Campbelltown Community Cabinet meeting - The Department of the .rtf by censhunay


									  Community Cabinet Meeting – Campbelltown Performing Arts High School,
                          Campbelltown, NSW
                      Tuesday 17 February 2009

Robyn Pulbrook:         Good evening. My name is Robyn Pulbrook and I’m the very
proud principal of Campbelltown Performing Arts High School. Welcome to
Campbelltown Performing Arts High School and thank you for attending. Before we
start, a few pieces of housekeeping information. Please ensure your mobile phones are
turned off and school also has a no smoking policy so please refrain from smoking in
the building or within the grounds of the school.

You may have noticed tonight a number of our students in blazers with plastic buckets
collecting donations for the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. Our students have already
raised $1830.10 at a school performance assembly. (Applause.) Yes, I think so too.
And they did that at something like what you’ve just seen and we’d love to increase
that amount tonight. If you enjoyed tonight’s performances – and they were all
students of our school – and would like to contribute to our students’ fundraising
efforts, please feel free to drop a coin in the buckets as you leave tonight. As the
message on our collection bucket says ‘united we can make a difference’ and
Australia’s already shown that, and as people of Campbelltown I am sure that we can
show our generosity.

Tonight you have watched just a few of our amazing and talented performers. I’d like
to thank on your behalf our students and staff who’ve performed, catered and ushered
and done an absolutely fantastic job. (Applause.) And just a cheeky plug, next week
there’ll be an information night if you are interested in our school, next Tuesday
night’s the night for it. Okay, let’s go back to business.

The public forum will commence very shortly with an address from the Prime
Minister, Kevin Rudd. Please feel free to take photos at the beginning of the Prime
Minister’s speech. However, we would ask that you refrain from flash photography
after the first few minutes. At the end of the Prime Minister’s address there will be an
opportunity to ask questions of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Ministers. If you
wish to ask a question, raise your hand – it’s a bit like school. If selected, a
Community Cabinet staff member will bring a microphone to you. Please let the staff
member hold the microphone for you. Introduce yourself and please keep your
questions short and concise. This will enable as many people as possible to ask

After the main session, there will be a break of approximately ten minutes after which
the prearranged one on one scheduled meetings will commence. Persons with a
confirmed, prearranged one on one scheduled meeting should remain in the hall and
wait for directions from the Community Cabinet staff and they’re the ones in the
attractive blue polos. A reminder also about the post event enquiry process available
at today’s meeting. If you do not get the opportunity to ask a question in today’s
forum you can fill out a post event enquiry form. You will find the post event enquiry
forms at the registration desk. Simply fill out the post enquiry form and Community
Cabinet staff, once again in those wonderful polo shirts, will deliver the forms to the
relevant minister for a response. It now gives me great pleasure to invite Glenda

Chalker, a Dauru woman from the Cubbitch-Barter clan to come to the microphone
and give the welcome to country.

Glenda Chalker:         Thank you Robyn. Good evening. As Robyn just said, my
name’s Glenda Chalker. I’m a Dharawal woman of the Cubbitch Barter clan who
were also called the Cowpastures tribe by the early explorers and colonists because of
the association with the missing cattle from Sydney who were found in the area that
they called the Cowpastures. Cubbitch Barter actually means ‘white pipe clay plenty’.
I’ve been asked today to welcome you to the traditional lands of my grandmothers
and grandfathers who have gone before us. They belonged to this land, the land was
their mother, their provider of all their needs – food, shelter, clothing and medicine –
and so I take this opportunity of welcoming you here today – especially to our Prime
Minister, Mr Rudd, whom all the Aboriginal people in this room and in the local
community thank for the 13 February 2008 (applause) with your apology to the
Aboriginal people of Australia. I would also like to acknowledge and pay my respects
to the elders, past and present, of other Aboriginal people here tonight. Thank you.

Robyn Pulbrook:       Thank you, Glenda – a wonderful contributor to our
community. I would now ask our audience to stand and I am going to introduce James
Cassar. You actually heard him earlier on, a Year 11 student from our school who will
be singing the National Anthem. I hope you heard that. Here he comes. (Applause.)
Thank you, James.

It now gives me great pleasure to introduce the Mayor of Campbelltown, Councillor
Russell Matheson, to speak. (Applause.)

Councillor Russell Matheson:           Thank you very much, Robyn. Thank you,
Glenda, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of Campbelltown City
Council and the residents of our city, it gives me great pleasure in welcoming the
Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Kevin Rudd, MP, and his Cabinet Ministers to
tonight’s Community Cabinet meeting in our great city, the City of Campbelltown
and particularly to the Campbelltown Performing Arts High School. I am sure it is
very much a proud moment for the Principal, Robyn Pulbrook and her very talented
students to be able to host such an event.

First, we would like to pay respects to and acknowledge the Dauru people who are the
traditional custodians of the land we stand on this evening. I would also like to
recognise Mr Rudd and his team for their swift and decisive action in responding to
the tragic and large scale bushfires in Victoria. His leadership and the Government’s
commitment to providing community support has been vital in helping restore the
spirit of the Victorian people after the loss and tragedy experienced by so many.
Australia is known throughout the world for its egalitarian culture and commitment to
a ‘fair go’, a significant part of our national identity is a strong belief that no matter
who you are or where you are from, you have the opportunity to have your voice
heard and make your vote count.

Today’s meeting demonstrates the Rudd Government’s determination to give all
Australian’s the opportunity to meet with our nation’s decision makers in person and
ask them questions directly about the issues important to them. I have no doubt the

residents expressing their opinions here tonight will feel empowered and inspired and
will continue to participate in the democratic process which determines our nations
future. In his maiden speech Mr Rudd declared ‘I have no intention of being here for
the sake of just being here. My intention is, ‘to make a difference’. Some of the best
leaders in history are those who demonstrate their integrity through their actions
rather than through their rhetoric.

During his time as Prime Minister, Mr Rudd and his Government have already made
significant achievements and changes from ratifying the Kyoto protocol, abolishing
Work Choices, making an historic apology to Australia’s stolen generation, to
delivering $42 billion stimulus package to deal with the global financial crisis. As the
Mayor of Campbelltown, a thriving regional centre, home to more than 150,000
residents, I recognise the importance of strong leadership in turbulent times. I would
like to congratulate Mr Rudd on his move to create stronger and more coherent
relationships between all levels of government and particularly his commitment to
constitutional recognition of local government and the establishment of the Australian
Council of Local Government. As the third tier of government, Councils have the
most direct impact on the daily lives of Australians. As civic leaders, I can say on
behalf of all the Campbelltown City Councillors, we do not take our responsibilities

Campbelltown City Council is committed to ensuring our city is a leader in local
government and continues to work with the local community and surrounding areas to
make the most of these opportunities. I look forward to hearing the feedback and
questions from all the community members here this evening. It now gives me great
pleasure to welcome to the microphone the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon.
Kevin Rudd (applause).

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:           Thank you for that very
warm Campbelltown welcome and it’s good to be here in Sydney’s great South West.
Russell, the Mayor, thank you for your words of civic welcome, to Robyn Pulbrook,
the Principal here at this great Performing Arts High School here at Campbelltown,
Glenda Chalker, thank you very much for your Welcome to Country. That means a lot
to us. Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard and my ministerial colleagues who I will
name and identify in a minute, Pat Farmer, the Member for Macarthur. Good to see
you here, Pat. Chris Hayes, the Member for Werriwa, Senator Steve Hutchins, the
Senator for New South Wales, Senator Ursula Stephens, Senator for New South
Wales, and also the school captains, Maanav Ram, Julie Guan, Crystal Wood and
Sara Moe. Thank you for greeting me today at this wonderful school and it’s good to
be here in Campbelltown.

And I begin by acknowledging the first Australians on whose land we meet and
whose cultures we celebrate as the oldest continuing cultures in human history. Think
about that, the oldest continuing cultures in human history. For us a privilege as
Australians all to have with us, sharing this continent, the oldest continuing cultures in
human history. It still takes your breath away. And it’s also great to be at the school
which has such a track record of excellence and one which is a leader in indigenous
education. The school’s depth of talent is reflected in the fact that both teachers and
students are winning prizes everywhere, like the students’ success at the TSA national
song writing competition at Tamworth, alongside the Golden Guitar award for

songwriting that I understand was won by Ken McBeath, the head teacher in
Performing Arts. Is Ken here tonight? I don’t know if anyone has won a golden guitar
that I ever met before so good on you, Ken. Well done.

And of course the school’s achievements and contributions to the local community
have been recognised in many other areas in recent times. Now today in coming here I
stopped off at the Minto Public School and I’d not been there before. I’d heard a little
bit about it. I think from what the teacher, the Principal, Vicky Cray, said to me … are
you here, Vicky? In case I verbal you this evening. That’s good, I can make it up then.
What Vicky was explaining to me with her kids. She’s got 167 kids at that little
school and it’s a very practical illustration of what we’re trying to do to help build
local communities. Those 167 kids, what we have passed through the Parliament as of
last week is the single biggest school modernisation program in Australia’s history
and where the rubber hits the road is at that little school because for a school that size,
I’m advised, there will be a grant of up to $2 million to invest in either a 21st century
learning centre, that is, a state of the art 21st century library or an assembly hall for
the kids, all purpose, for performing arts and/or for an indoor gymnasium or the
modernisation of classrooms, some of them are still demountables. In fact, the library
that is there at the moment is a demountable, and it’s got a few computer terminals, it
needs more to plug into the rest of the world.

So in visiting Minto today with those wonderful little tots aged 4, 5 and 6, whose
colouring in within the lines was much neater than mine. What we’re doing, and Julia
leading this as Education Minister, as Deputy Prime Minister, is taking the education
revolution down to each primary school community in the nation and that for us is
really important. It starts here on the ground. Also this week as has been reflected in
the comments before, myself and various ministers in the government have been
engaged in the extraordinary tragedy that we have seen in Victoria, but you know
something? Again the story of Campbelltown is alive in that because it’s not just what
governments do in response to tragedies such as we have seen, it is what local
communities across Australia have done including your local community here at

I listen carefully to what was said before here at this school, $1800 has been raised.
Put your hands together for these kids. I think that’s just extraordinary. (Applause.)
But right across Australia in every community, people have been asking themselves
this very simple, practical question. ‘How can I help? What can I do to make a
difference?’ Everyone has been asking themselves that question. And as I’ve
answered that question, the answers have come loud and clear from this community as
well, like the blokes at Storage King at Ingleburn who set up a place for people to
donate goods for the Victorian Bushfire families, thank you to Storage King. The
team at Mills Transport who’ve said they’ll take as many trips down to Victoria as is
needed. Thank you to Mills Transport. And I also congratulate Mayor Matheson who
on his initiative set up a local Bushfire appeal fund.

Right across Australia, communities like this have done the same thing and I take my
hat off to you. Thank you on behalf of the nation. (Applause.)

Right now we are also dealing with the challenge of this global financial crisis
becoming a global economic recession and it’s impact on jobs right across the world,

including Australia, and it is at a time like these that governments must lead from the
front because there are two courses of action. You either stand to one side and wait
for an economic cyclone to hit or you stand in its path and you say ‘here is a way to
confront this challenge’. We’ve taken the second course of action and that’s why in
the Parliament last week we legislated for a $42 billion nation building and jobs plan
for the future and the reason for that is that we don’t intend to sit down and just take
this as it comes. We intend to fight. We will fight this economic crisis, we will fight
this financial crisis, we will fight it with everything that lies within the armoury of
government and we’ll do so in partnership with business right across the country as
well, in partnership with local communities such as this one because we can’t make
the crisis go away. It’s a crisis which began in America and it has spread right across
the world, moving like a hurricane from one economy to the next, but you know what
we can do. We can reduce its impact. We can’t eliminate its impact, we can reduce its
impact and that’s why this nation building and jobs plan is so important. To reduce its
impact here in local communities such as in Sydney’s south west. We began last
October when we announced a $10.4 billion economic security strategy, payments we
made to pensioners and others leading up to Christmas, support pensioners doing it
tough, but importantly to make sure that also helping our retail sector out there who
employ literally millions of Australians.

Of course that was just step one. Step two is the $42 billion plan I’ve just referred to
and that is designed to support around 90,000 jobs for Australians at a time when jobs
are under pressure. As I’ve said before and I say again, what we will do in the future
is take whatever further action is necessary to continue to support growth and jobs in
Australia in the uncertain economic times which lie ahead.

Here in the local area, I’ve mentioned Minto School, but you know in this area
everyone of the 47 primary, K to 12 and special needs schools will have capital
funding provided for essential new buildings and upgrades as part of the building the
education revolution program. Let me say this again clearly for each of you present.
Each and every one of those 47 schools – primary, special needs and K to 12 – and we
will calibrate the amount of money into those schools based on the school population
and we intend to work with each local P & C, each local P & F, government schools,
non-government schools, to make sure that we are building the schools we need for
the 21st century. But as we do that we are also doing it deliberately in areas like this
and areas like it across the country to create jobs in this difficult year ahead – the
tradies, the plumbers, the carpenters, those who go in and build things, make things,
and repair things. If the economy is doing it tough because the private sector is doing
it tough, it’s the time for government to step in, and that’s what we’re doing. That’s
what we’re doing through this initiative. Building the schools that our kids need for
the 21st century, building the education revolution and at the same time creating jobs
and employment in local areas, right across Australia – 47 schools in this area, seven
and a half thousand schools across the country and helping with their maintenance as

Of course local families have been assisted by other things as well – 10,920 families
will receive a back to school bonus of $950 to help with the cost of returning their
kids to school this year. Up to 3649 kids and people looking for work will receive a
training and learning bonus of $950 to support their study costs. Eligible families will
be able to install insulation in the family home for free or apply for a rebate of up to

$1600 for solar hot water. Small businesses will have new incentives to invest and to
build their businesses and we’ll be building across the nation 20,000 new homes
which we need for those families who are struggling to pay rent, low income families,
older Australians who need a helping hand through this new, big approach to social
housing. These are the elements of what we have embraced for the nation. These are
the elements which then flow through to your community here in Sydney’s south west
because you know something? As we confront this economic crisis we are all in this
together – government, community, business, unions and together we’re going to see
it through.

Of course, other programs that the government has been implementing for some time
have already been at work on the ground. The Deputy Prime Minister and Education
Minister has been hard at work with providing funding for computers in schools as
part of our digital education revolution, and two weeks ago we announced the details
of our second round of funding for computers in schools including 214 computers for
the John Ferry Catholic High, 195 for Magdalene Catholic High, 136 for St Patrick’s
College and 64 for Macarthur Anglican School. These will be rolled out over time
across the nation in each community. Why? Every kid, wherever they have grown up,
deserves a first class education and a first class passport to the future, and that means
linking them to the digital education revolution as well.

Communities like this also need their basic infrastructure attended to and I know that
every morning by the time the sun rises out here in Campbelltown, F5 is completely
choked and I know that it is still choked as the sun sets at the end of the day as well
and that’s why this government has taken action. I’ve got a strong view about
government, that we’re not just there to pass the time of day. We are here to make a
difference and we intend to make that difference in this area as well. Prior to the
election we undertook that we would deliver the widening of the F5. It won’t be
finished overnight, it’s a major road construction project costing $140 million, with
the Commonwealth providing the lion’s share of around 80 per cent, but once it’s
finished, it will make a big difference to local communities and we intend to get on
with the job, and we will and that work is now being commissioned by us. It is aimed
to ease traffic on local roads, cut commuting times and help as more families settle in
Campbelltown in future years.

Also in local community infrastructure, the Government today has approved more
than $4 million to build and upgrade various parts of community infrastructure in
Sydney’s south west as part of our investment of supporting jobs and the local
economy. Local councils will receive this funding for important local projects such as
a new baseball complex at Woodlands Road, a community centre and youth hub at
Tarmoor, seating at the Whitlam leisure centre and upgrading playgrounds across
Camden. Without Federal funding these projects would have remained in the ‘too
hard basket’. Councils’ funding is as follows – Campbelltown City Council one and a
half million dollars, Liverpool $1.25 million, Camden $606,000, Wollondilly
$638,000. Also other specific projects approved are the Eskhill Park for
redevelopment of the sporting fields to provide improved recreational use $142,000;
Macquarie Fields, refurbishing and improving the Macquarie Fields Park change
rooms $125,000; Bob Prenter Reserve, refurbishing of playing field $120,000; Reisal
Park, installing new playground equipment and softball rubber for kids $120,000;
Woodlands Road, developing the new Woodlands Road baseball complex, which I’ve

just referred to; Clark Reserve, also Bradbury Park, upgrade to the amenities and
change room facilities; the Campbelltown swimming centre, refurbishment $100,000;
the St Helen’s Park community hall $100,000; Binman Park, restoration of the
playing surface to provide improved facilities for Glenfield community $90,000;
Mawson Park, constructing new playground equipment and soft all rubber, $80,000;
and other projects as well.

Why did I go through that long list? We’ve actually worked hard with local
government to work out what you need here locally and these very practical local
level projects, which many of you will use in your local community. We want to get
behind them in a very practical funding way which is why we have done what we
have done, which brings me to why we are here tonight, and that is not for me to talk
to you, but for me to listen to you and for my colleagues to listen to you. You have
before you virtually the entire Cabinet. One or two may be missing – Jenny Macklin,
for example, is attending to her duties in Victoria with the bushfires, but she is well
represented by her colleagues including Bill Shorten who is her Parliamentary
Secretary and others, but we are here to answer, as best we can, any question you put
to us. This is the tenth time since we’ve been in government, which has been a bit
more than a year now, that we have gone out to a community somewhere in Australia
to actually open ourselves up to hearing directly from you – what we’re doing right,
what we’re doing wrong - questions you have for us about why we’re doing the things
that we’re doing, ideas you have for us about what you would want us to do further,
either for the nation or for your local community.

I don’t expect everyone in this room to agree with everything the Government’s on
about. That would be unnatural. This is a democracy and it’s Australia. We all have a
right to disagree and we celebrate that right, but what we are here to do tonight is to
actually listen to what you’ve got to say and so, as I open the forum, we look forward
very much to your contribution. It’s part of us keeping in touch with the local
community. As we have done this in Penrith in Western Sydney, we have done this in
South Eastern Queensland, we’ve done this in Mackay, we’ve done it in Aboriginal
communities in Arnhem Land, in the southern suburbs of Perth, in the southern
suburbs of Adelaide, Geelong and at Launceston in Tasmania, and I’ve probably
missed one or two on the run through. Our mission is the same. This government, so
long as it is in office, wishes to remain anchored and connected to what local
communities in Australia are saying to us. Canberra can become a remote place. The
reason we take the Cabinet out of Canberra to the community is to engage with you in
the community to hear from you first hand about what you need from us. Enough
from me, folks. Thank you for listening. (Applause.)

There is a very simple rule of thumb here. I call the shots, and it’s a bit like this,
there’s no maths to it. I am going to move from that row to that row to that row and as
I see your hands go up I will try and make a note and then come back in rotating
order. The truth is by the time we get through to when we need to close this part of the
evening, I won’t get to everybody, that’s just the reality, but a whole stack of you
have booked times with each of these ministers and what you haven’t been able to
raise in public session, I expect you will be able to raise in private session with them,
and that’s why we’re here. Starting over here and then moving this way. There is a
lady here, I think. Caroline. Here’s a microphone for you.

Question 1: Prime Minister, there are several rivers in this area, in Macarthur,
being wrecked by mining and I just wondered is the Federal Cabinet aware of the
escalation of damage to river systems and catchments all over the country through
escalation of mining operations that are going too close or under rivers.

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:             On the detailed local
rivers, no I’m not familiar. In terms of how we handle this generally nationally, I
might flip to Peter. Is that okay, in terms of environmental management with river
catchment systems across the country. Over to you, mate.

Peter Garrett, Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts:             Thanks
Prime Minister. We’re certainly aware of the importance of groundwater resources for
both farmers and also for the local community and we do know that there are some
concerns about the potential impact and the impact of potential mining developments
can have. You would be aware that the regulation of those matters is primarily a
responsibility of NSW, but it is the case that the Government has provided a
contribution of I think about one and a half million to be matched by NSW and the
mining industry to do a joint study to look into what’s happening when the surface
and ground water areas of resources, specifically in the Namoi, and that includes the
Peel and the Mookie Rivers, the Mall and Plain Creeks and the Ginsleap constructions
and that study is meant to provide additional understanding of the quantity and quality
of the water resources, make sure that we’re better informed about the decision
making that has to happen at our end and we’re waiting for confirmation that that will
be matched so those studies can go ahead, but we’re aware of those issues.

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:           Thank you very much.
Sir. It’s on the way.

Question 2: Geoff Perry. The University of Western Sydney now has three cohorts
of medical students, about three hundred. They’ve already outgrown the facilities
available to them at Campbelltown Hospital, already outgrown them. Is it possible
that some of the $42 billion might be used for an education centre, clinical school
complex at Campbelltown Hospital to train the next generation of doctors for Western
Sydney which we just can’t get at the moment.

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:           Good on you, mate, good
question. Nicola Roxon, the Health Minister, tells me she’s been out to University of
Western Sydney today and she’s going to respond.

Nicola Roxon, Minister for Health and Ageing: Thank you very much. Yes I took
the opportunity with Chris Hayes to go out to Campbelltown Hospital today and of
course you know that part of their clinical school is now at the hospital. They raised
this exact point with me and just for other members of the audience, one of the
paediatricians, who happens to now be the State Member of Parliament, said in his 15
years, he’s trained 300 students and only one has ever stayed and worked in
Campbelltown and that was his wife.

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:           I am pleased about that.

Nicola Roxon, Minister for Health and Ageing: The proposal that’s been put to us
and something that we have put money into the COAG agreement that was reached
between the States and Territories and the Commonwealth late last year is actually to
look at the way the Commonwealth contributes to paying for those clinical
placements to make sure that we have some say in where they will be placed to make
sure that training people in the region means they’ve got a better chance of staying in
the region. I think the intake, University of Western Sydney was telling me, is now 60
per cent from the local community so as those students start coming on line then of
course there’ll be many opportunities for them to stay so what we’ve committed to in
COAG is to put money into those clinical placements, make sure that we can train
students in areas where they’re needed and I would be remiss in not telling the
meeting that the University did take the opportunity to raise with me that they have an
infrastructure application that they would like to put forward to the government and of
course we would consider in the future.

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:               Thank you for that.
Council for Australian Governments met last December as Nicola mentioned, that’s
the Federal government, the Australian Government, six State governments, two
Territory governments. The whole question of, shall we say, long term workforce
planning and provisioning for medical and nursing staff was a core part of the agenda.
One of the agreements, a new national policy agreement we reached with the States
and Territories is specifically on this. It is designed to deal with the problems which
Nicola has just referred to. In our first twelve months in government that is one step in
that direction on the infrastructure matter that you raised. Of course it will be into the
mix in terms of what can be funded. The gentleman with the beard.

Question 3: James Barry. I just wish to ask you a question. You mentioned some
very nice schools that are out here and that, but my son attends a public school out
here. Is there still a problem with the State, public, the computers, funding process
and that sort of thing. He votes in two years’ time and he might not see his computer
so how is it going between the States in regard to public schools.

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:              One comment from me
and then to Julia. Can I just say that the $15 billion school investment plan that we
have announced applies to every primary school in the country and it applies to
provisions for funding for 500 of the two and a half thousand secondary schools in the
country based on needs. On the primary school program we are simply going for the
whole country because we need stimulus across the country and the needs are great,
but can I say that what Julia’s been doing up until now with computers in schools,
trades training centres and the rest, she’s had a very keen eye on an analysis of where
the needs lie most and to get that out the door as quickly as possible. Julia.

Julia Gillard, Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace
Relations, Minister for Social Inclusion: Where we are with computers in schools,
we had a first round at the start of last year for schools. That round was open to public
and private schools, our first round in 2008, so elected in 2007, early months of 2008,
the first round was conducted. That was open to public and private schools that had a
ratio of children to computers of one to eight or worse. A large number of schools in
NSW succeeded in that round. More than $50 million of that round was due to go to
NSW. The NSW Government said that they wanted to work with the Federal

government to talk about oncosts of keeping the computers maintained and the like.
That issue was resolved at the end of last year and the NSW Government is now
actioning delivering the computers which we funded in that first round. Then we
opened a second round. The NSW Government is now having its own second round
because the oncosts issues has been resolved. That’s happening very quickly so at the
end of a very short period of time from where we are now NSW will be in exactly the
same position as all the other States, round 1 and round 2 will have been delivered.
Oncost issues have been resolved. The aim out of round 1 and round 2 is to bring
every school to a 1 to 2 ratio, one computer to two kids, and then we will keep
running further rounds to deliver on our promise of a ratio of one computer to one
child for years 9 to 12 so the programming is running out quickly and it’s in a position
now where the NSW Government is working to get the computers from round 1 into
the hands of students.

Question 3: And if we don’t see anything in six month time, you don’t mind us
sending an email.

Julia Gillard, Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace
Relations, Minister for Social Inclusion: You will be more than welcome to send
me an email and even send it sooner than that.

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:             Thank you. The lady over
here in red.

Question 4: Yes, Mr Rudd, it’s Anne Lawler. I was very happy to hear you say that
you’re going to fight this global financial crisis with all of the armourment of
government. What I’d like to ask is can I feel confident that if a Pecora type
commission and investigation into the $14 trillion of derivatives that our Australian
banks are carrying would you back that investigation because to continue to try and, I
suppose, come up with the money to cover those derivatives is like what Weimar
Germany did in 1923 which is really going to bring about inflation so would you back
an investigation into the banking system?

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:                 On the global financial
crisis as a whole what we must do is do two things. Get the analysis right of what
went wrong and that’s complex and you’ve pointed to part of it which is, I’ve got to
say, greed out of control, absolute greed out of control in underregulated financial
markets and that’s what’s happened. The second thing we must do is act now to deal
with the damage being done to the real economy and that is why we have explained
tonight our national approach through two levels of nation building programs, one at
the end of last year and the one I’ve just outlined today to do with schools, but the
third is this. Then to act globally and nationally which prevents this sort of crisis
occurring again. You cannot do that singly as one country because the global financial
system is linked. One of the agenda items we have at the G20 meeting, group of 20
economies meeting in London scheduled for the first two days of April, which I will
be attending, representing Australia, is this question that you raise and other related
questions which is how do you regulate financial markets in the future so that there
are proper prudential standards, that means proper supervision of the health of private
financial institutions, proper supervision of what they do and proper what’s called
stress testing of their ability to survive crises into the future. Each of those things is

being dealt with in sequence, we’ve got to deal with the immediate hurricane now and
its effect on people’s real jobs and at the same time have a mechanism to fix the rules
for the future, not just for us, but for the rest of the global financial system as well.
Thank you. The lady over here, yes, that’s you with your hand up.

Question 5: I’ve got two questions regarding interest rates and petrol. Here in
Sydney we’ve had petrol averaging around $1.28 a litre for the past six weeks. I’m
sick of seeing it and I don’t think that Coles and Woolies have the right to continue
this extortion of the country and also with interest rates the full value of interest rates
are not coming through to people on mortgages and nor is it happening to businesses
either. Everybody’s struggling and the government has given the banks a fantastic
carrot by giving them the deposits up to a million dollars. Where’s the stick?

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:                On this, what we need
overall for the health of the Australian banking and financial system is to make sure
that they are still properly functioning. First responsibility of government is to make
sure we have banks which are functioning. If I look around the world and we’ve had
30 to 35 which have collapsed, my first responsibility in this country, as is the
Treasurer’s, is to make sure we have continued stability of our financial system, that’s
the first thing. The second is by taking actions like we have through the guarantees
we’ve provided to people’s deposits and that’s every deposit holder in this room, by
the way, every deposit holder in this room and secondly through the guarantees we’ve
provided the banks as governments for their interbank lending from overseas, our task
has been this, not just to stabilise the system, but to get the money flowing again into
real businesses that count in the Australian economy. Now we are only part the way
down that road. You know why we are only part the way down that road? It goes back
to the question just asked me by the lady over here, and that is the rest of the world
has still got a lot of fixing up to do and if the rest of the world and its banking system
is not normalised and stabilised yet, it’s less money that can come into our economy
to help with the loans etc. which make our businesses turn around.

Thirdly, on the flow through of the benefits that we have provided as a government to
the banking system, you’re dead right. They’ve got to be fair dinkum and fair dinkum
on a continuing basis to those paying mortgages, to those paying off credit cards and
to those using other forms of credit including small businesses. On the question of
mortgage payments and mortgage rates we have said consistently to the banks that
when the reserve bank cuts rates we expect that to be passed through in full as rapidly
as possible to people who are doing it tough in the community. Now the performance
in certain areas, including on credit cards, has been uneven. You’re right on that, but
we intend to keep the stick on them as much as possible in order to make sure that
people out there in the community, people doing it tough in small business are getting
a fair shake. Treasurer, do you want to add?

Wayne Swan, Treasurer: Yes, thanks very much, Prime Minister. It is true that
the banks have been beneficiaries if you like of the very strong action that the
government took to guarantee deposits and also to guarantee term funding and it is the
case that they do have an obligation in terms of their actions to ensure that we do see
the full flow through of monetary policy into the community. So there’s been
substantial reductions in cash rates by the Reserve Bank and most of that has been
passed through directly to people with mortgages. Not all of it, and that’s why we are

very insistent that when cash rate reductions of the size of 100 basis points are
announced by the Reserve Bank that we get full pass through of that as quickly as
possible. It is the case that there is about 50 basis points in the system roughly
depending on where you are when you took out your loan, who you bank with, that
has not been passed through, and we would like to see that pass through as quickly as
possible. But it is also the reality that we are in a very difficult international financial
environment where the banks fund themselves by borrowing off shore so they are also
impacted upon by offshore influences which don’t relate directly to domestic policy
settings, but we have got the banks very much in our eyesight when it comes to full
pass through of mortgage rate reductions and, as the Prime Minister said, not only
when it comes to mortgage rates, but also to credit card rates and also to loans to
small business and I might just add there was an issue in the media over the last
couple of days of what may happen with fees charged for the use of ATMs. This is a
reform which has been bought forward by the Reserve Bank to ensure that there is
greater competition out there amongst providers of these machines and if the banks
try to use this as an opportunity to gouge their customers the government will come
down very heavily on them I can assure you of that. (Applause.)

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:              This lady here yes.

Question 6: Thank you and thank you for this forum. Myself and two colleagues,
we work at a 24 hour crisis refuge for adolescents. We are very concerned about an
issue of that we have seven ex-clients that … young families that have had all their
children removed in care. I wanted to bring it to your attention tonight because it
came to the media a couple of weeks ago and we haven’t heard anything else and we
are directly involved with these families as we speak and Minister Linda Bertram met
some of them on Friday and so did some of the other Ministers here so they see the
faces of the devastation that this has caused but there are only seven cases that we
directly work with. I know personally of nine and so I’m asking how many others are
there that we don’t know about that we are really proactively fighting to unite these
families rather than have the resources go into paying for child care outside the family
unit. The family unit is where we have to come back to.

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:           Thank you for your
question. In an open forum like this I am always very reluctant to go to the detail of
individual cases for the simple reason we don’t know the detail. Can I suggest that
when we conclude here – Bill, put up your hand – I suggest you tackle Bill to the
ground and extract a satisfactory answer from him and if we don’t have the facts to
hand we’ll seek to get back to you on the facts. Young fellow up the front here, that’s
you, mate.

Question 7: Good evening, Prime Minister. My name is Jeremy Travers. During
the election I noted that the now government plan to give young people a voice in
government in terms of public policy and things like that. The only thing that my
friends and I have noticed is the creation of the Australian Youth Forum so my
question is how does the government intend to give young people more of a voice in
developing governmental policy. (Applause.)

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:         Good on you. You’re
right and we want to engage and of course we engage the general community by

doing things like this. Let me give you one example of how we did this last year and it
was in March-April last year we convened a national 2020 summit. What was that
about? That was about us going to the nation at large and saying ‘what ideas do you
have in ten key challenge areas for Australia’s future?’ and the input we got from the
country at large was huge. I said then that we would report back by years end on that.
I haven’t done that yet because the report is completed, but we’ve been actually
preoccupied with the global financial crisis and, most recently, events in Victoria, but
it will come soon. Within that we then had a 2020 youth forum as well and that was
convened by the Minister for Youth, Kate Ellis, and again that was an excellent
exercise, not just within that group of 100 young people, as I recall it who came to
Canberra from across the country, but in schools across the nation there were 2020
forums held literally thousands of them and we have received the input from all of
those. That’s what occurred last year.

The national youth round table that you just referred to is another continuing
mechanism for engaging young people, but coming out of our response to the 2020
exercise and out of the 2020 youth forum exercise we’ll have further to say about how
we, on a systematic basis into the future, get your voice into government. Easy to say,
harder to do, but can I just say to you, what makes it possible for us to continue to
innovate with policy in Australia is to have the direct input of the community and
young people who have their nose to the ground so once we respond to 2020 we will
come back to you with our proposals for the future and how to do it and the
responsible minister who is here with me tonight in Kate Ellis’s absence, who will
take responsibility for it, will be Julia, the Deputy Prime Minister, and if you haven’t
booked into see Julia can you just make sure we have your contact details later so that
when we announce what we are going to do, you’re informed directly. Okay. Thanks.
The gentleman over here.

Question 8: Bob Kijurina. I live locally and I’m most interested in what the
government has to offer. Two matters. As a part time TAFE teacher, I have been
looking forward to getting a computer, but in the TAFE College I attend we are short
of computers for students and I personally would love to get a nice, well, what do they
call them? A small portable computer. (Amusement expressed by those present.)
Sorry, I’m not very good with the jargon, but I’d love to have a computer like that
because I can’t get access …

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:            What model in particular
would you like?

Question 8:    Well is one of the ministers taking notes?

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:            I think we’re about to, but
go on.

Question 8: Prime Minister, the issue of TAFE funding of improving TAFE
infrastructure, TAFE teachers are complaining all the time, they have been forgotten.
You appear to be funding private trade colleges, but I may be wrong, I see Julia is
nodding side to side.

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:            I think that’s called a
shake, not a nod.

Question 8: Thank you for correcting me. As a teacher, I like being corrected.
Prime Minister, the other matter is that of irrigation.

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:          Can I just do the TAFE
one? (Laughter.) And Julia’s going to answer because I think she’s got a nice half
billion dollar surprise for you. There you go.

Julia Gillard, Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace
Relations, Minister for Social Inclusion: We’re very conscious that TAFE
campuses around the country need new infrastructure. We’ve done two things. We
made an announcement about a special allocation of half a billion dollars at the end of
last year for TAFE so for public providers, TAFE, half a billion dollars around the
country to modernise infrastructure; secondly, we’ve created this thing called the
Education Investment Fund and it is going to be a long term funding vehicle for
infrastructure for universities and for vocational education and training because we
understand that this needs to be an ongoing commitment and that is one of our nation
building funds into the future so that we can modernise and keep modernising the
things you work with. On the question of the laptop, we’d have to talk about that.
Obviously the provision of computing technology directly is done by the people who
run your TAFE system, but we are there working with them on the infrastructure with
a new half a billion dollars.

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:            Can I just say this? We
talk about the education revolution. What’s it mean? We’ve got to set our goals for
the nation. We want to be and become the best educated, best trained, best skilled
work force in the world and none of that comes for free and what it means is that you
have therefore got to have a big investment program for the future and what you
provide in our primary schools, in our early childhood education, in our secondary
schools, in our TAFEs , in our technical college, in our universities, in our research
institutes right across the whole spectrum of innovation. That’s what our vision for the
country is and what you see with what we are doing is tackling each one of those
building blocks, each one of them.

On primary schools, we’ve spoken tonight about the fact that there is a $15 billion
modernisation program heading down the railway tracks. For the universities in the
course of the last twelve months we’ve allocated a special grant of an additional $1
billion to deal with their capital backload, half a billion dollars towards the TAFE
sector. Now when it comes to early childhood education, Julia is also rolling out our
pre-election commitments on that and we have further to do across the spectrum.
None of this comes for free, but what I am saying to you is that we have a plan to do
this and in 12 months we are rolling out that plan and unless we do this we will be left
behind by the rest of the world. I want every kid in Campbelltown to be better
educated, better trained and better skilled than any other kid in a comparable country
anywhere else in the world. That’s the mission. (Applause.) The tall fellow there with
his hand up, yes that’s you.

Question 9: Hi, my name’s Ben. My question is to the Minister for Health. Because
of the previous government who neglected health is there any way of probably putting
pressure off the State Government regarding to health because the State Government
today has a very big State Budget and has gone over half a percentage in NSW. Is
there any way of …

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:           I think we’ve got it.
Nicola, over to you.

Nicola Roxon, Minister for Health and Ageing: Thank you very much. Well you
certainly were right in identifying that there’s been a lot of pressure in the health
system and one of the legacies that we are dealing with and rebuilding piece by piece
is the fact that the previous Howard government did want to wash its hands of the
State Public Health system even though we know that you rely on public hospitals,
you rely on many services that the States have to provide so we have been making
immediate investments, we’ve made decisions that we will directly put money into
the system, for example, in elective surgery, so that we can help the States, but make
sure they deliver more as well so for example the money that we put in for elective
surgery, NSW exceeded its target, more than 10,000 extra, procedures - hips and
cataract surgery and others - were done because of money that we put in at the
Commonwealth level. Now that doesn’t fix everyone’s problems, but it’s just an
example of how we can invest more and demand improvements in the system at the
same time.

Again late last year that COAG meeting, the deal that was reached between the
Commonwealth and the States put $64 extra billion into the health system. NSW gets
about a third of that money, several billion dollars more than the previous government
had set aside to put into the health system and what we’re trying to do is not just
invest more and hand the money over, but invest more and drive reforms and changes
that are needed to the system. We think we can help by working with the States and
Territories. We know that they are under a lot of pressure and some of that we will do
directly by investing in areas where we haven’t before like dental care that we’ve
been trying to fix. Unfortunately the Senate’s stopping us doing some of that at the
moment, but we will keep working on those issues. So our whole strategy has been
‘don’t pretend you can blame someone else’, ‘work together’, ‘invest more, but
demand accountabilities that go with it’ so we will push the States and Territories to
improve, but we’re prepared to put some funding in to help make that happen.

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:           This lady here. Yes.
Thank you. Just coming up behind you, madam.

Question 10: I just want to say that South West Sydney consists of seven LGAs –
Fairfield, Liverpool, Bankstown, Wollindilly, Wingecarribee, Camden and
Campbelltown – and within this region …

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:           Do you win trivial pursuit
competitions …?

Question 10: (Laughter.) And within these regions in our recent report we know that
11 per cent of this population is actually … it forms 11 per cent of the State
population with 22 per cent of this population within the south west is actually from
CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) background and I manage the carers
respite centre and Carelink Centre at the South West Sydney area and so, that being
the case, I was just wondering is it possible we could have this kind of forum for the
Fairfield, Liverpool, Bankstown area and I am not sure whether you have that lined up
because it will be good for you to come down and see and have a chat with us to find
out the real issues the CALD people are facing in terms of accessing service in the
community and so it would be a great opportunity for the rest of the communities
have that voice coming through as well. And knowing that the financial crisis is
happening and a lot of issues are happening, I just want you to take note … so not to
put the carer and the recipient agenda down on to your list because of all these issues
because the needs are a whole lot more greater now and so …

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:             Okay, I think I’ve got
you. Two quick questions you raise. One, is what do we do to make sure services are
provided to Australians irrespective of where they have come from and in languages
and cultural settings which actually make it work for people. We are a nation of
immigrants apart from our respected indigenous Australians and as a result we owe it
to everyone who comes to share this country with us to make our services available to
those more newly arrived, more recently arrived. On the particular needs of the local
authority areas, all seven of them that you referred to, Senator Evans, leader of the
government in the Senate and Minister for Immigration, I will ask you to tackle him
straight after the meeting. He’s a Rugby prop forward. (Laughter.)

On the second point you raised which is about how we manage to continue our
national reform agenda as a government and as a country in the midst of a global
financial crisis. This is a tough challenge for us all, but what I want to say to you all
as a community tonight and to the country as well is that we have a strategy, an
economic strategy to see Australia through this crisis and we will come through this
crisis and we’ll come through it stronger than we were before. It will be tough, it will
be hard, there’ll be bumps on the road, but we are going to get through.

The second thing is this. That in doing that we intend to continue to implement our
long-term reform agenda for the country. That means the education revolution. That
means the proper reform of our health and hospital system. That means closing the
gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. That means introducing a
lower carbon economy through the introduction of a carbon pollution reduction
scheme. That means acting on these outstanding challenges which have been around
for a long time. What we’re committed to doing as a government through our plan for
the future is to deal with both these immediate and long-term challenges for our
country and not to just let them fall off the radar. Now Emilia up the front who’s very
patient and how old are you, sweetheart? She’s 11 years old and I always worry about
this because when you ask an 11 year old to ask a question, it’s usually a killer
question. If it’s really hard and you’re young, I usually ask Julia to answer it for me.

Question 11: Given the obvious shortcomings of various State governments
(laughter and applause) will the Federal government …

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:            You’re doing well so far,

Question 11: Will the Federal Government consider taking a greater control of State
responsibilities such as schools, hospitals and regional planning? (Applause.)

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:              I knew it, I knew it, I
knew it. It’s a really good question. Let me go to the one big area which you open up
there which is in the newspapers the last couple of days which is about health and
hospitals and it’s already been a subject of a question from a gentleman up the back as
well. The key thing for us is to make sure that the health and hospital system of
Australia is as efficient and as effective as possible in meeting the needs of all
Australians across the entire continent, whether they live in rich areas, poor areas,
country areas, city areas and whatever the make-up of the local population. We have a
responsibility to everybody.

Secondly, in taking that as our principle, what then do we have to do to make sure that
every part of the system is working effectively and talking to each other. One of the
areas is preventative health care. How do we make sure that we do something about
this explosion in chronic diseases around the country? Because if you don’t, not only
is it bad for the community, it’s terrible for the health budget later on. The cost of
treating people with avoidable chronic diseases is huge. Preventing those diseases
through attention to diet and to exercise and other preventative strategies early on is
critical. But you know something, right now in our system of government, who is
responsible for that? Well it’s a bit of a mess to be quite honest. Secondly, you then
go to what is primary health care which is ‘how do you actually get to the first point
of the health care system through dealing with your local GP and what services do
they provide in order to make sure that they are dealing with everything that they can
deal with and they don’t just drop into the front door of the accident and emergency at
your local hospital who are dealing with acute cases.

Well the problem in our system of government is that by and large all the funding for
primary health care, a large slice of it through the Medicare system and GPs, is
Federally run, and the States run the acute care system. They don’t talk to each other
effectively. Then you go to the acute care system, the hospitals themselves, which are
in the news a lot, and you’ve got a historical problem which is the previous Australian
Government withdrew a whole lot of Federal funding from the public hospital system
of Australia, that’s part of the problem, but the other part of the problem is that you
have folk who are in acute care hospital beds who should be in aged care facilities and
the problem is the Federal Government historically has looked after aged care
facilities and not the State and so they don’t talk to each other effectively as well or
they haven’t historically. So what problem does that create. You have a lot of people
staying on in acute hospital beds who should be in aged care beds, but the two levels
of government don’t have an interest in that because one bears one cost, one bears the
other. So why has Nicola, the Health Minister, commissioned this health and hospital
reform commission to produce a set of ideas for the community to discuss and debate
about the future and those of you who have been in the newspaper in the last day or
two is so that we have the best set of choices possible for the nation for how we and
the States fix this for the future and that’s what we’re in the middle of at the moment.

What Nicola said before was the measures we took last year to deal with, let’s call it
the current funding agreement between Canberra and the States and Territories, and
there’s been a huge boost in the amount of money we’re investing and a huge new set
of conditions and what we expect the States and Territories to do in making use of
that funding, but that’s now. We’ve got a plan for the next 25 years as well and that’s
where this special report, of which you’ve seen the first part of it in the papers in the
last few days, is going to be so critical in determining what will be the deal between
Canberra and the States in each of the areas I’ve just referred to for the next 25 years.
We’ve got to get it right for the people who live in Campbelltown, we’ve got to get it
right for the national taxpayer, we’ve got to get it right for the next generation of
Australians. The lady in blue in the middle. I think you need a microphone. I’m
getting my wind-up notice here.

Question 12: My name’s Veryan McAllister. I have a condition called polycystic
ovarian syndrome. Now this affects one in ten women approximately in Australia and
Prime Minister you’ve been talking about directly impacting preventable diseases and
putting in measures, by putting in national guidelines for GPs in the treatment of
PCOS that will directly impact obesity, it will directly impact the money spent in the
medical system because it takes on average most women three to four GP visits,
different ones, to get a correct diagnosis because there’s no national guidelines in
place. That’s all we’re asking is national guidelines so that we get correct diagnosis
and treatment from day 1. My friend here, she didn’t get the correct treatment after
diagnosis and has ended up being type 2 diabetic. That didn’t need to happen. It could
have been prevented and I’m talking about 200,000 women that you can impact
straight away with simple direct measures by telling the GPs ‘these are the guidelines,
this is the treatment for women with PCOS’.

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:            Thank you for your
contribution. Can I ask Nicola to respond directly to your question.

Nicola Roxon, Minister for Health and Ageing: Yes, thank you very much and
it’s a good question to raise because it’s one of those conditions that so many women
suffer from, but very few people know anything about. I was one of those people until
a former staff member of mine had this condition diagnosed and she made it
extremely plain to me, you’ll be pleased to know that the lack of guidelines and the
problems that that is causing. Obviously we’ve got to be sympathetic for GPs trying
to be across so many different conditions. My understanding, but I will ask one of my
staff who’s here to make sure we get your details, is that the process for establishing
those guidelines has now commenced. It is a little bit slow because you need to get
the sign-off from all of the specialist colleges so everyone agrees that the guidelines
are correct. The reason I’d like your details, if that’s okay, is for us to be able to
follow up exactly where in the process the finalisation of those guidelines has got to
so I’ll ask Ruth to catch up with you if that’s okay at the end of this.

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia:             And if I could just make
sure that someone from Nicola’s office makes contact up here and make sure that
happens. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to get into all sorts of strife because I’m
currently running about 20 minutes over time so I am going to have to pull up stumps
at this point, but say to you that we now go into the next phase of our consultation this
evening which is those of you who have booked times with the individual ministers

will now have those sessions. Can I in conclusion to this public session just say to you
two things. One, thank you for coming out to talk. Here we are in the middle of the
week and you have come out in great numbers to give us your views as a local
community and I respect that and I thank you for it. The second is we are here to
engage and to listen and those things that you have put to us both in the individual
sessions you’ll have and what you’ve put to us up here. I’ve indicated there’ll be a
further response. We will respond, okay. I can’t say you’ll get exactly the answer you
want. We will however get back to you within a reasonable time frame to make sure
there is a response. Thank you for making us feel welcome here in Campbelltown.

End of transcript


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