long republican. First point. Second is, it is absolutely clear in the Australian Labor Party platform, that is where we intend to go. Thirdly, I also honour the commitments I made before the last election when asked this, I said, for us it was not a top order question.

We were elected, we are now the Government. From our point of view, given the other priorities in the global economy, the domestic economy, the challenges in education and health and climate change and water. In Australia, these are occupying the full attentions of Government right now.

I expect that in the course of the year ahead, you will have an accelerating public debate about the republic and I welcome that, we should do that, we are a democracy and we will be looking carefully at the way in which that debate unfolds. But we have other fish to fry right now in terms of the priorities back home.

But let me tell you, once a republican, always a republican, these questions are a matter of time and due process.

PM BROWN: This is a matter for the Australian people. We welcome the strength of the relationship between our two countries, we believe that that relationship is stronger. For them, decisions about the future are a matter for the Australian people.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister (inaudible) calling for more help from the US, the UK and South Africa, how does your meeting (inaudible)

PM BROWN: Well first of all on Zimbabwe, I had a meeting with President Mbeke yesterday and we discussed all the issues effecting Zimbabwe. I have also to talked to the President of Uganda, Museveni. I have been in touch with Mr Kikwete who is the President now of the African Union. I have kept in contact with Kofi Annan who is the mediator who worked very hard in Kenya to bring an end to the violence that happened after the elections there. I think two things are very important now.

First of all the results have got to be published, there cannot be further delays in the publication of results. I think the international community is, the eyes of the world are on Zimbabwe and results that are being, the results that will be the outcome of elections should be published.

The second thing I think is clear is, there has got to be a report about the monitoring of the elections from the (inaudible) Group and if there is to be a second round of elections, it is very important that there is proper international monitoring of what is happening.

And I believe that these are the two things that the international community can ask for and it is right for us to do so. I will continue my talks with the African leaders that I have mentioned and I believe that there is a united will of the international community that elections have got to seen to be fair, elections results have go to be published. Elections have got to be properly monitored.

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You asked also about the announcement in the next few minutes about nurses pay. We are breaking (inaudible) conditions in the current global financial turbulence that we are facing. Where there is stability in Britain and where we have low inflation and low interest rates. And as a result of the decisions that we made which were controversial on public sector pay last year, we have lower inflation than our major competitors and interests rates have managed to come down twice.

I think it's important looking forward that we also create the conditions for low inflation and to relieve pressure on interest rates. That's why I think three year deals on public sector pay are an important element of what we can do to contribute to a low inflation economy that is stable and able to withstand the global financial turbulence. That's why I am pleased that the teachers have a three-year deal, public sector civil servants have a three year pay deal, the Department of Work and Pensions and the Job Centre staff have a three year deal and I look forward to the announcement that the nurses will have a three year pay deal as well.

Now these are the first times in the memory of our country that we've had these three-year pay deals. These are important to stability. I think they will be seen as a landmark in allowing us to move forward in the battle against inflation. I think it will give a certainty to our economy at a time when there is uncertainty around the world. And it shows that we can deal with the challenges ahead and deal with them in a long-term way that is to the benefit of the nurses who deserve proper settlements and proper pay for the work that they do and the interests of the whole economy which needs the stability that such a deal will give.

JOURNALIST: David Crowe from the Australian Financial Review. I have a question to both Prime Ministers about China. You both play down the idea of boycotting the Opening Ceremony and Mr Rudd, you said that won't work. But wouldn't you acknowledge, both acknowledge, that (inaudible) against South Africa in the 1970 boycotts did work. What's different here, are you too scared to use a lever that has worked in world affairs in the past and a related issue, yesterday amid the protests, Mr Brown didn't take hold of the Olympic flame. I wonder Mr Rudd will do so when you, when the flame gets to Australia? And in Australia, will the flame be guarded by a dozen Chinese bodyguards?

PM BROWN: One of the differences between now and previous times is that the Dalai Lama who is a the centre of some of this controversy has said very clearly that he does not want the boycott of the Olympics and I think there is a general view that a boycott of the Olympics would not assist this current situation, that most important thing that there is dialogue between the Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama and his supporters.

And remember the basis of this is that the Dalai Lama has made it clear that he does not wish there to be an independent Tibet, he is prepared to accept this part of China and that he renounces violence as well as of course, that he doesn't want a boycott of the Olympics.

So there is a basis for dialogue around these very difficult issues where we again call will for restraint and call for reconciliation. As far as the torch is concerned it was always agreed as part of the exercise of coming around the different countries that the torch is passed between athletes as it was at Downing St, and that's what happened yesterday but I was pleased to be part of the ceremony where it happened.

PM RUDD: On the question of boycotts, I agree with the position that Gordon has just put. The first thing to bear in mind is what the Dalai himself has said and our position, and the British Government and others is that there needs to be a renewed process of dialogue between the Dalai's representatives and the representatives of the Chinese Government.

Secondly on the historical question of Olympic boycotts, is anyone suggesting that the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan eventually because of what happened the 1980 Olympics in Moscow? I don't think so.

It's my general view that these things at the level of the Olympics don't work. On the second question about the Olympic torch going to Canberra I think it's arriving in Canberra on the 24th of April as I understand it. That day we have in Sydney the memorial service for HMAS Sydney. That has been announced quite some time ago if you're aware. The Sports Minister as I'm advised will be receiving the flame in Canberra, or the torch, in Canberra when it comes through.

Britain's circumstances are obviously somewhat different. They are hosting the next Olympics and I think that places their situation in a somewhat different context to perhaps a number of other participating states.

Your third part of your question is about security forces. As the Attorney General said in Australia some weeks ago, we will not be having Chinese security forces or the Chinese security services providing security for the torch when it is in Australia. We, Australia will be providing that security. What Olympic officials the Chinese bring to Canberra is a matter for them but on the security front we will be providing that security.

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