Following his loss of the ALP leadership at a Caucus meeting on June 24, 2010, Kevin Rudd held his final press conference as Prime Minister.
Rudd delivered a tearful statement recounting the achievements of his government. He did not take questions.
Transcript of Kevin Rudd’s final press conference as Prime Minister – June 24, 2010.
I was elected by the Australian people as Prime Minister of this country to bring back a fair go for all Australians and I have given my absolute best to do that, I’ve given it my absolute all. In that spirit I am proud of the achievements that we have delivered to make this country fairer.
I’m proud of the fact that we kept Australia out of the global economic recession. I’m proud of the fact that had we not done so we would have had a half a million Australians out there out of work, because that’s what happened around the rest of the world.
I’m proud of the fact that we got rid of Workchoices and restored decency to the workplace.
I’m proud of the fact that we started to build the nation’s infrastructure including a National Broadband Network which I fundamentally believe will transform this economy in ways which we have yet to conceive, fundamentally transform our businesses and the way in which Governments operate, health services are delivered and the way in which education is delivered in our classrooms. The missing piece of 21st century kit for our country.
I’m proud of the fact that we have begun the education revolution. 300,000 extra computers in classrooms; that’s a pretty big thing for a kid in a classroom who has never seen a computer on their desk before.
I’m proud of the fact that we now have Trades Training Centres built to service every one of our nation’s secondary schools.
I’m proud of the fact that new libraries are springing up right across the country, often in schools which have never had a library before in their lives, or in some places, have never had a new building built in their schools since the War.
I’m proud of the fact that we now have nationwide early childhood education.
I’m proud of the fact that we now have a national curriculum for our schools, for every State of our nation and the Territories.
I’m proud of the fact that we now have 50,000 more university places and the fact that we have invested so much more in our universities, in our research.
I’m really proud of the fact that we’ve reformed the health system; a National Health and Hospitals network. When we look back on this in a decade’s time, and the fact that we’ve made the Australian Government, for the first time in our history, the dominant funder of our nation’s public hospital system. This will be seen as a very, very deep reform.
I’m proud of the fact that we are building 20 regional cancer centres right across our country. You know if you go out there and people are suffering from cancer, it does alter your priorities. Many of those folk have never had decent cancers services before, never, and I was always stunned by the fact that people out there are three times more likely to die in the first years of their diagnosis through the lack of services. We’ve done something to change that, and it’s big. It’s the biggest investment in cancer services our nation has ever seen.
I’m proud of the fact, and some people have probably never heard of this one, that we have a National Organ Transplant Authority. As somebody who borrowed someone else’s aortic valve I feel a particular responsibility for that. There’s nothing like having a bit of somebody else in you, it focuses the mind and in my case also focuses the heart. What I’m really pleased about in the last two months is the organ donation rates for the first time have started to rise. People now are getting transplants because we chose to make a difference.
That’s the funny thing about health isn’t it, has an effect on you.
I’m proud of the fact that we’ve restored decency to the aged pension, it’s pretty important, making sure that people on the aged pension have some capacity for human dignity. An extra $100 is the biggest increase in the pension’s history.
I’m proud of the fact that we now have paid parental leave, it’s been a long time coming.
I’m proud of what we’ve done on homelessness. I’m proud of the fact that we’re on track to halve homelessness in this country through work like common ground in which Therese is directly involved.
I’m proud of the fact that we’re adding 20,000 additional units of social housing. I can’t stand it when you go to places and there is literally no place at the inn.
I’m proud of the fact that the first thing we did in Government was ratify the Kyoto protocol. I’m also proud of the fact that we boosted the renewable energy target to 20 per cent. I’m proud of the fact that we tried three times to get an emissions trading scheme through this parliament, although we failed. And, if I had one point of future policy it must be our ambition to pass a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme within this parliament, the one that follows, I mean, so that we can make a difference, a real difference, to climate change.
I’m proud of the fact that we now have, for the first time in the country’s history, a Murray-Darling Basin Authority, and for the first time in our history a basin-wide plan and a basin-wide cap on water.
Also proud of the fact that on the global stage Australia is now at the table of the G20. This is big for the country. When we look back on that in 10 years’ time, having a place at the table when stuff goes wrong around the world is pretty useful. We lobbied hard and long for that. It is a good achievement for Australia for the future.
I’m proud of the fact that we are closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Little things and big things: putting hundreds of Indigenous kids with scholarships into our nation’s leading boarding schools; backing such things as the Clontarf Academy, now 22 of them we fund around the nation, to get kids to school and boost their attendance by providing AFL training. I’m proud of the fact that we’re behind a commitment to create 50,000 additional jobs for Indigenous Australians with the private sector, and I’m most proud of the fact that about here, we greeted the stolen generations.
As Therese reminded me, that was a big day. What I remember most about it, for those of you who weren’t here, was as the stolen generations came in from over there, they were frightened. Our job was to make them welcome.
The Apology was unfinished business for our nation. It is the beginning of new business for our nation.
What I’m less proud of is the fact that I have now blubbered.
I hope I’ve been able to demonstrate to you that this has been a very busy two and a half years. We have thrown our absolute all at this and I believe when we look back at this these reforms will endure into the future and make Australia, I believe, a fairer and better place than it would otherwise have been.
And all that’s before I get to the thank yous.
First and foremost, I thank the Australian people for putting their trust in me. It is a high honour to be elected as Prime Minister of Australia and to the people of Australia I say thank you.
To the members of the Australian Labor Party who put their trust in me, I say thank you. This is a Party and a movement of which I’ve been a member for the last quarter of a century, and I believe for the next quarter of a century.
I thank the members of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, good women and men, each one of them – each one of them – committed to bringing about a fairer and better Australia in a cause which now goes back 120 years.
I’d like to thank the members of the ministry and the cabinet. I could not have had a better team. These are head and shoulders above those who oppose them in the parliament – each and every one of them. You could go through the list. I’ve been blessed and aided by the fact that they have given every ounce of their intelligence and every ounce of their energy, every ounce of their ability, to delivering the reforms, and many others besides that I’ve just referred to.
I thank the good people of Griffith in Brisbane, my electorate, for putting up with me as their local member – recently, somewhat missing in action. They are good people. It is a great community. I love it and I love them dearly.
I thank my staff. They come in for the occasional mention in despatches. Alister Jordan, my Chief of Staff, an extraordinary young man. 31 years old, with the bearing of a 70 year old, part of the product of having worked for me for so long. A first class human being and a good man. I will not list the other members of my staff. That’s probably for a private occasion. But given that you good members of the fourth estate are here, I should mention Lachlan Harris, and Fiona Sugden, and Maggie. They engaged with you on a daily basis, at times when it’s good fun, and at times when it’s less so. I think they’re a fantastic team.
My policy team, I won’t go through. Each and every member of my staff have given their absolute best to the cause of this Australian Government. To my electorate staff in Brisbane, Gina Tilley and her team. Imagine being a Prime Minister with a seat Brisbane, with everyone rolling into your electorate office, holding them personally accountable for everything I have done here. Let’s bear a thought for them. They are wonderful people.
I thank my family, Therese, that’s Jess, that’s Nick, and the curly headed one with the good looks after his mother is Marcus. They are wonderful human beings. And, of course, my wider family as well.
It is probably not the occasion for high statements of theology, but I’m sure you’d be disappointed if I didn’t add something, given it’s been the subject of comment over the years in which I’ve led this party. But to the great God and creator of us all, I thank him- or her- as well.
Now, for the future. I will be dedicating my every effort to ensure the re-election of this Australian Labor Government. It is a good Government with a good program, and it deserves re-election for all the reasons I have listed before, and many more besides. And they are a good team, led by a good Prime Minister. I mean Julia, not me, because I’m still the Prime Minister, I think, for another quarter of an hour, so watch out because we can do things. Have you ever thought about this? I’m now not the leader of the Labor Party but I’m the Prime Minister. Anything could happen folks.
As for serving the Government in the future, I will of course serve it in any manner in which I can be of assistance. I will be re-contesting the next election in the seat of Griffith. And I hope the good burghers of Griffith are understanding of my absence in recent times. Having said all of those things, what have I missed out? Therese?
She’s always more succinct than me. And much better looking. The work Therese has done in the community is formidable. And whether it’s disabilities, homelessness, UNICEF. This is a very good person. A very, very good person and one of life’s eternal mysteries is why she ever married me in the first place. She is a very good person, as are these fantastic kids of mine.
And having said all that folks, we’ve got to zip.