Transcript of Joint Doorstop – Hobart
KEVIN RUDD MP – FEDERAL LABOR LEADER
ANTHONY ALBANESE MP, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND WATER
ROBERT ARMSTRONG, HUON VALLEY MAYOR
24 SEPTEMBER 2007
E & O E – PROOF ONLY
Subjects: Water Announcement; Roads; Pulp Mill Report; Galaxy Poll; Climate Change; Election; Candidate for Franklin
RUDD: It’s good to be here with Anthony Albanese, our Shadow Minister for Water, with Julie Collins, of course our candidate here in Franklin, and Robert Armstrong, the Mayor of the Huon Valley. We’re here to talk about water and the importance of securing long-term water supplies for communities across Australia, and this part of Tasmania as well.
Labor, some time ago, announced a quarter of a billion dollar plan, our National Water Security Plan for Towns and Cities. This is a really important plan. Partly, it’s dedicated to how you can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of water pipes, urban water pipes, because there is a huge problem with leakage in certain parts of the country, and that, of course, affects the overall efficiency with which we use this nation’s scarce water resources.
Another part of what our proposal is is to assist local authorities where we partner in funding arrangements to improve local water supply. And, of course, we’ve looked at a particular proposal which has been brought forth by this local authority.
What we’re announcing today is a commitment of $12 million. That would be if we form the next government of the country, $12 million in partnership with $6 million from the local authority.
What does this do? Two major things. One is we need to improve the security of water supply to these communities. And that means that we need to invest more in the local water treatment plant. We need to invest more in the local reticulation system so it gets out to more users across this community.
The second reason goes to jobs and the future development of industry, such as this very important industry, Tassal. We need to make sure that Tasmania’s aquaculture industry is given every support. Important for Tasmania, important for this community, important for the country so that we make sure that industries like this have got a secure footing for the future.
I’m advised by the locals that somewhere between 500 and 700 people are employed by businesses in this industry, and that’s a really important contribution to the economy.
Water, for industrial use, is also critical. Therefore, it’s really important that we ensure that businesses like this can plan ahead with secure water supplies into the future.
I’m told, for example, that when it comes to the cleaning of salmon, that one of the key things is to make sure you’ve got a strong, local, effective water supply so that proper cleaning of salmon can occur. And if you’re going to expand businesses like this, the businesses need to have confidence that there’ll be no problems with clean water supply into the future.
So, for industry, for business, for exports, for jobs, as well as the needs of local communities, what we’re announcing today is a clear-cut commitment from Labor’s National Water Security Plan for Towns and Cities to make it easier for local residents and for local businesses to get on with their lives and contributing to the economy.
To conclude, before I turn to Albo for a couple of remarks as well, for us, when we look at climate change, we look at the impact it has on drought, we look at the impact it has on long-term water supply, this requires an integrated, national strategy. Labor has an integrated strategy for dealing with climate change and water and part of that is our quarter of a billion dollar plan, this National Water Security Plan for Towns and Cities, and for towns and communities, and that’s why we’re putting forward this amount of money today. Albo.
ALBANESE: Thanks very much, Kevin. I’m very pleased to be back here, particularly with Kevin Rudd, Julie Collins, the candidate for Franklin, and Robert Armstrong, the Mayor. I came down here about six weeks ago and met with the local authority and discussed with them their proposal for a comprehensive plan. It’s clear that they have that.
When you look at the Prime Minister’s announcement on the 25th of January where he spoke about a National Water Security Plan, he forgot that there is an Australia outside the Murray-Darling Basin. And indeed, he forgot that there are some 18 million Australians who live in our towns and our cities. They need security of water supply and what this plan will do is ensure that that occurs.
I note on Friday the Treasurer, Peter Costello, stated that he supported desal plants in our capital cities. Of course, the Commonwealth Government hasn’t contributed a single cent to any of the desal plants that are either being built or in planning stages for Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne.
So, the Treasurer, earlier on this year, after our announcement of this National Water Security Plan for Towns and Cities, indeed dismissed the role of the Commonwealth, that it had no role in securing water supply.
What we know from this project, it is a great example of a water project that’s good for industry and jobs, it’s a water project that’s good for providing water security for those people in the towns, particularly that currently don’t enjoy access, and it’s good for environmental flows because it will enable water to be returned to the rivers which is currently being used up during the summer months. So, this is a very good project and I’m very pleased that Kevin Rudd is here himself, to announce it.
RUDD: I’d like to ask the Mayor if he’d like to say something.
ROBERT ARMSTRONG: Thank you, Kevin. Yes, this is a major coup for the Huon Valley. It’s the biggest single commitment we’ve had from a government to look after our water supplies. As Kevin and Anthony said, it’s going to free up four rivers that’s going to put an environmental flow back into those rivers in the summertime that we take the entire flow from. Also Cygnet and Geeveston don’t enjoy a good water supply during the summer months with boiled water alerts and water restrictions. This is going to free up those areas of Cygnet and Geeveston.
Also the aquaculture industry, what Kevin and Anthony also touched on, we have major expansions planned for the area and this is going to help those expansions happen now that we’ve got that security of water.
I’d just like to thank Kevin and Anthony and Julie for the work they’ve put into this. I know that without Julie’s help there that this might not have happened. But to you, Julie, thank you very much and to Carol Brown, who also has put a lot of work into this, and to Kevin and Anthony.
So, once again, it’s a great day for the Huon Valley to have this announcement come out for us. It’s going to set us up for the next 50 years-plus, not only for industry but for the residents of the Huon Valley too. So, thank you very much.
RUDD: Happy to take some questions, folks.
RUDD: Well, surprised is not the word. I’m concerned that we have a problem with water supply here in the island State and our National Water Plan for Water Security for Towns and Cities is very much for Tasmania. That’s why we’re here announcing this project today.
Part of my plan for Australia is an Education Revolution, ending the blame game on hospitals, dealing effectively with climate change and water. It’s one of the core elements of my plan for Australia. Part of that means acting on urban water supplies as well, and that’s why we’ve announced this plan and we’re pleased to announce part of its funding will come to this important project in this part of Tasmania.
JOURNALIST: Do you expect other projects in a similar nature to be announced around the country?
RUDD: Anthony Albanese, the Shadow Minster for Water, has been talking with local authorities right across the country and I’m sure we’re going to have more to say on this between now and the election. If we are elected to form the next government of Australia, we believe national leadership is required. Mr Howard has talked almost exclusively about the Murray-Darling and we’ve supported him on a bipartisan basis. Mr Howard has said that urban water is something exclusively for States and Territories, and that’s what we call the blame game. That’s what we call buck-passing. That doesn’t fix the big problems out there in our towns and cities in the rest of Australia. That’s why we want to pitch in with a practical program like this.
JOURNALIST: How many (inaudible) announcements for Tassie in the lead-up to the election?
RUDD: There will be, again on the water front with Anthony and in other areas, we will be back and making other clear-cut local commitments within an envelope of fiscal responsibility.
JOURNALIST: What about roads? The Tasmanian Government went to both sides of politics some time back now. Tasmanians are still waiting for a commitment. Have you moved any closer to agreeing to the State’s road strategy?
RUDD: Martin Ferguson, the Shadow Minister for Transport has been in close consultation with the Tasmanian Government on roads questions and again between now and the election, you will hear from us about what we’re proposing on the road front.
You see Tasmania is a core part of our vision for the nation’s future. We need to make sure that the infrastructure of this state is in first class working order and you can’t just say in Canberra, that’s a problem for a state government. You’ve got to partner on these things. That means on roads and it means on practical projects like this on the water/infrastructure front as well because we want to see the state become a core component of Australia’s future export strategy. Aquaculture, salmon, is just fantastic in terms of its national branding and its international branding and we want to get here and partner with local business and communities like this to make sure it’s a big part of the country’s economic future.
JOURNALIST: Peter Garrett’s received a full briefing on the pulp mill from the federal Department and we will also soon see the Peacock Report. Will Labor make a decision of its own or is it just going to leave the issue up to Malcolm Turnbull?
RUDD: Well, if you look at the provisions of the EPBC Act, it’s quite clear that the responsibility under that Act lies with the Federal Environment Minister…
JOURNALIST: So does water, but you’re announcing things on water, why not have a, why not leave it to Malcolm to make a decision?
RUDD: Can I finish my answer, and that is under the EPBC Act there is a defined discretionary decision making process for the Minister under the terms of the Act relating to a specific proposal and a project for a particular site. That under the provisions of the EPBC Act is supposed to be an unfettered Ministerial decision. That’s my point. It’s actually quite different to the generic question of how you assist you supply the water across this state of Tasmania or anywhere else.
Secondly, Mr Turnbull has indicated as the rains start to come down that, that he would defer his decision until he received his report from the Chief Scientist. I’m advised that on radio this morning, I think Mr Turnbull said that he’s receiving it today, perhaps tomorrow and he’s indicated that he’ll make a decision based on that into the future.
Our statement all along is that once that report is released, we would indicate our own views on that report as well. But that report is not in our possession and so we wait with interest the release of that report.
JOURNALIST: Any response to the Galaxy poll this morning?
RUDD: Look, I reckon there’s going to be dozens of polls between now and election day. It’ll be a tight election and I will be putting out my plan for Australia’s future. I’ve indicated the core parts of my plan for Australia’s future: an Education Revolution, ending the blame game between Canberra and the States so that we can fix our hospitals, all of the nation’s hospitals, acting on climate change and water, getting the balance right when it comes to WorkChoices. That means getting rid of WorkChoices and, getting the balance right between fairness and flexibility in the workplace and also, on top of that making sure we keep the economy strong and a strong and robust approach to national security.
It’s that plan for Australia’s future which is important. It’ll be tight and there’s going to be dozens of polls but the plan for the future and the policies underpinning that plan is what I’m passionate about.
JOURNALIST: (inaudible) the Prime Minister’s trying to get (inaudible) to reconsider their retirement. Do you think this shows a kind of desperation?
RUDD: Look, Mr Howard’s arrangements within the Liberal Party are a matter for him. My responsibility is to put out my plan for the country’s future. What Australians want is to make a decision between what I offer the country and what he offers the country. What I’m saying on water supplies, what he’s saying on water supplies. What I’m saying on climate change, what he’s saying on climate change.
Can I just say one thing about climate change. I was with Al Gore yesterday in Melbourne. We were talking about the importance of ratifying Kyoto and acting globally and nationally on climate change. If you look carefully at what Mr Howard has said overnight himself on the question of his clean energy target, can is say Mr Howard has failed to act after eleven years in office on climate change and now on the eve of an election says we’re now going to have a bigger clean energy target. I think people see that as not being fair dinkum. I’ll tell you another reason why it’s not fair dinkum, when you look at solar and wind energy, look at what’s happened over the last decade. Ten years ago Australia represented something like 10 per cent of the world’s solar industry. Now, more like 2 per cent of the world’s solar industry. One of the reasons for that is we haven’t had a decent defined renewable energy target for the nation, over that time. When you have other people, for example, that great Chinese entrepreneur in the solar industry business, Mr Shi, Zhengrong Shi and his decision, that he couldn’t actually sustain his business in Australia, had to invest in China instead. One of the reasons is, the absence of an effective renewable energy target.
Look at wind. Last time I was in North Western Tasmania we had the decision by Vestas to pull down its investment and the reason? The absence of a renewable energy target. Look what’s also happened with Roaring Forties and their investment in China. Why not expand their business in Australia? Again, I think one of the contributing factors is the absence of a renewable energy target.
So what’s my overall argument here? Mr Howard on the eve of an election says I’m suddenly serious about climate change. I’m suddenly serious about a clean energy target. I mean give us a break. After eleven years in office, Mr Howard has had a lot of time to act on this and on solar and on wind what we’ve seen is the investments going in the reverse direction in the critical areas I’ve just referred to.
RUDD: We’ll be making that plain before the election and we’ve still got a little bit more work to do on it but we’ve been closely consulting with renewable energy industry and we’re deadly serious about making a contribution to Australia’s clean, green energy future.
JOURNALIST: Over the weekend there’s been discussion about, the example that political parties could set in election campaigns with carbon offset. Will Labor be doing that?
RUDD: Yeah, we’ll have something to say about that. Also, about the role in which we can have in Parliament itself, in producing carbon neutral outcomes. One of the reasons we have a half billion dollar Green Car Innovation Fund is to develop an Australian designed and manufactured green car, fuel efficient, hybrid car and the intention, long-term, is to use that to the greatest extent possible for Commonwealth vehicle fleet, Commonwealth vehicles, Parliament House, and also our individual activities as well.
JOURNALIST: Do you support the idea of offsets for election flights during the campaign?
RUDD: Yeah, I think Mr Howard said something about that the other day and we’re looking at that and any application for ourselves. I think individually it’s really important for people to look at their own individual clean green, energy options as well. For example, we are, we have a purchasing arrangement with the electricity authority ourselves in Queensland for our stuff at home in terms of its green energy option for us. It’s those sorts of actions individually which are important. What is really important for the nation however is to have an effective renewable energy target. You’re either fair dinkum as a nation on renewable energy future, solar and wind or you’re not and if after eleven years in office on the eve of an election being called Mr Howard says oh I’m suddenly serious about clean energy, can I just say, people I think are concluding that’s not really been fair dinkum.
RUDD: This candidate here is a fantastic candidate and I think she’s going to do really well and she’s working really hard across this community and I look forward to her being part of our team in Canberra. She’s part of our continuing process of renewal and I look forward to her joining the ranks. I know at a local level she’s working her guts out.
RUDD: That’s a great question. Can I say we take every part of the country really seriously and we know that we are in a very tough fight against a very clever and cunning politician. Between now and election day we’ll have a very strong negative campaign from Mr Howard. We’ll also have a lot of local political activity from Mr Howard. I don’t take anything for granted and here in Tasmania we want to be partners in this State’s future, its economic future and the future of its working families who are under financial pressure. I think Mr Howard’s problem is that he’s lost touch with working families. Mr Costello’s problem is that he’s never been in touch with working families.
JOURNALIST: Have you been discussing the pulp mill with the Premier?
RUDD: I have no plans to do so because we are awaiting the Chief Scientist’s report and I think on that we’re about to be pulled off. Thanks guys.