Saturday, August 14, 2010

Richard Glover is Australia's best radio interviewer

I had promise. Mike Carlton was peerless.

But now, Glover is the best.

Because he gets in people's heads (as you should) and couldn't give a stuff about #hesaidshesaid

Here he is with Julia Gillard the other week.

It's better to listen.

PM: Good afternoon, Richard.

HOST: What parts of you do you feel you haven’t managed to communicate thus far?

PM: Look I think it’s a question of how forcefully and with how much determination I want to explain to the Australian people my plans for our future. There’s a lot of orthodoxy about political campaigning, that you run a risk-adverse campaign. Tony Abbott’s doing that you know. He said yesterday on TV oh look I’m being kept under control effectively. Look, I want to throw away that rule book, be out and about meeting people, talking to people, making myself available. There are about 20 days left in this election campaign. I think the future of the nature will be defined by who wins, you know, what happens next with our economy, with jobs, with schools, with hospitals, but how we tackle the big challenges of the future. So I’m going to be pushing on that.

HOST: Okay, you accept that up to this point you have allowed yourself to be controlled.

PM: Look, I accept that up to this point I’ve gone with the standard campaign model, which is you go out for a press conference and an event each day and the whole focus is to try and make sure there are no gaffes, no problems, very risk averse. My style is to play my own game, to be out there, taking a few risks, being passionate about it.

HOST: Hang on, your style is obviously not to play a few risks if you’ve managed to be controlled thus far.

PM: Look, I have decided to chuck away the rule book that comes with modern political campaigning, yes.

HOST: You’re admitting to me that someone’s had you under the thumb up til now?

PM: Oh look, what I’m saying to you is that I’ve adopted so far the campaigning style that is the orthodoxy in modern politics. What I’ve said during the campaign are things I believe in. No-one can make words come out of my mouth. But for the future, what I want to do is be out there, very visibly, day after day, making myself available, talking to the Australian people, that’s a change of style. And I also want to be out there on the substance, the big things, that make a difference for this nation’s future and we’ve dealt with, you know, two really big policies today.

HOST: If we can just go to this change of style for a second longer, Prime Minister, if you’re saying to me that somebody else has been running else has been running your campaign, who has been running it, if you haven’t been?

PM: What I’m saying to you is that I’ve gone with the orthodoxy of modern campaigning. Of course we have, and we will continue to have, people doing things for the campaign. We’ve got a campaign headquarters that’s taking thousands of calls and emails, people wanting policy documents, people assisting our candidates get material out that explain our policy for empowering school principals, that explain our policy for better family benefits, I mean those things –

HOST: Sure, but head office gave you bad advice, do you feel now?

PM: No, I’m not saying, what I’m saying to you is, the orthodoxy of modern campaigning is to do an event for the media each day and that’s basically it. And you know, Tony Abbott is doing that too. I can’t make that point too strongly to you and he admitted yesterday on TV that basically, yes, he’s been contained. They don’t want the real Tony Abbott out there spruiking WorkChoices, so you know, for myself, I want to bust out of that and I believe I am busting out of that.

HOST: If someone is so easily contained by someone like Mark Arbib for the first couple of weeks –

PM: No, no, you are –

HOST: Then are they a real candidate for Prime Minister?

PM: No you are, you are putting an assumption on this which is not the right assumption. What I’ve said to you is that, you know, in modern campaigning if you talk to Brian Loughnane at the Liberal Party he would say there is a style in modern campaigning and it is the style that I‘ve described. I’ve just decided to change the style. I’ve also decided to make sure we’ve got some big ideas out there for the future. I’ve spent a large part of the last three years as Education Minister before I became Prime Minister, tackling the too hard basket for Australian schools – national curriculum, MySchool, transparency, things people had wanted to do for 30 years and hadn’t got done. I’ve put another big policy out today about empowering school principals, and another big policy out about modernising our family tax benefit structure so that we are not working on a model that says that kids kind of leave school at 16, which is what our current model does.

HOST: Obviously education’s the extremely important, but you’re hobbled by the fact aren’t you that from the very beginning, on things like asylum seekers and carbon policy you seem to be tethered to Tony Abbott? You seem to be fighting over this middle ground in which you’re not presenting Labor voters with a distinctive message on either of those important things.

PM: Oh Richard, I don’t agree with that at all. So excuse me for being a little bit feisty and argumentative, but on asylum seekers, Tony Abbott is trying to peddle you a slogan and pretend it’s true. He’s wandering around –

HOST: He’s sending them to Nauru, you’re sending them to East Timor.

PM: No, no, no. Tony Abbott

HOST: Maybe.

PM: Tony Abbott is on TV every day, his ads as well, saying he will stop the boats. And even his own former Immigration Minister, Phillip Ruddock, who was Immigration Minister for so many years has admitted that’s not possible. People smugglers are evil people. They know if a boat’s going to be stopped, that what they’re going to do is scuttle the boat and then our brave defence personnel dive in the water to save women and children and people who are in trouble and they put themselves at risk. That’s you know, Tony Abbott’s peddling a slogan. I’m peddling, or talking about, peddling’s not the right word, I’m talking about a plan that will make a long-term difference. I’m specifically saying it’s not a quick fix. I’m not trying to be anything other than factual about the problem. Tony Abbott’s out there talking about an armada of boats and a peaceful invasion. I’m making the factual point, using Julian Burnside’s words that at current rate of arrivals it will take 20 years to fill the MCG. But having said that, I don’t want people making that dangerous journey. I don’t want people smugglers to have a product to sell. That’s why I want a regional processing centre, so, you know, boats don’t leave those foreign shores.

HOST: Don’t you agree that with both the big problem solving exercises, the mining tax and the asylum seeker, you got well ahead of what you’d actually achieved in your announcements to the Australian people. The mining tax was announced as solved when it wasn’t really solved. It was solved for three miners, not the rest of them, and the asylum seekers was solved in the sense that you really had only had one phone call to those people in East Timor?

PM: Well Richard I said in my speech on asylum seekers there’s no quick fix. This is going to take some time. I never went to the Australian people and said, you know, 24 hours, here’s a fix here. That’s Tony Abbott’s way to be that misleading. That’s not my way. I’ve been clear with the Australian people about what we’re doing and we’re having a dialogue with East Timor –

HOST: I think the implication in that first speech was that you had proceeded matters a bit further than one phone call.

PM: Well I’m content to rely on the words of the speech and you and I will have to differ on that. On you also said to me, well climate change, is there a difference on climate change. Well, you know, excuse me, I believe in climate change. I believe in the science. Tony Abbott’s described the science as “absolute crap”.

HOST: At other times he’s said he has an identical view to you, that he believes in it.

PM: Well I’ve always believed in it. His closest colleagues describe him as a weathervane who works out his position on climate change depending on how he thinks the issue is running in that day’s newspapers. I’ve said –

HOST: But how is that different to you and the Government of which you are a part and which advocated this policy and then dumped it when the polls showed it wasn’t as quite as popular as it had been?

PM: Well certainly we’ve faced real difficulties, real difficulties delivering the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. We lost the consensus in Parliament House. Mr Abbott came to the Liberal leadership by one vote and then the Liberal Party wouldn’t vote for the legislation even though they’d shaken hands on a deal to do so. But what’s the difference now - I believe in climate change. I believe we need to put a cap on carbon pollution. I believe we need a market based mechanism to do that. I’m going to lead the national debate to take us there and get the community consensus to do it. In the meantime, we’ve got some huge projects that we want to invest in, record investments in solar and renewables. I want to put a $1 billion into the transmission lines to get that clean green energy from the remote parts of the nation where it’s generated to you and me and everybody else who needs energy.

HOST: Would you agree that the Citizens Council looks just like an attempt to put all these decisions off for a year?

PM: Well certainly not, no. And once again let’s actually go to what I announced. Yes I said we needed a deep and lasting community consensus on climate change and that a Citizens Assembly wouldn’t be the determiner of what we did, but would be one thing that helped us develop that consensus, something for Australians to be involved in. But you know that’s that much of our policy. Sorry, hand gestures don’t really work well on radio. That’s a small part of a broad suite of policies, transmission lines to get solar and renewable energy to you and me and households around the country, no more dirty coal fired power stations, giving –

HOST: Well no more new ones but if they’ve been approved and not yet built they’ll still be built under this proposal.

PM: Yep well but no more new ones, absolutely because we’ve got –

HOST: Yeah but all the ones that we’ve got will still belch out their carbon.

PM: Well we’ve got to give the industry certainty about the new developments for the future –

HOST: There’s a way to give them certainty. It’s called a carbon tax.

PM: Yes and in order to do that and, well, number one – Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme would have had a market mechanism to price carbon – couldn’t get it through the National Parliament. You want to know why – ask Tony Abbott because it’s Tony –

HOST: You could have kept on. Just because the Senate turns you down is no reason to drop a policy, you could have kept on with it.

PM: Well, and let me explain why I formed the view that we needed to develop a deep community consensus, rather than a political consensus. If we are going to do the transformative things that putting a cap on carbon pollution will require of our nation we can’t have that done on the swings of a political pendulum. That you put a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in for three years, then the government changes and then it’s gone again and then the other political party comes back and it’s back again. Our economy couldn’t take that which is why we need the deep and lasting community consensus. And I just to reinforce and in the meantime, you know, solar and renewable, transmission lines, no more dirty coal fired power stations, greener buildings, transforming the nation’s car fleet. These are amongst the things that we’ve announced during this election campaign.

HOST: When you say you acknowledge that there’s a sort of risk adverseness to campaigns, that’s not only about what you say and the manner in which you say it. It’s about the policies themselves isn’t it? And number one piece of risk adverseness was saying that we were not willing to go to an election and make the case for a carbon tax, lest the Opposition say, this could result in higher electricity prices and you didn’t have the courage to take that argument and try to win it.

PM: The question here is if we are going to do this transformation, of how we live and how we work, then we need it to be supported by a deep and lasting community consensus. We’re not talking about things that politicians in Parliament House, you know, can talk to each other about. We did that and that consensus didn’t last. It got smashed by Tony Abbott. If we’re going to make this deep change the best way of ensuring that deep change lasts is to make sure the community comes on board with us. I’m going to lead the national debate to get us there but we will not be standing still. We have put forward a big suite of climate change policies in this election. I understand that the public focus has been on the Citizens Assembly and I’d say to your listeners, look at all the rest. We have got some big-picture policies out there that’ll make a difference to the power that you turn on and that comes into your house, to the building you work there, and to how you travel when you go to work.

HOST: The Citizens Council idea has stolen a lot of oxygen from your other ideas. Should you have mentioned it to your Cabinet colleagues? It’s been suggested that that was one thing which you went with on your own and of course right at the beginning of this process you’d promised to be much more consultative than Mr Rudd had been.

PM: Well I’m not going to go into the details of Cabinet discussions because they’re confidential, but I will say this – we talked about climate change policy with my colleagues. I talked about it extensively and talked with them extensively about the need for a deep and lasting community consensus.

HOST: Did you mention the idea of a Citizens Council?

PM: I’m not going to the details of Cabinet discussions but –

HOST: Everyone else seems to leak from the Prime Minister.

PM: Well and ah, and you know what’s in the newspaper is what’s in the newspaper. Cabinet is confidential for a reason, but certainly with my colleagues I’ve had the discussion about the need for certainty as we move to a carbon pollution reduction scheme which means the community needs to come with us, which means if we’re re-elected and that’s – if, if we’re re-elected, I’ll lead this national debate and we will move when the Australian people and the Australian economy is ready.

HOST: Can I ask you about the leaks? The Liberal Party view I suppose is that a government which is leaking so much against itself cannot be put into power, it’s not responsible enough. What’s your answer to that?

PM: Oh, well let’s say number one, I’ve made it clear that if I’m elected Prime Minister on the 21 August, and this is a tough, close contest, you know, genuine photo finish material, l and people will be thinking about who they want to be prime minister on the 22 August – but if I’m elected on the 21 August I will run a traditional style of cabinet government. You’ll come into the room, you’ll have your say, you can be as frank as you like. Once you leave the room if you breathe a word then you’ll know longer have your job. That’s the style that I will run. Then on the –

HOST: But you know you’ve got rats in there, don’t you?

PM: Well, look I’m going to leave the, you, know the political chatter to others and I’ll run a government like that because I want to make sure we are strengthening our economy. There’s nothing more important to our economy, the future, than making sure that people have got jobs, making sure we’ve got the ability to improve services. When it comes to risk questions, Tony Abbott in the words of Peter Costello: ‘bored by economics’, ‘not up to economic questions’. Nothing more important to Australians than keeping the economy strong. I’m a member of a government that made the right economic choices when we were threatened with the global financial crisis. If we’d done what Mr Abbott wanted us to do , we would be like New Zealand now, deep recession, lots of people unemployed. We avoided that, we’ve got the better plan.

HOST: You’d agree though you could have spent that money, and maybe it was necessary to spend all that money, and maybe it had a good outcome but it would have had a better outcome if it had been wisely spent and not wasted in as it was in the BER Scheme and indeed the Home Insulation Scheme.

PM: Well some very broad brush statement there. Of course the home insulation scheme was a mess. I’ve acknowledged that publically before and it’s been shut down. The Building the Education Revolution Program I’ve certainly learned some things during the course of that and we’ve moved with things like commercial expertise being brought into the roll-out of Building the Education Revolution –

HOST: But we could have had 20 per cent more buildings had it been properly run. I mean –

PM: Well lets actually deal with the facts and we have a leading Australian businessman now, Brad Orgill, leading the Building the Education Revolution Task Force and he will provide a report. It will be provided before the election day. What I would say is this: yes, I’ve learned some lesions from Building the Education Revolution. I certainly have, but let’s not lose site of the fact either that there are literally thousands of schools around this country that now have twenty-first century libraries, new classrooms, new multipurpose halls who would not have had them if we hadn’t moved to stimulate the economy. And you know, I mean one small example, I was in Perth one day at a school. I met the builder, you know the head builder, the boss, he said to me he’d given his blokes redundancy notices and he withdrew those notices because Building the Education Revolution came on stream. Mr Abbott, no stimulus, those blokes would have been out of work. And at the very same school I was told by the Principal about the Librarian who had deferred her retirement, because she was so excited about getting to work in the new libray. Now these stories too –

HOST: The builder got such big profits he’s been able to send his kids to private schools!

PM: Oh, well look it’s a nice debating point, ah but you know look have I learned some things? Yes, I’ve learned some things. Have there been some problems? Yes, there have been. I’m going to be really honest and acknowledge that, but I don’t want us to lose sight of the fact that there are mums and dads with kids in schools around this country who are delighted by their Building the Education Revolution grant.

HOST: Yeah, I know you’ve got to go so let me ask you one final question. Every columnist in the country has been presenting their theories as to, about why your polls have suddenly gone down. What’s your theory?

PM: I’ve always said, and you know I said on the first day of this campaign: tough, close, contest. And I’ve said that at media interviews where the journalists were rolling their eyes like: ‘oh, gee’, you know, ‘how can she be telling us that’? I’d said it then because I always believed it.

HOST: Last week was particularly bad though, on a number of counts. What do you think was the count that cost you?

PM: Look obviously –

HOST: I mean I can listen but you don’t want me to?

PM: Look obviously we’ve got work to do and I am showing a great determination for the fight to come. I am in the fight of my life. Labor, the Labor Government is in the fight of its life. But the fight is about the future of the Australian Nation and I’m not going to analyse campaign questions, but I am going got say this: for the future I’m going to be leading this, leading it clearly by, from the front and I am going to leave no stone unturned because I’m not going to die wondering on the 22 August whether there is more I could have done to, you know, end up with a government that values jobs. We value jobs, Mr Abbott no valuing of jobs, he didn’t want to do stimulus that wants decency in work places. I brought decency to work places, Mr Abbott advocated WorkChoices and still believes in it and the list goes on. I’m investing in schools, investing in hospitals, with reform plans for both. He’s got cut-backs for both.

HOST: You go and unleash the real me onto the world.

PM: Thank you.

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