Modbury Community Cabinet Meeting, 19 May 2011
The Heights School, Modbury Heights, South Australia
MRS HELEN CALVERT, Principal: As a preschool to Year 12 site, we operate very
much as a community of learners with a relentless focus on high achievement and quality
education for all.
The Height School offers specialist programs that recognise individual needs and provide
flexibility in student learning. The Ignite program is a very special entry program for highly
gifted students. They enter the program in Year 8, and they do Year 8 and 9 in one year.
The specialist cricket program caters for the development of talented athletes and players in
Year 7 to 10. The automotive program is a vocational course offered to Year 11 students not
just at The Height School, but also students from neighbouring secondary schools.
Today we farewell students from Penang and principals from Indonesia as part of our
international program, and The Heights is very fortunate to have the only observatory in the
South Australian schooling sector. We are open to the public, so as members of the
community you are very welcome to attend the observatory when it's open once a month.
The public forum will commence with an address from the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. At
the end of the Prime Minister's address there'll be an opportunity to ask questions. To ask a
question, raise your hand. If selected, a staff member will bring you a microphone. Let the
staff member hold the microphone for you. Introduce yourself, and please keep your
question short and concise.
I have the great pleasure now to introduce Lewis O'Brien, a Kaurna Elder.
MR LEWIS O'BRIEN, Kaurna Elder: (Speaks in Kaurna). On behalf of the Kaurna
people, I welcome you all to Kaurna country, and I do as Ambassador of the Adelaide Plains
people. My brothers, my sisters, let's work together in harmony. Our people welcomed
people to this country for thousands of years, the Kauwanu, the Nudgerri, the Kauwana and
the Narungga came together for two moons.
They ran conferences and the Germans wrote our words down in 1857, banba-banbalya,
which is conference. So we are used to welcoming people. The only thing our people failed
to do was tell people to go home. Thank you.
MRS CALVERT: Thank you, Kaurna Elder, Lewis O'Brien.
I have the great pleasure now to introduce to you, singing the National Anthem, one of our
Aboriginal Ignite students, Olivia Brownsey. I'd ask you all to please stand.
MS OLIVIA BROWNSEY, student:
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Australians all let us rejoice
For we are young and free
We've golden soil and wealth for toil
Our home is girt by sea
Our land abounds in nature's gift
Of beauty rich and rare
In history's page let every stage
Advance Australia fair
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia fair
MRS CALVERT: Thank you to Olivia, and I would also like to thank our other students
from The Heights School who provided the catering service for you this evening, and also
who escorted the Ministers. So thank you to our students as well as our musicians for
entertaining us this evening.
I'd like to introduce Tony Zappia, MP, the Federal Member for Makin.
TONY ZAPPIA MP, Federal Member for Makin: Helen, thank you very much. And can
I firstly thank you and all of your school staff for making The Heights School available for us
for tonight's event. Can I also thank Uncle Lewis for the Kaurna welcome. Uncle Lewis and
I go back a long way, and it's great to see him here tonight.
Olivia, that was great, the National Anthem; and, again, it's terrific to see the talent of our
young people. But, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, thank you all for coming here
tonight, for being part of this forum, and it's indeed my pleasure to welcome Prime Minister
Julia Gillard and Cabinet Members to the Makin electorate.
In a moment the Prime Minister will address you and introduce the Cabinet Members, but can
I also acknowledge that I do have some of my other Federal Parliamentary colleagues here
tonight; Senator Dana Wortley is here, Senator Anne McEwen is here, and Nick Champion,
the Member for Wakefield is here, along with Frances Bedford, the local Member for Florey.
Can I also say that the response to the event tonight was overwhelming, and I regret that we
were unable to accommodate everybody who wanted to come, but I certainly thank the
Cabinet Members who made it to Makin today and made themselves available to meet with
so many people on an individual basis. This is the first time that a Prime Minister and
Cabinet forum has been held in this part of the community, and it was a terrific occasion not
only for you, the community members, to get to meet them and interact with them, but also
for them, as the decision makers of this country, to listen to your views first hand, to meet
you individually, and to get a true understanding of the things that matter to us here in Makin.
The next segment is about questions and answers, and I am sure that there'll be other issues
raised, and so with that can I invite and welcome Prime Minister Julia Gillard to the lectern,
and in turn she'll take over the proceedings from here. Thank you very much.
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MS JULIA GILLARD MP, Prime Minister: Well, thank you very much to our local
member Tony Zappia for that introduction. Helen, thank you for having us in your very great
school and making all of the arrangements possible. Thank you for the 'Welcome To
Country'; and, Olivia, very good job, a lot of pressure and you did it really well, thank you.
We're here today to listen to you, but I am just going to open up proceedings by saying it's
fantastic to be back in my home town. It's fantastic to be in the place where I went to school
and where I learnt my early values, which are still driving me as Prime Minister today.
As many of you know, my family still lives here in South Australia, my mother and my
father, my sister, my niece, my nephew, all here in Adelaide. So I often get my ear chewed
by my family about needs in South Australia, and I think many of you know my father isn't
backwards with a word when he's got an opinion. You may have seen him in the media or
heard him on the radio.
But here in Adelaide when I grew up, I learnt from my family a number of things that matter
to me to this day. I certainly learnt from them the benefit of having a job, of having the
security that comes with hard work, the security that comes from bringing a pay packet home
to your family, but also the personal sense of worth that comes from having a job.
Both my parents worked unbelievably hard to create a life for my sister and I, which is why
I'm so determined as Prime Minister that we continue to create jobs in this country; that we
continue to bring to families and individuals the benefits and the dignity that go with work.
I'm very proud that we've created 750,000 jobs since we were elected, but we've got more to
do, in bringing down the recent budget, we want to see another half a million jobs created in
the next couple of years.
Many of you know that our economy is going through a very special part of its history.
We've got the best terms of trade, that is, the way in which we trade with the rest of the world
is at its best state since the gold rush of the mid 1800s. That means our resources are
booming. It's a good time to be in mining, and it's a good time for the Australian economy,
and we will see that as the economy comes close to full strength in 2012/13.
But that economic strength has to be managed right. It has to be managed right so that we
don't just create opportunities in mining, and we don't just create opportunities in mining
communities, but we spread the benefits of the boom, and we spread the work that can come
with this special phase of economic development.
So we're determined to create jobs, but we're also determined to work with local
communities, including this one. On regional economic plans which help play to your
strengths and create jobs in this local community. We're also determined that we won't let
this phase of Australia's history pass by without making a difference to the long-term
disadvantaged in our country.
Many employers come and see me as Prime Minister, and they say they need skilled labour,
and they ask me if we could import more people from overseas, get more immigrants. Now,
I'm a migrant myself, so I know the benefits of a good immigration program to this country,
but it's also not acceptable to me that we can have employers saying, "I can't get the workers I
need", and at the same time in many parts of the country, including in many of the local
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neighbourhoods that Tony represents, we can see adult unemployment at still quite high rates,
and we can see spectacularly high youth unemployment.
I want to give those kids and those individuals a chance, and so a big focus of the recent
budget was saying that we will impose on people new responsibilities to get out and look for
work and to take a job, but we'll match that with a new sense of opportunity; we will work
with them to get them into that work opportunity so they aren't left behind as our economy
comes to almost full capacity, and our unemployment rate falls to 4.5%.
So the recent budget was very much about jobs and very much about opportunity. Very
much about the power of education. Something that I also experienced here in South
Australia. The course of the rest of my life was determined not only in my family home, but
by the quality of the local schools I went to, and the quality of the education I first got at
Adelaide University. I want others to experience that quality, and even in a very tight budget,
we have found $3 billion to invest in training, because I want Australians to be able to get an
apprenticeship, get a training opportunity, get a ticket and get a job, and we will be reforming
our training system so the training does lead to real jobs, rather than just having a certificate.
Also in a tight budget we did some things I think are important to show respect to our fellow
Australians. When I grew up here in South Australia, my father worked as a psychiatric
nurse in Glenside Psychiatric Hospital. Many of you would know it. Many of you would
know it's a very impressive historic building. Now, a lot has changed in our community and
in mental health since my father worked as a psychiatric nurse, but the needs are there, the
needs have grown, and too often they've gone unmet. So even in a difficult budget we have
found new resources to create a 2.2 billion package to best meet mental health needs today.
It joins with other major investments we've proudly made in health care, including locally in
So these are the things that I've valued since my days growing up here, and these are the
things you'll see this Government deliver, arising out of the recent budget. But I'd also say to
you, growing up in South Australia, I certainly learnt from my family that you've got to get
out and shape your future. I think that's a good lesson for our whole country.
We've got some difficult challenges to face, we've got a future to shape, a future that's
challenged by big picture problems like climate change, and I know pricing carbon is a
controversial debate, but I think as a people and as a nation we're up to this, we are up to
getting this job done, working together to do the right thing by our environment, and the right
thing by our economy, because to keep our economy strong, we will need to be a cleaner
energy economy; and to have the clean energy jobs of the future, we will also need to make
sure we're keeping pace with nations overseas so that we've got the technology of the future,
and that's the National Broadband Network.
I came to South Australia from Armidale in country New South Wales, where I switched the
NBN on for the first time in mainland Australia, a regional community that wanted to have
the NBN because it could see its power to transform the local economy and the way that
health services and education are delivered.
I know from Tony talking to me, that this too is a community very keen to see the National
Broadband Network, and we will be working with you and the National Broadband Network
company to make sure the benefits of the NBN come here as well. So they're some of the
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things we're working on, but I am sure you've got a million ideas that you want to convey to
us and some questions to ask, so we will move to taking your questions now. I'll try and
spread them out around the room.
Just very quickly before we do so, I'm going to have the people on the platform, the Ministers
who have come with me for this Community Cabinet, to very briefly introduce themselves
and say one sentence about what they've done in South Australia. So I'll start with Mark
Butler, whose sentence is going to be, "I live here". I can tell that.
MR MARK BUTLER, MP: Thank you, Prime Minister. Well, I do live close to here. I
have the neighbouring electorate of Port Adelaide to represent. I am sure this is a room full
of Port Adelaide supporters. I also, in addition to being a Port Adelaide supporter, have the
honour of being the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing.
PRIME MINISTER: Kate is now going to say, "I live in Adelaide too".
MS KATE ELLIS, MP: I'm going to try and resist singing you the mighty Adelaide Crows
song to follow on from Mark's contribution.
PRIME MINISTER: It all started so well.
MS ELLIS: Don't worry, Prime Minister, I won't put anyone through that. But my name is
Kate Ellis, I am also one of the neighbouring local members holding the seat of Adelaide, but
also the Minister for Employment Participation, Childcare, and the Minister for the Status of
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you.
MR GREG COMBET, MP: I'm Greg Combet, the Minister for Climate Change and
Energy Efficiency, and over my working life I've spent a lot of time in South Australia, and
most of you might know of my background as a trade union official, so I've spent a lot of
time with many people, working in lots of different industries in South Australia, which has
been a great privilege and opportunity for me, and I've got one of the more challenging
aspects of Government policy at the moment, as you'd well be aware.
PRIME MINISTER: Really.
SENATOR KIM CARR: I'm Senator Kim Carr. I'm the Minister for Innovation, Industry,
Science and Research. Today I've had the great pleasure to outline the final tranche of the
South Australian Investment Fund, which was the program set up when Mitsubishi went
down. Now that's a fund that we've now been able to say has produced, through 30
companies, 800-plus new jobs, an investment of 30 million, creating a leverage of
$155 million in new investment, in high skilled, high wage manufacturing jobs in South
I also had the great pleasure to go to General Motors Holden today and announce a program
for $40 million to future-proof the Commodore with lightweighting and body parts and new
technologies in the steering system to ensure that we were able to provide future employment
opportunities, some 255 engineering jobs for General Motors, and that goes to build on what
we've done with the Cruze, which has seen quite a substantial job growth for the automotive
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industry in this State, and enormous opportunities for people that work in the component
So it's been a very good day for manufacturing in South Australia.
PRIME MINISTER: Penny Wong, another great South Australian.
SENATOR PENNY WONG: Hello, I'm Penny Wong. I'm one of your senators, and I'm
also the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, and it's really good to be home for a
few days, so I'm really glad we're having a Community Cabinet here.
MS NICOLA ROXON, MP: Thank you. My name is Nicola Roxon. I'm the Minister for
Health, and I've had the pleasure of opening today a new 10-chair dental clinic, one of our
early investments from health reform that are starting to pay off in South Australia. I also
was with Tony and Nick at the City of Salisbury, announcing a $700,000 grant to keep people
healthy and active. Luckily escaped before I was required to dance with the community
there. So please don't do that today either.
SENATOR CHRIS EVANS: Thanks. Senator Chris Evans from Western Australia. I'm
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations, and apart from
making sure I get 10 bucks on with Mark Butler on the Adelaide/Port Adelaide game on the
weekend, I had the opportunity today to go to the University of Adelaide with Penny Wong,
and meet with the students from Christchurch who came here after the earthquake, and have
been educated at the University of Adelaide in the last few months, and I got a chance to
thank the staff at the university who have done a fantastic job in looking after those young
people. They are very grateful, they've had a great experience, they're going home in July.
Some of them want to stay, but they are all going home in July, but it's a real credit to the
University of Adelaide and to the South Australian people the way they've been looked after.
The support they've had has been fantastic, and it's a great credit, as I say, to the Uni and to
Adelaide. It was great to thank them for all they've done.
MR TONY BURKE, MP: Tony Burke, I've got the sustainability portfolios, environment,
water, population and communities. Today I was out at Common Ground, which is an
affordable housing project in Adelaide. A couple of days ago I saw one of the best
ecotourism operations going anywhere in the world on Kangaroo Island, at Seal Bay, but
most importantly yesterday at Lake Alexandrina and the Coorong, and seeing it the way it's
meant to look, full of water.
MR PETER GARRETT, MP: Peter Garrett. I've got responsibility for School Education,
Early Childhood and Youth. Look, I've been getting into some of the schools in the area,
including with Tony, just getting a real good sense of the kind of investment that we've been
putting in, particularly through Building the Education Revolution, looking at these
all-purpose halls and facilities, seeing some of the fantastic improvements that the local
schools have had, and also some trades training centres where we're spending significant
amounts of money.
I was down at St Paul's today with Senator Anne McEwen, having a look at that Trade
Training Centre which will be opening up soon, and just seeing the big infrastructure
investments that we've put into the area.
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MR ROBERT McCLELLAND MP: Thanks, Peter. I'm Robert McClelland. I'm the
Attorney-General. In addition to responsibility for the Federal courts and the legal system,
including Legal Aid, I have responsibility for emergency management and national security,
and today I have the pleasure of delivering a $400,000, 7.5 tonne BearCat armoured response
vehicle to the South Australian Police Commissioner, Mal Hyde. We presented that to the
special task and response team, and that's going to be used not only in responding to a
potential terrorist incident, but also for general policing duties, so that was a great thing
today. So basically law and order generally, but also in the area of the legal system and
ensuring we have a fair and unified community through human rights, respect and so forth.
MR BILL SHORTEN, MP: Hi, my name is Bill Shorten. I'm the Assistant Treasurer. I'm
filling in for Wayne Swan today, for your questions. The bad news, depending on what you
think is, I barrack for the Collingwood Football Club, and just to double that, if you've got
problems with the tax system - you get to raise them with me.
On the upside, we want to make sure that financial planners are working for their clients, not
their product providers; we want to increase superannuation from nine to 12% so people don't
retire poor, and we're also trying to straighten out insurance companies with flood claims at
MR JASON CLARE MP: Thanks, Bill. My name is Jason Clare. I am the Minister for
Defence Materiel, which is a fancy word that means military equipment. It means I'm
responsible for everything from army boots to submarines, and a lot of military equipment is
either made or maintained here in South Australia. Defence spends about $2 billion on
military equipment in South Australia every year, which means that I'm here a lot.
The two biggest projects in South Australia are the maintenance of our submarines, and the
other one is the construction of three Air Warfare Destroyer ships, which is currently
happening in Port Adelaide.
SENATOR DON FARRELL: Thank you, Jason. Don Farrell is my name. I'm another
South Australian Senator. I'm also the Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban
Water. The Prime Minister offered me that position in September, and I've been trying to
make it rain ever since. I'm also an Adelaide Crows supporter, and I'm very confident that
they'll beat Collingwood this Sunday.
MS TANYA PLIBERSEK, MP: My name is Tanya Plibersek, I'm the Minister for Human
Services and the Minister for Social Inclusion. Human Services is the Department that
covers Centrelink, the Child Support Agency, Medicare and Commonwealth Rehabilitation
Service, Hearing Services Australia, and social inclusion is our whole-of-Government effort
to make sure that every Australian is able to participate fully in our society, in our economy.
With Centrelink today I was looking at our fraud and compliance operations here in
Adelaide, and I can tell you we've got some South Australians who are really looking into the
details of fraud and compliance to make sure that every dollar that we spend is going to
people who need it.
And tomorrow I'm going to Playford because the Government announced in the budget that
10 locations around Australia will get special intensive support to help long-term unemployed
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people, teenage parents, people who have been out of the workforce for some time back into
the workforce, so that we make sure, as the Prime Minister says, that the benefits of the
mining boom spread to every corner of Australia.
MR GARY GRAY MP: Thanks, Tanya. My name is Gary Gray. Tomorrow I'll be heading
up to Whyalla, where I grew up, and I'll visit OneSteel and go to a few schools, visit the
Local Government authority up there and see my mum, who just got out of hospital. She's a
Port Adelaide supporter.
PRIME MINISTER: Okay. Thank you too to Senators Dana Wortley and Anne McEwen
and to Nick Champion, one of our local members in South Australia, for being here as well.
Now it's over to you, so if you could indicate by putting your hand up, a staff member will
bring a microphone to you. When I pick you, give you the call, if you could let the staff
member hold the microphone, we would be grateful for that.
So if I pick the gentleman in the middle of the row.
QUESTION 1: Thank you, Ms Gillard. My name is Alan Clarence. I'm a local small
business person. I have two teenage children. I notice that your government is talking about
linking teachers' pay to performance. My kids have been at a complete spectrum of schools,
and one thing I've noticed lately is they spend a lot of time practicing for My School's
website, and the schools are judged on this.
I hear stories literally of, "We practised colouring in the dots. I got in trouble, I didn't colour
it in dark enough". Okay. Why are they wasting time on this when the schools that put a lot
of resources into being measured look good, the schools that just get on with education don't
look so good?
One of his classmates at a local private school was asked to withdraw his enrolment before
Year 12 exams because he was going to bring scores down at a local private school. So I
don't know how many times you have to measure a pig to fatten it, but you can't pay teachers
more at Prince Alfred College because their kids do greater than at The Heights or Davoren
PRIME MINISTER: Sure.
QUESTION: It's just not a level playing field.
PRIME MINISTER: No.
QUESTION: It's more complex than your systems paint it to be.
PRIME MINISTER: Okay. Thanks for that question. And I'm very happy to answer it.
The national testing we do is in years 3, 5, 7 and 9, so kids will do it four times over their
school career. It is testing literacy and numeracy, so it's not testing things that are isolated
from the curriculum, it's testing things that are in the curriculum.
We obviously want kids to come out of school and be able to read, write and do math, and
that's what the national testing is showing you, but I agree with you absolutely, the raw scores
aren't telling you anything. I could have told you before we had the My School website that
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there were going to be some very exclusive schools on Sydney's North Shore that were going
to turn in better results than some schools serving Indigenous kids in the Northern Territory.
I could have told you that without My School. That's why My School isn't really comparing
the raw scores, across the country.
What My School is doing is it is comparing schools with schools that serve kids from similar
backgrounds, so particularly compared to the 60 schools where the student population is most
like your school, and then increasingly on the My School website, what you see are
value-added metrics, so they're not doing the, you know, one school's up here, one school's
What they're actually doing is they're measuring how much the school has added to a child's
education over the two years since the last test. So that means you can look at schools in all
sorts of circumstances, and say, "How well have they done at value adding to that child's
On the Rewards for Teachers program, it's not absolutely not going to be a program that
works off raw scores. You're right, that would be a recipe for giving people in some of the
most exclusive schools more money, and we're not going to do that. What it will take into
account is the series of things, lesson observations, peer review, qualifications, as well as this
concept of value added, and we are out consulting with the teaching community now, and the
community generally about the best way of getting it right.
But I'm certainly very determined that we say to the best teachers in this country, "You matter
to us, and because you matter to us, we are going to recognise you and what you do."
Thanks for your question, and I'll go now to the man behind you. Yes, thank you.
QUESTION 2: Thanks, Ms Gillard. My question is in light of the economic strength
you've spoken of, that we'll be experiencing in the coming years, when will you be
implementing the recommendations regarding the National Disability Insurance Scheme?
PRIME MINISTER: Okay. I'm actually going to ask Bill Shorten to answer that, even
though it's not directly within his bailiwick any longer, but he laboured long and hard to
ensure that we started on this process of looking at disability insurance.
If I could just say, in the recent budget, even in some testing times, where we were very
determined to bring the budget back to surplus in 2012/13, exactly as we promised, because
that's what the economy needs us to do, we did make space to invest $200 million more in
students with disabilities in Australian schools, but I'll just get Bill to do the update.
MR SHORTEN: What the question is referring to is in the first term upon being elected,
the Labor Government recognised that more needed to be done in disabilities, so increased
significantly the funding to the states. But even so, that doesn't touch the side. People with
disability and carers get a very hard deal in Australia, a very hard deal, and it's been an issue
which has been quite invisible.
So in the first term we also, along with putting more money and increasing the DSP, we also
commissioned an inquiry, using the Productivity Commission, which is a statutory body, an
independent body, pre-eminently exists in Australia to investigate if the system's broken,
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what can we do about it; and, indeed, at the last election Prime Minister Gillard was the first
national leader to say the status quo is just unacceptable.
Now, one thing we can't do is raise false hopes, so the Productivity Commission has come
down with its draft recommendations in February. It's due to make a further and final report
after it's had heaps of public consultations in July, and one idea was the Productivity
Commission, in principle, looked at quite favourably, as it said the Commonwealth should
expand its role and look at the feasibility of a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
It's predicated on the principle that early intervention to people with disability at each stage of
their life is better than waiting till the, you know, the car goes over the sort of virtual cliff and
it's a problem for carers and people with disability. They'll come down with a final report in
July. Then what will happen is the Government, in consultation with Australia, will have to
work out what system works best, how do you fund it. So it has a long way to go, and this
Government is not in the business of making promises it can't keep, but there's no question
and you only have to look at the Treasurer's speech on Budget night, it's good reading, but in
it he refers to people with disabilities a number of times.
As the Prime Minister says, whilst we've commissioned this report, we've got the debate on
the national stage; the most recent budget not only is providing small but significant
assistance to kids with special needs in the school system, it's providing now early
intervention packages for parents of children with Down's Syndrome, Fragile X, who are
blind, who are deaf, in addition to the work we already did in the first term on autism, but it's
also proposing some significant flexibilities for disability support pensioners.
Some people think that the changes that we've proposed are tough. They're not. We're
allowing people now to work 30 hours, who still get the DSP, because we recognise that one
of the biggest problems in the community isn't just funding, it's isn't just lack of political
power, it's the fact that some of us in our community have a discriminatory attitude towards
people with disabilities, and we think because they look different or sound different,
somehow they're less capable, so disability now is hitting the national stage, and there's still a
lot more work to be done. I hope that gives you an idea of the timetable and where we are up
to at the moment.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. We'll go over here for a question. There's a man there, I
think it's a brown jumper you've got on, sir. Yes, it's you. We'll just get the microphone over
to you. Sorry, that's a hard spot to get the microphone to. There we go, thank you.
QUESTION 3: (Inaudible) So my question is this: historically the number of asylum
seekers arriving in Australia by boat has represented only a small part of the total number of
onshore asylum seekers Australia receives each year. Well, apart from last year's inconsistent
(inaudible) asylum seekers arriving by boat are still far from (inaudible) of those arriving by
Statistics from previous years have shown that well over 90% of these asylum seekers have a
legitimate claim to refugee status.
With these facts in mind, why does the Government feel that it is acceptable to send asylum
seekers arriving by boat to Malaysia, a country that is not party to the 1951 United Nations
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Conventions relating to the status of refugees, where conditions for refugees are poor, and
they're not guaranteed application under International law?
Why is there a distinction drawn between the asylum seekers who arrive by boat, and the
asylum seekers who arrive via plane, and why does the Government choose only to send
those who are arrived by boat to Malaysia, when statistics show that the overwhelming
number of them have a legitimate claim for refugee status?
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Thanks for that question. To put it at its most simplest,
what we want to do is break the people smuggling business model. We don't want people
risking their lives in boats where they can meet with dreadful, dreadful circumstances and
accidents, and we saw around Christmas time ourselves what can happen when people get in
a boat and people do lose their lives getting in those boats.
They're being exploited by people who are trying to profit from human misery, who are
trying to just take money from someone in a very difficult situation, so we don't want people
smugglers to profit, and we don't want people risking their life at sea. We do have a special
set of arrangements for people who arrive here unauthorised by boat, who don't have any
form of visa, and may not have any papers with them when they arrive.
But we are historically a nation that's been generous and welcoming of refugees, and I think
that will continue, but we need to break that people smuggling business model, and that's
what the transfer agreement with Malaysia is all about. It will be sending a very powerful
message, "Don't risk your life, don't give your money to a people smuggler, don't get in that
boat with all of the tragedy that might end up happening, because if you do, where you will
end up is in Malaysia".
But we will be extending our generosity and compassion to refugees who have been
processed, who are genuine refugees in Malaysia, and over four years we will be taking 4,000
of these people to add to our normal humanitarian intake. So I understand that people are
going to take different views on this question, but I'm very determined that we do everything
we can to break what is a very evil trade of people smuggling.
So we'll take another question from this block here. We'll take the lady here with the, yes,
just in the row before the break. Yes. That's you. Thank you. Microphone is just coming to
QUESTION 4: Hello. I note that many of the people in the Cabinet are, in fact, South
Australians, and as such they undoubtedly recognise the intrinsic value of Arkaroola. Some
of you may even have visited the place. I know Tony Zappia knows about it.
What I ask is I'm the Vice-President of the Field Geology Club, and as such I support mining.
However, I also support conservation. Could Arkaroola be granted special status not to be
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks, thanks for that question. I'm actually going to turn to Tony
Burke on that one. Tony gets all these difficult decisions to weigh up in his capacity as
Minister for the Environment.
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MR BURKE: The way we make decisions on mining is this: first of all, whether permits
happen at all is initiated by a state government. They then make an application which comes
personally to me. My job is to weigh up what the industry is asking to do, against the
environmental values. In particular, things that are protected under national law, like
endangered species, and also to weigh that up. In some areas you have National Heritage and
World Heritage listings as well.
They're the prime issues you take into account. You do always look at the context in terms of
economics, you look at the jobs as well, but the prime thing that I have to look at on each
occasion is to work out whether or not these issues of national environment significance are
One of the catches for me with any question of that nature is if I give an indication as to what
my answer will be before the application is in front of me with the final advice, then whatever
I decide gets knocked out in court. So I can't give you a shorthand “would something of that
nature get over the line or would it not”, but I can assure you that those matters of national
environmental significance are taken very seriously. Many projects get over the line, some
get knocked out altogether, some go through with some very strict conditions attached.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Okay. We'll come back over here, and we might look
for someone towards the back. What about the gentleman almost right at the back. Yes,
there, thank you.
QUESTION 5: Good evening, Madam Prime Minister. My question is a simple one - it's
sport and recreation. What is the Federal Government's plan to assist, grow and develop
youth sport and recreation within the communities?
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Nicola, that would be you.
MS ROXON: Thank you very much. I think there's a number of people, and particularly
Kate, who, until recently, was the Sports Minister and now has some other obligations, will
have some ideas as well.
With my health hat on we are trying to do a lot more in the community not just for young
people in sport, but including young people, but also for older members of the community.
We are absolutely convinced of all of the evidence that shows us the more you engage people
in sport, particularly team sports, that the social benefits and health benefits are enormous.
We do fund a lot of different programs, whether they are afterschool programs that are sports
based, whether they are community sports programs. Of course, the state governments and
local councils also play a role in that, and many non-government organisations are also very
successful. We can see a direct benefit in the health budget in investing now in preventative
measures, but I think Kate might want to comment on some more sports specific assistance
that the Government provides.
MS ELLIS: Thank you very much, Nicola. We absolutely believe that at a Federal level
we need to be supporting sport at an elite level and making sure that we support people to
represent our country, but more so than that, that we need to be supporting the grassroots and
boosting participation and making sure that we have got lots of people coming through.
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And so that's why in last year's Federal budget we brought about the biggest increase in
sports funding in Australia's history, and that included for the first time a whole lot of funding
which was hived off to be aimed at participation and increasing participation, and particularly
at community sport.
Now, we don't have a program that funds infrastructure when it comes to sporting facilities,
and I know that a lot of people are often crying out for infrastructure funding. That doesn't
have a place within the federal sports portfolio, but the state governments predominantly and
local governments step in there, but what we have done, funded for the first time there, is
now funding available to support the volunteers who are the backbone of the Australian
sporting movement, to help train up referees and umpires, and help support, boost
participation, get more kids and get more adults out there being active and healthy in our
So we're very proud to have expanded the sports portfolio to include that. I understand you
might have some issues in particular around your soccer club, which I'm happy to have a chat
to you afterwards about, if you want to give me some details on.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, yes. We'll go to the lady here with the turtleneck.
QUESTION 6: Hello, my name is Yvonne Moore. I'm in the Save Our Suburbs Adelaide
group. Prime Minister, Australia has the highest rate of growth, population growth in the
western world. In this State our Government has been telling us more people will have to
live in high-rise complexes and also in flats above shops on busy polluted main roads.
Given that you explicitly rejected Kevin Rudd's endorsement of the big Australian picture of
36 million Australians, is your Government committed to reducing population growth and
thereby alleviating some of the pressures on our cities?
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, that's a great question. What we are committed to, and
Tony Burke, released this strategy, so he's done all the hard work and now I'll just steal his
thunder. We released a Sustainable Australia Strategy, and our view is that be need to
understand different needs in different parts of the country, and respond to those needs.
There are many parts of regional Australia that want to grow, they want more people, and
many regional parts of Australia have got jobs that they can't fill, particularly regions that are
benefitting from the mining boom. So when a region has got that aspiration for growth and
they need more people, we want to help meet that aspiration for growth.
In order to do that, we've got to do some investments in our regions, because I've travelled to
lots of regional centres where you meet people who literally say, you know, "I love it here,
but I don't know whether I'll be able to stay when my child's older because I'm not sure if the
education system will be good enough", or, "I love it here, but I don't know whether we'll be
able to spend the rest of our days here because I'd worry when I'm older the health system
isn't up to it", or, you know, "Can I get a university education here", or, "Can my child get a
university education here".
So to make regional living an even more attractive prospect than it is now, we are going to
invest more than $4 billion in universities, hospitals, health care and roads in the region. The
NBN too will close some of the divide for regional Australia, by ending that tyranny of
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distance, and you will literally be able to run businesses there and trade with the world and
get, you know, great quality health and education services through the power of the NBN.
We think that kind of strategy can take pressure off those parts of country that are congested
and are, you know, straining under the burden of growth. Where I now live in Melbourne has
that. It's an urban growth corridor, and we've seen a lot of growth, and it does concern
people. But we've also, when we're talking about places that are growing, got to make sure
that we work to get the planning right and to get the infrastructure right, and that's something
that we're doing under our urban planning policy as we work with state government.
So there's no-one size fits all solutions here. Different communities will have different
aspirations for growth, and we want to work with them for sustainability. One special thing
that we did in the budget, which we think is very innovative, is to allocate some money to
help partner with local communities to bring jobs into the community, because part of the
congestion that happens is everybody having to leap in their cars and often drive long
distances to get to their place of employment, whereas if we can foster more localised
employment, then that too can make a difference to that sense of congestion with city living.
So thank you for your question, and certainly Tony's strategy is something that is really worth
having a look at to guide you on the approach we're taking.
Okay. The young lady here.
QUESTION 7: Hi, my name is Juliet Steele. I'm at Year 9 at Woodville High School. I
was just wondering why, I know you've recently put funding into public schools for the halls
program, I think. I was just wondering why there has previously been so much funding put
into private schools as well as public schools?
PRIME MINISTER: Okay, thank you. Well, what we have done as a Government is
we've almost doubled the amount of money going into school education. So we've provided
more money for schools around the country because there's nothing that is really more
valuable to our nation's future than what's happening in Australian schools today.
And as we've invested that money we, under our economic stimulus package, provided a
benefit to every school in the country - either in the form of repairs or in the form of quite
sizeable new facilities, new classrooms, new halls, new libraries. We've been investing in
national partnerships, these are for public schools and for private schools, but they are
directed at schools that are disadvantaged, directed at schools where people are struggling
with literacy and numeracy, and we are also directing money into improving teacher quality.
So our approach has been we are not thinking about school systems, we're thinking about that
child in that school and how do we get that child a great education. School funding has been
pretty controversial in the past in Australia. People have tried to play some politics with
Independent schools and Catholic schools and State schools. We want to get beyond all of
that and say it's really about every child in every school, and we have a very high level panel
now providing us with some advice about the future of school funding. So we can, in the
long run, as a nation, make good on that promise that for your generation and the generations
to come, no matter what school they go to, no matter what school their parents choose, that
it's going to be a great education.
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Thanks for that question. We'll go to the young man with the white shirt.
QUESTION 8: My name is Daniel Spencer. I was just wanting to first off thank you for
taking a good first step on trying to act on climate change, by putting a price on pollution. As
a young person, I think that's really important.
My question is: With the price that you set, the money that comes back in, what level of
money is going to go into investing in nation building, renewable energy, rather than
compensating big polluters who have already made lots and lots of profits by altering our
PRIME MINISTER: Okay. Thank you. You may have a great future in journalism with
probing questions. Money paid by the 1,000 biggest polluters in the country, big businesses
that currently put carbon pollution in the atmosphere for free. We are going to use that money
to assist households, to protect Australian jobs, by working with industry, and to fund
programs to tackle climate change.
I'm not sure that tonight we can give you the scoop about exactly how all of that is going to
play out because we are still consulting on that, and we'll announce the full details on carbon
pricing in the middle of the year, and I am asking people not to fall for some of the hysteria
that's around the place, but when they have every fact and every figure, to sit down and work
it through for themselves and their family, and to look at the assistance they are getting.
But separately from what all of that will mean, we are making major investments in
innovation and in clean energy, and I might just turn to Greg Combet to talk to you about
some of them.
MR COMBET: Thank you, Prime Minister. One of the other things that we're doing,
beside trying to put a price tag on pollution, is supporting investment in renewable energy
like wind and solar power, but I think Daniel's got some familiarity with this, I met with him
earlier, we've established a target so that 20% of our electricity supply has to come from
renewable energy sources by the year 2020, and each year the level steps up until we reach
that 20% level of supply.
What that means is about $19 billion worth of investment will be going into renewable
energy out over the next 15 to 20 years, so it's a very significant level of investment. We've
got some great renewable energy resources in this country that we have to be much more
creative about harnessing, particularly solar power.
The State Government, led by Premier Mike Rann, of course, has been very active in this
area too, and he's done a lot in South Australia to harness wind power and use that in your
electricity system, but in addition we've got some significant programs supporting some of
the these technologies, including what's called the Solar Flagship Program that provides for
about $1.5 billion support for the commercialisation of large-scale solar energy as well.
So we recognise this is a very important area for us to work on, and I can assure you that it is
on the table in the discussions we're having to develop our carbon price package too.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Now we'll look for someone in the middle so we're not
discriminating in the middle. The gentleman who, I think, has a blue jumper on.
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QUESTION 9: Okay. Alan, President of the Ramsay sub-branch. My question is in
regards to the tariff for the car industry. I worked in the car industry for 27 years, and I
understand it's important, as everybody does, and we applaud your investment and what
you've done now and in the past, but the tariffs are a major sticking point for survival of the
car industry in this country, and I would just like to know are you doing anything about it?
Are you going to freeze it or make it competitive with other countries? Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. As it turns out, I've brought the world's expert on cars,
Kim Carr, with me, so I'll ask him to answer that.
SENATOR CARR: Well, what the Government is trying to do is to work with the
automotive industry, firm by firm, there's over 200 of them in the industry - to transform the
way they do business. What we want to see is that the Australian automotive industry is able
to compete with the best in the world, but to do so, by going to the top of the chain, not trying
to sink to the bottom. That means high skill, high wage jobs; it means new technologies; it
means new investment to ensure that we do things better in this country than anywhere else in
And today, for instance, at General Motors, we saw that the General Motors plant here in
Elizabeth is, in fact, the best in the GM world in terms of the way in which they are putting
their cars together. They've transformed that place, and that's the progress that we are making
with the new car plan for a greener future. We've taken the view that tariffs really are a
second order issue in the scheme of things now.
The fact remains that if you reduce the tariff from 10% - 5%, you're changing the price of a
car by about $1,000. I understand that might be a significant amount of money, but it's not as
significant as the movement in the price of the dollar, which is much higher. So we've got to
find ways to actually move in a world which is changing. We can't pretend this is what the
world was in 1960. We've got to work as the world is today, and so I take the view that the
significant new investments that we're making in the new car plan is a more effective way to
help the industry transform itself.
Now, we've managed to find massive new investments through the automotive industry at a
time when the rest of the world was really short of capital. For instance, the announcement
for the new engine plant of Toyota is one of the few in the world that is anywhere in the
world being created in this country in the middle of a really bad economic downturn for the
So I can say to you the plan is working. See what's happening at General Motors. The
company is a very different beast. It's now very, very competitive. It's putting on lots of
people, production is going up for the Cruze, production is going up for the Commodore - the
plan does work. So we simply can't rely upon sort of back-of-the-axe type approaches to try
to transform what is a really internationally competitive industry. I think the plan works best
in the way we've done it at the moment.
PRIME MINISTER: We'll take another question from this block here. Yes, the lady there
with the very beautiful scarf around your neck.
QUESTION 10: My name is Tina Turby, and first of all I have a statement to make, and
then the question will follow from that.
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PRIME MINISTER: Sure.
QUESTION 10: I'd like to thank the Government very much for the introduction of the
senior's program for the kiosks, because I'm finding so many seniors have been too scared to
try using a computer, to try looking at the Internet et cetera; they've had so much fear until
this program. I do two kiosks here, I do Virginia and I do one in Playford, in Davoren Park,
and as a result I get to see a lot of elderly people, but there's a problem with it, and this
problem is, is there any way that the Government can fund advertising to seniors so that they
know about it?
There will probably be a lot of seniors here right now that know nothing of this program and
would love to know how to use their computers, and there are kiosks for seniors all over the
place. And if you could perhaps find someone who can speak about that, I'd be really
grateful. Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Well, thank you very much. And I'm going to have to
do some research on that one, I think, unless anybody's waving at me. Tanya, who knows all
things. Thank you.
MS PLIBERSEK: No, I do know this one though. The most recent budget has set aside an
extra $10 million over four years to continue to support the 2,000 kiosks that are already
established, that give free Internet access to seniors, but also provide personal training, as
you've mentioned you're involved in.
Over 90,000 older Australians have used those seniors kiosks, and more than a third of them
have never used a computer before, so it shows the value of that. The short answer is we're
continuing to support the kiosks, and they are actually the sort of program that benefits from
the roll-out of the National Broadband Network.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Thanks very much. Now, our time is going to draw to a
close relatively soon, but what we might try is do is some rapid-fire questions and answers.
So I'll go to the lady here in the front. Rapid fire. Here comes the microphone.
QUESTION 11: Look, I suppose my concern is employment. I suppose it's selfish, really.
My son became unemployed and signed up the way he should, and they told him that he'd
have a three month wait to have an interview so that he was well placed in the job market.
And he said, "Well, what will I do in the meantime?", and they said, "Well, you can use our
computer." He can use his own computer, but three months, because he's got an extended
family and a disabled child in the family is a lot when you've got a mortgage…
PRIME MINISTER: Yes.
QUESTION: …and CES was a really, I can remember back to that and so we've privatised
it, but is it benefitting our unemployed?
PRIME MINISTER: Okay. Thanks for that question, and we'll get a rapid-fire answer
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MS ELLIS: That's a tricky one to give a rapid-fire answer to, but the short answer is that
we have set up JSA, the new system. The results do show that we're getting some excellent
outcomes. In the most recent budget we've just announced $8.5 billion for funding of the
next round of contracts from 2012 to 2015, and we're also at the same time seeing an
unemployment rate that's projected to be 4.5%; so this is exactly the market where we know
that there are employers increasingly crying out for more workers, and we're making sure that
we're investing in those employment services so we can do everything we can to make sure
no Australians are left behind, and they have the opportunity to get into work.
Now, that does mean we are increasing our focus on the very long-term unemployed, because
we know that they are much harder to move into work, but this is the environment that we
should be ensuring that all Australians who are capable of work should be able to find it, and
we're making sure that we've get the best services in place to help them.
PRIME MINISTER: The lady there with the striped T-shirt, just coming up behind you.
QUESTION 12: My name is Janet Rourke. I'd like to ask the Australian Government
what's your view on multiculturalism, because it doesn't work and it's been shown it doesn't
work in Britain, and I just hope that Australia can look at Britain and see what's happened to
it, because the people that live in there feel that they live in, they're strangers in their own
country, so all I can say is be afraid, be very afraid.
PRIME MINISTER: Okay. Thanks for your question, and I think multiculturalism is one
of those words where people can say it and mean very different things by it. We are very
clear what we mean by the word "multiculturalism", and a little bit earlier this year we
published a paper I would recommend to you, about the nature of Australia today, and the
nature of our diversity.
It makes very clear that we are a nation where we live under the same law, where we are a
democracy, are the things we ask people to commit themselves to in the citizenship pledge.
We mean very strongly, they're a participant in a democracy, that they will obey Australian
laws, that they will uphold the rights that we hold so dear in this country, but people can do
that and keep as well, a sense of their place and where they came from, and the culture that
they brought with them.
As I look across Australian cities and our great regions, yes, I see some communities where
we do feel we've got more work to do to make sure that there's a real sense of connection to
Australia and to the broader Australian nation, but I also see so many places where we've
been enriched by the diversity that has come from immigration, and where that, the culture
and vibrancy that people brought, has become part of the Australian experience and has
So that's our outlook on multiculturalism. I understand it can be a difficult word, but I think
that's the right perspective on it.
Thanks. We'll go, there's a young girl at the back.
QUESTION 13: How is it being Prime Minister?
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PRIME MINISTER: How is it being Prime Minister? Gee, this wasn't the right question
for the rapid-fire stage, was it? Well, it's a real privilege to have the opportunity to lead this
nation, and of all the things I get to do, the thing that I really like the most about this job is I
get to take questions from and meet with a lot of young Australians, and when I see them, I
think we're a country that's on the up and up.
I'm just blown away by the strength and quality of young Australians today, and that's what
this job is about. It's about making sure we have got a great future as a country, that we all
pull together, that we've got a strong economy and that we make the future a better place than
it is today, and I'm very confident with questions as good as that one from people as young as
you, that we're going to get there, and I'd also say it's not a bad job to aspire to for a young
girl, so you might want to think about it yourself.
Thank you. We've got a young boy at the front, so we'll ask him.
QUESTION 14: Hi, I'm Ben Goddard.
PRIME MINISTER: Gidday, Ben.
QUESTION: I go to school at Modbury Primary School. Just a quick question, what
school did you go to?
PRIME MINISTER: What school did I go to? I went to Mitcham Primary School, and
then I went to Unley High School, and I'll be hanging out a little bit at Mitchell Primary
School tomorrow, because it's Walk To School Day, so I'll be doing a bit of a walk to school.
It's a good school. Thank you. We'll go to the lady there; yes, you.
QUESTION 15: Ms Gillard and your fellow Cabinet Members, can you answer my
question to you, is as the following: how come nearly all your policies come from the
UN-based findings, and in saying this, why is it that the UN Cooperation Partnership, such as
the Mitsubishi Corporation, are often rewarded the Government contracts through the PPP,
Public Private Partnerships, and which, in which in returns often means that a lot of
Australians taxpayers' money goes overseas, with a little benefit to both our economy and
ongoing costs through soft fragrance and frank contacts? The people demand more
accountability and transparency as we are paying the huge overheads for such actions.
PRIME MINISTER: Okay. Thank you. Well, I agree with you, that Australians are
entitled to expect from us as a Government transparency and accountability, and Community
Cabinet is one way we do that, where we come and we see what people want to raise with us,
and what's on people's minds.
But, generally, can I say to you we generate our policies here in Australia for what we believe
is best for the future of the country, yes; we look overseas for things that people have done.
It would be pretty foolish not to look at what's happening in comparable nations and see if
there's not something to learn. We do do that, but we always make sure that the programs
we're designing are the right programs to build our country, the way that we want it built.
And, yes, we do trade and we do engage in the global economy. That's the best way of
making sure Australians have got the benefits of prosperity. We are a great trading nation, so
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we've got nothing to fear on the world stage, we are good at what we do, and we can take it to
Now, I'm going to take one more question, and then I think we're going to have to bring it to
an end. The gentleman towards the back, just in a few. Yes, you, sir. You're looking behind
you now. Yes.
QUESTION 16: Thank you, Prime Minister. I'm heading overseas to Ireland in September.
Do I buy euro and pounds now, or is our dollar going to get stronger and stronger? Thank
PRIME MINISTER: Now, I think we're going to have to end on that question, because
that's the question of the night. Look, of the various obligations you have as Prime Minister,
currency speculation isn't one of then, so I can't help you with that, but whatever the
exchange rate is at the time you go, something tells me you're going to enjoy a few pints of
Guinness while you're there, and some time in some Irish pubs, so I wish you well with that.
And can I say to the audience and everybody who's come along to make this such a great
occasion, thank you very much for your questions. I've enjoyed it. We wanted to come and
hear your views, and I think we've sampled a wide range of views tonight; and I do want to
say, Helen, thank you very, very much for everything that you've done to make this possible
in your school.
I know that it ends up being a bit of disruption, but it's a fantastic experience for us, and it's
great to have been here in your school and to have some contact with your students as we've
prepared, and during the course of today. To all of the rest of the staff that make Community
Cabinet possible, thank you very much. Thank you to all of you, and good evening.
(end of meeting)
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