Victorious Gillard Says Democracy Works

A beaming Julia Gillard, flanked by her grinning deputy, Wayne Swan, has expressed her desire to get on with the job now that the rural independents have supported her leadership of a minority Labor government.

Julia Gillard

Gillard and Swan appeared before the media at 4.40pm, one hour after the independents announced their decision.

  • Listen to Gillard-Swan press conference (36m)

Transcript of joint press conference with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan.

Julia Gillard & Wayne Swan

GILLARD: Thank you Mathew Franklin for joining us, and thank you very much to everybody. Obviously, I’m joined by the Deputy Prime Minister, Wayne Swan.

Can I say we live in a lively and a resilient democracy – and it works. We have democratic institutions and conventions that work well at the most important times when they’re put to the test by the Australian people at an election.

The events of the past fortnight show us unequivocally that our democracy is very, very strong indeed.

With today’s agreement with the independent Members of Parliament, with Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor, and with the previous agreements reached with the Greens and of course with Mr Wilkie, Labor is prepared to govern. Labor is prepared to deliver stable, effective and secure government for the next three years. Ours will be a government with just one purpose, and that’s to serve the Australian people.

The election two weeks ago was the closest in modern memory. What the Australian people told us, and they told us this in no uncertain terms on that day and on the days that have followed, is this: that we will be held more accountable than ever before, and more than any government in modern memory. We will be held to higher standards of transparency and reform, and it’s in that spirit that I approach the task of forming a government.

The discussions and the negotiations Wayne and I had with Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor, Bob Katter, Andrew Wilkie, with Bob Brown and Adam Bandt on behalf of the Greens, have been marked by openness, candour and diligence in working through the issues. The Independents, the Greens, they have been business-like throughout and I thank them for the substance, tone and tenor of our discussions, and can I particularly say to Mr Bob Katter, though of course he made another decision, that I thank him for the tone and tenor of our discussions.

In remarkable times there’s opportunity. Indeed, this process, born of parliamentary deadlock, has resulted in more openness, transparency and reform in how we conduct our Parliament and the business of government than at any other time on modern Australian politics.

Throughout this process of forming a new government we’ve been open with the Australian people. To quote Rob Oakeshott, sunshine is the best disinfectant, and we’ve agreed to far-reaching reforms that make me as Prime Minister and our government and how it functions more accountable to the Australian people. So, let’s draw back the curtains and let the sun shine in; let our parliament be more open than it ever was before. That’s real reform, and that’s the direct result of the election.

We need to govern, and we will govern, in the best interests of the Australian people, and I know that if we fail in this solemn responsibility we will be judged harshly when we next face the Australian people at the next election, and being held to that test is just the way I want it.

My government will be true to our principles and our beliefs, but we will be pragmatic as well in developing effective policies and programs on the major issues that we face.

We are governing with a majority of 76. We are prepared to go forward to serve the Australian people.

At the same time, I want to say to Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party, and I want to say to Warren Truss and the National Party, the following: I believe the Australian people, given the closeness of this vote, want us to find more common ground in the national interest. Accordingly, I pledge today my best efforts as Prime Minister to work constructively with you and your colleagues to find common ground where we can. I extend my hand to work with you in good faith and in the interests of the Australian people, and I acknowledge that Tony Abbott phoned me a short time ago to wish me well. I thank him for the simple courtesy and decency that making such a call shows. It can’t have been easy for him and I genuinely thank him for that.

I begin this task more optimistic and more confident than ever before in the Australian people and our hopes and our aspirations, and I say once again as I’ve said many times before – the best days of this country are in front of it, not behind it, and that’s the best days for every part of our nation.

We’ve weathered the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Our economy is the envy of the world. We have an opportunity to improve health services, invest in education, build the National Broadband Network, make progress on global warming and the environment, deepen our security relationship with our allies, be a leader in this region and build Australia’s enduring prosperity and well-being.

I will work tirelessly to do what we said we would do, and that is of course to forge a new paradigm of modern government in this country; to deliver for regional Australia, recognising that in our nation one size does not fit all; to redeem the hope you have placed in me and Labor; and to be faithful to the trust that has been extended to us.

So, in that spirit, I say thank you. I will always be working for the future, for this nation’s future, and I pledge that from me to the Australian people.

I understand, of course, that there will interest in the arrangements that we have reached today with Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor. They came and they asked us for fairness for regional Australia and we were happy to work through with them to achieve that fairness, so today I confirm that the next round of health and hospitals funding will be focussed and dedicated to regional Australia. So will the next round of funding from the Education Investment Fund.

We will make sure that regional Australia gets its fair share of our upgrade of primary care facilities from which doctors work; of our critical skills investment fund; of our new reward payments for schools and our new funding for local school control. We will also ensure that the National Broadband Network offers the benefit of uniform wholesale prices to end the difficulties with telecommunications and difference in price for regional Australia, and we will ensure that priority is given to regional Australia as the NBN is built.

We will also dedicate $800 million to a priority regional infrastructure program and we will ensure that $573 million of the regional infrastructure fund works with the regional development authorities around the country to respond to local needs.

Of course, these commitments come on top of our general commitment to the almost $6 billion Regional Infrastructure Fund, the tele-health measures I outlined in the campaign, and our Building Better Regional Cities measures outlined in the campaign.

In total, this means for regional Australia they can look forward to benefits in the order of $9.9 billion, but that’s a fair share. It’s been worked through with Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor, and I thank them for working through that with me and of course with Wayne Swan.

Can I conclude by saying now, with this matter resolved, I intend today to meet with the Governor General and to present to her the agreements which indicate that I have the support of 76 votes in the House of Representatives. I will then move through to create the new government.

I want this to be a time where we are focussed on securing the future of our country for all Australians. This is a fantastic place; a place of opportunity, of freedom, of hopes fulfilled. It’s truly a country where you can achieve your dreams. I’ve always believed that, and everything about that process has re-affirmed that belief in me.

Thank you very much.

JOURNALIST: Did you offer Rob Oakeshott a Ministry and/or the position of Speaker?

GILLARD: I’ve certainly spoken to Mr Oakeshott as to whether he would be interested in serving in an executive capacity. He is considering that. Obviously, that’s an unusual arrangement. He’s also a man with a very young family and a new baby on the way, so he will consider that.

JOURNALIST: What job did you offer him?

GILLARD: Look, I’ve said to him that if he wanted to serve to help drive these reforms for regional Australia that I would be open to that discussion. He needs to consider that.

JOURNALIST: Ms Gillard, you have just avoided becoming what I think would be the shortest-serving Labor Prime Minister in the nation’s history – I could be wrong about that – but what will, now that you’ve got a second chance, how will you be different from your approach previously, and what changes in mindset does your Party need to make about the way it approaches being the Party of government?

GILLARD: Well, on a historic day, thank you for that optimism and confidence for the future, and on an historic day, let me just say about that optimism and confidence in the future I’ve said to you, I’ve said to you during the election campaign and I’ve said to you in the days since, certainly, I’ve learnt some lessons and I believe the Government’s learnt some lessons from the three years that have been.

I also believe that the Australian people have sent us a message in this election campaign. I’ve heard that message. I believe the parliament’s heard that message, and what they are asking us to do is not to become waylaid in partisan bickering but to build for the future, and that’s exactly what I’ve outlined to you today and I thank the Independents in these discussions, and the Greens Party, for also sitting down to work through how we can, with optimism and confidence, build for that future, and I would extend that as well to Bob Katter, even though he came to a different decision. He took a very diligent and thoughtful approach.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

GILLARD: Andrew.

JOURNALIST: Pardon me for being parochial, but there does seem to be some remarkable similarities with the royalties for regions agreement that was reached between the Nationals and the Liberal Party in WA. How can you deliver $10 billion if the mining tax is to be reviewed?

GILLARD: Well look I’ll turn to Wayne Swan for that, but can I just say when you look at all of the figuring here you will see of course that we are referring, in part, to the $6 billion of money that will flow for infrastructure, two billion of it for Western Australia, from the Minerals Resource Rent Tax, but you will see that the arrangements here are for around half a billion dollars of that money to specifically able to be allocated with the advice and assistance of regional development authorities. But I’ll also turn to Wayne.

SWAN: The Regional Infrastructure Fund is something that we put in place earlier in the year, before any of these events unfolded, and we put it there for very good reasons. The need to invest the bounty of the country, particularly in regions in this country, which were producing so much of our wealth. So we put this in place, well before now, it’s been noticed because of changed circumstances, but I sat in a room with all of you when we launched the Henry report and talked about how we needed to respond to the challenges of mining boom mark two, and the Regional Infrastructure Fund is a very, very important part of all of that. But I just wanted to also partially answer Matthew’s question before because I think the Prime Minister was being somewhat modest. I mean I think what you’re seeing here is the success of her consensus building style, she’s very good at bringing people together and I think we see the outcome of that today.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

GILLARD: I’ll go to Kieran and come back, yes.

JOURNALIST: What do you say to people in, hospitals, shoddy hospitals in suburban Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane about the fact that the next round of this hospital and health fund is purely for regions, when clearly, the infrastructure in city areas is not up to scratch?

GILLARD: Well look I think that’s a good question and one of the, I will answer your question but I just want to make a general point before I do so. Inevitably, inevitably, a lot of focus will go on what the political parties have talked to the Independents about since election day. But really, in assessing what we are doing for Australians, including regional Australians, you need to look at everything we promised at the election, which goes to Andrew’s question, where we already were with $6 billion of investment for regions that obviously generate mining wealth but also feel the stresses and strains that mining can bring. There was already there in our election policy offer, and then what we’ve built on it since. And the same applies to health care. Of course the focus is going to come on what we’ve talked the Independents about, I accept that, it’s inevitable, but I would say to Australians too, look at our health policy offer, look at the billions of dollars of new health capital that has already been delivered, already committed, already making a difference in hospitals right around the country including of course, in capital city Australia. Look at the new health agreement with the Federal Government, stepping up to 60 per cent of the ongoing responsibility of hospital costs, capital and recurrent, right around Australia. Look at where we’ve stepped up to provide GP Superclinics, to invest in primary care in capital cities as well as in regions around Australia. Look at the difference that our new health care training packages will mean with new doctors, new nurses, going to work everywhere in metropolitan Australia as well as in regional Australia. So I ask, Australians in capital cities, to understand that what is in this agreement builds on a huge suite of changes to get our health care system ready for the 21st century.

JOURNALIST: Ms Gillard did you offer all of the Independents you were dealing with, including Mr Wilkie and also not so much an independent but the Green’s new MP, ministries as well or did you just choose to offer that to Mr Oakeshott?

GILLARD: The answer to your question is no I did not. I have had a discussion with Mr Oakeshott, who obviously is passionate not only about entering into an agreement about regional Australia but also seeing it delivered day by day. One way of doing that is in the Parliament, as an Independent, participating on the new committee we will set up for regional Australia. Pressing us with the new resources and new energy that this process has driven into our Parliament, to keep delivering day after day, that’s one way of doing it. Another way of doing it, of course, is to determine that you will, at least for some purposes, serve in executive Government. That’s an offer that is there, it’s there for Mr Oakeshott to consider.

JOURNALIST: So he was the only one?

GILLARD: Yes he was.

JOURNALIST: In terms of this message you’ve heard about what the Australian people want and how they want the two parties to work together. The Treasurer graciously said you were very good at bringing people together, you’re also in the past clearly one of Labor’s most effective attack agents in the Parliament. Are you going to change your tone in the Parliament, are we going to have a gentler, kinder Parliament?

GILLARD: Look I think these reforms are going to mean that executive Government, the Government, is going to be held to greater account than ever before. Now I’m not naive about political processes, and I think Australians want us to have a hard contest when there are real differences. So you should expect to hear me continue to have a hard contest about real differences like our approaches to workplace relations. But I also think the Australian people have sent us a message about needless partisanship, not wanting to see bickering and imaginary contests and I’ve heard that message. If you look at, and to give one example of that, we spent a lot of time in this building in the last Parliament arguing about climate change. I would hope, through the new climate change committee I’ve created through this process, with the resources of a Cabinet committee, open to multi-party players who want to work through to address climate change, that we might find a new way of building consensus on what has been an issue in which consensus in this building ended and ended very quickly and dramatically.

Yes.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister when do you expect to finalise your Ministry and are you anticipating major changes?

GILLARD: Look we will work through this in coming days, obviously as Labor Party leader this is my prerogative but I intend to work with Wayne Swan and with my leadership team, with Chris Evans and Stephen Conroy, to have the discussions to form the new Ministerial team. I’d be looking forward to doing that, swearing new Ministers in the early days of next week, but obviously some of this is also about the convenience of the Governor-General.

Phil Coorey.

JOURNALIST: Ms Gillard, longevity was one of the reasons the Independents opted for Labor, they thought you would go full term. Have you given them a date, as you set it out, so that this process for the next election in three years and in the interests in stability, if Kevin Rudd wants Foreign Affairs is it his to have?

GILLARD: Well obviously for the Ministry we will work through our own processes and make our own arrangements. I gave Kevin Rudd a commitment that he would be a senior member of my Ministerial team, a Cabinet Minister, and he will be. On the question of the date of the next election, in the agreement that I have signed with Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor, I have indicated that I would work with them to agree when the next election will be, I will be hoping that we can make that date transparent well in advance of it coming on.

Malcolm Farr.

JOURNALIST: When did you know you had those two votes that you just mentioned, who were you with and what did you do?

GILLARD: I knew when you did, I watched the media conference with Wayne Swan, with a number of my other Ministerial colleagues, with quite a few anxious Labor Party friends and staff members.

JOURNALIST: And what did you do?

GILLARD: I sat and watched Fran, I sat and watched.

JOURNALIST:Prime Minister is it your intention to recall Parliament as soon as possible to validate the arrangements announced today?

GILLARD: Look I’ve asked Anthony Albanese, who was obviously serving as Leader of Government Business, and has been involved in the negotiations about Parliamentary reform. I’ve asked him as soon as we move in this period out of caretaker, which we will once I’ve seen Governor-General, to get some advice for us about Parliamentary dates. There are, as I understand it, some questions about the timing of declarations and other things that I need to take into account. Obviously my intention would be to have to have the Parliament come together in a reasonable period of time, but I can’t now, without the benefit of that advice, give you a greater specific date.

Yes.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) about the document that you put out. The $10 billion in spending that’s now earmarked for the regions, that’s not contained in this document because obviously it deals with some of the new spending. So basically you’re saying that in terms of the Health and Hospitals Fund, in terms of some of these education funds, that any new spending for the four years under those health and hospital fund, or under the education, is earmarked for regional areas, the $1.8 billion that can only go to regional hospitals?

GILLARD: Ok I’ll just clarify that for you and then turn to Wayne. The amount of money in the Health and Hospitals Fund is $1.8 billion. We will open up around, it will be around that, is for regional Australia, it will also of course deal with the question for Tasmania and that was understood between me and the Independents. We will work through, the Health and Hospitals Fund, will then asses applications against their criteria, it is only quality applications that will receive the tick. So we are not saying that, necessarily, the whole of the $1.8 billion will be expended, that will be a function of the quality of the applications. But $1.8 billion is available.

There will be a round for the Education Investment Fund of $500 million.

The importance of the document you have in your hand is it shows our determination to make sure that any new spending is offset by savings. Obviously there is some new money that we have made available through the priority regional investment fund, and consequently we will and indeed have, on the document in front of you, identified and offsetting saving. We are continuing to acquit our Budget rule, there’s been no more important issue in recent days than the question of Budget responsibility and Budget costings, where it was clear to the Australian people that what we said during the election campaign is what we meant and what we honoured. Obviously for the Coalition there was an $11 billion problem, but I’ll turn to Wayne Swan just on the-

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) from the tax discount on interest (inaudible) do you regard that as a election promise broken or deferred?

GILLARD: No that was a entry in our last Budget, it’s not a election commitment, and there is a delay, that’s true, of 12 months, there is an alignment with the roll-out of that now with the tick and flick tax return. So I’ll turn to Wayne on that.

SWAN: Well we’re saving 700 million there, it is a deferral and that just underscores our determination to make sure that we stay within our fiscal rules. So our net save over the forwards is $43 million. So we’ve funded all of our commitments and the Prime Minister has run through the rest of them.

JOURNALIST: And what about the suggestion that he would’ve voted a different way if Kevin Rudd was still around? Would you think that (inaudible)-

GILLARD: Oh look, I think obviously Mr Katter can make decisions as he sees fit. As I understand it, there were a range of things on his mind. I can’t say I was able to listen to all of his media conference. I did have some other obligations as Prime Minister. But I understand from the sections I heard the question of carbon pricing, you know, climate change, Mr Katter has a different view from me for example about climate change and the need, ultimately, to price carbon in this country. He’s got a different view on some other questions that he went through. But I would say, you know, I had an opportunity to really sit and talk with Bob Katter and to work through a series of issues in very good faith and good spirit and I’d look forward to that continuing.

Just go over here and then come back there.

JOURNALIST: Which issues do you want the tax summit to tackle?

GILLARD: Right, well, as you would see, I’m trying to save Wayne’s voice, but we’ll also go to Wayne as well. Okay, you go.

SWAN: Well, the Independents indicated they wanted a structured discussion about the recommendations of the Henry Review, and we’re delighted to engage in a structured discussion about those recommendations. We are-

JOURNALIST: And the MRRT?

SWAN: Well, that’s a commitment that we have made and we are working through that, through the Argus Committee. And we are determined to progress that through the Parliament. But on the more, the broader question, what we’ve committed to, what we’ve ruled out, and what remains in terms of the Henry review, we’re happy to have a structured discussion about that. We talked about it right through the campaign. Tax cuts for small businesses for example. The cut to the corporate rate. They’re already factored into our Budget. And there are many more things that I’ve said to you before, particularly when we launched the report, that there would be debate about in this country for the years ahead. We’re happy to have that debate.

JOURNALIST: Is the fact that you have now gladly and happily agreed to a structured debate about the whole of the Henry review- but that it took this election result and this pressure from Independents to force you to it-

SWAN: No.

JOURNALIST: What does that say about-

SWAN: I don’t agree with that point.

JOURNALIST: Is the approach that you were taking prior to the election when you did want to have this open and structured-

SWAN: You must have been at a different election campaign, Matthew.

JOURNALIST: No I wasn’t.

SWAN: We’ve-

GILLARD: He was on a bus for a long time.

SWAN: We’ve actually got our commitment to our Minerals Resource Rent Tax. We put forward to the Australian people a cut in the corporate rate as recommended. We put forward to the Australian people a tax cut for small business with the instant asset write-off. All of those things are commitments.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

GILLARD: No, that’s not true.

SWAN: That is just not true, and I’ll take you back to the transcript of when I launched the Government’s response to the report. I said very clearly then, as I’m saying to you today, that as we go through this term of Parliament that we are now embarking upon, there will be a wide-ranging discussion about many of the items that we didn’t rule in or rule out. And there are many of those, and we’re happy to have it.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

SWAN: Delighted to have it.

GILLARD: Yes, we’ll go here, you haven’t had a question.

JOURNALIST: I was wondering whether you shared Tony Windsor’s concern that Tony Abbott would win a snap poll if it had been held, and because supplementaries are in favour at the moment, I was just wondering if I could also ask you when you’re going to move into The Lodge?

GILLARD: On the second question, I’ve given it no thought, and I’ve got absolutely no idea. So I can’t help you with that. On the, on the first question, no I do not. But that’s not what’s relevant. What I believe is relevant is that the Australian people were looking for stable and effective Government. And we have spent these days working through, step by step, piece by piece, discussion by discussion, to deliver just that, and the outcome we have reached is an agreement for stable and effective Government.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, I’m just wondering- Rob Oakeshott said that he wants a swear jar put in place so that if you or any other member of the Government tries to use the word mandate as a- in any conversation, what would you describe your power now as Prime Minister of Australia if it’s not a mandate?

GILLARD: Look, I’m not sure I’m going to agree with Rob Oakeshott on that. Maybe, you know, swear jars will be in fashion for a whole variety of reasons. I’m not sure. And I agree with the Treasurer that perhaps in the lead-up to the Press Gallery Ball one in the Press Gallery could make a lot of money. But what I would say is there’s no walking away, no attempt to in some way, you know, not understand the message from the result in the election. I understand that. I understand that the Australian people have sent me, sent the Labor Party, sent this Parliament a message, heard that message loud and clear. Now, obviously, we went to the Australian people and we made a set of commitments. And I will be doing everything I can to deliver on those commitments, but I also recognise-

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

GILLARD: But I also recognise this, I recognise I will be seeking to deliver those commitments in a Parliament where I cannot automatically assume support for the Government’s legislation in the lower House or the upper House. Now this is going to require us to have a new maturity, a new way of working together, a new spirit of openness. That’s what I have sought to do as I’ve structured these agreements, as I’ve worked through, whether it’s been with Bob Brown and Adam Bandt, whether it’s been with Andrew Wilkie, whether it’s been with Mr Oakeshott, Mr Windsor or Mr Katter. In each of those discussions, I’ve worked through for more openness, more inclusion. And then of course in the Parliamentary reform debate, we’ve worked through for more openness and more inclusion for every Member and every Senator. That is going to mean, it’s new ways of working for us. I suspect for you. New things to think about, new things to understand, new expertise required in Parliamentary procedure and practice. So it’s going to be a different world. I think the different world is an opportunity.

Yes- Phil.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you said you’re ready to govern and to get on with it. So, what- so the Australian people can get an idea of what you’re going to do- for example, by Christmas, what would you like to have achieved?

GILLARD: Well look, by Christmas, what I would’ve wanted to achieved is we will have brought the Parliament together. We will have commenced working on our legislative program. We would’ve commenced to honour every aspect of these agreements, and we would’ve commenced delivery of our election promises. I went to the election absolutely passionate about, and I am still passionate about- and a big flavour of my discussions with each and every person in the past two weeks has been my passion about a strong economy, about making sure people have got the benefits and dignity of work. You should expect to hear a lot of that. You should expect to hear a lot about the opportunity every child should have in this country for a great quality education. And I am delighted that Rob Oakeshott, as one of the most central things that he cares about, that he has pushed in these discussions has been closing the education divide between regional Australia and urban Australia, that’s a fantastic thing to have a passion about every child, every school, every place, I share that passion.

I went to the election saying let’s not be afraid of the challenges of the future. We can work together and defeat these challenges. Yes, these circumstances have laid out some new ways of doing that with climate change, with tax reform, and beyond. I think that is an opportunity.

JOURNALIST: Do you now believe that you were vindicated in getting rid of Kevin Rudd?

GILLARD: Oh look, you know, this is- I’ll allow all the political aficionados to do the, you know, what if scenarios- what, where we are now, and I think this is the important thing that matters for the Australian people- is looking to the future with a different Parliament, with a different way of working, with things that the Australian people care about absolutely passionately to be focused on and delivered.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister-

GILLARD: Yes Patricia.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) actively canvassed the Opposition to take the position of Speaker?

GILLARD: Well look, I’m obviously, you know, we’ve got the new Parliamentary reforms. We say we want in those reforms more independence in the Speaker. You know, I am not aware of anybody from the Opposition who was interested in that position. But, you know, these are things that may become clearer in coming days. So I don’t have a closed mind Patricia, but you’ll have to excuse me if my focus in the last few days has not been on that question, but on the question of dealing with the Independents.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what are your priorities as to conversations with world leaders that you might not have got to before you entered caretaker period, people you need to introduce yourself to?

GILLARD: Well look, you would expect that to be all of the normal range of priorities for an Australian leader. No mystery about our foreign policy settings, about our foreign policy settings in terms of the depth of our relationship with America, our long-standing alliance. I did have the opportunity to have a conversation with President Obama before the election commenced. Obviously, I would look forward to future conversations.

I’ve actually, whilst we’ve been in caretaker, been in contact with the Prime Minister of New Zealand as they face the dreadful circumstances with the earthquake and of course the loss of life in the plane crash.

You should expect me to do the regional calls, the important calls in our region that matter for this country.

JOURNALIST: On broadband, Prime Minister, I note that you are going to prioritise regional areas. How much of a change will that be from what was already planned under the NBN, and consequently, in the next three years how much of regional Australia will be connected up to optic fibre?

GILLARD: Well, obviously we will be working through with NBN Co to do this priority roll out in regional Australia, so we will need to take the time to do that working with NBN before I can, you know, give you a figure, and as you would be aware from some discussions we had in the election campaign, there are some commercial-in-confidence questions here, but what we are saying in this agreement with the Independents is that we want that to be a priority, the roll out in regional Australia, and of course we want there to be the same wholesale price and, you know, I really think people should just take a moment to have the force and significance of this settle in to their minds.

I mean, in this country today, if you want to ring a business in the centre of Sydney and you’re doing it from Tamworth, that is going to cost you something different than if you are doing it from another business in Sydney, and it’s that differential in costs that has borne on businesses in regional Australia and families in regional Australia ever since we had the telephone.

Now, what will happen with broadband is the wholesale price will be the same, so whether on the broadband in Tamworth or on the broadband in CBD Sydney seeking to communicate with another business in CBD Sydney, the wholesale price for your broadband will be the same. What a transformation, to equalise the cost of telecommunications across this country – what a transformation.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, a quick follow up on that, because that’s achieved through a cross-subsidy, doesn’t that mean people in the city would pay more in order to subsidise the services that the people in country get? Is that the way it’s got to be?

GILLARD: Well, look, what it means, of course, is that every Australian is going to be able to get access to the same wholesale price in competitive broadband. That is an opportunity for economic advancement and development right around the nation unparalleled since the days that people were talking about building railroads.

We just have to make, I do have an appointment with the Governor-General, so you will have to excuse me if I put some priority on that. We will take the last question from Phil Coorey.

JOURNALIST: Just in the time you’ve been speaking, the Nationals have put out two press releases, they’ve coined a term for it, a pejorative term, I assume, the rainbow Coalition, for your new government, and they’re saying with the Greens and so forth you’re going to destroy jobs across the regions, etcetera. Is the era of, kind and gentle era over already?

GILLARD: Look, I’ll have a look at those press releases and I suppose the challenge is, for some, is whether or not they’ll be in tomorrow’s headlines or they’ll be analysed.

Thanks very much.

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