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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts

Prime Minister's Literary Awards; Senate Inquiry into the Home Insulation Program; Prime Minister Gillard; climate change; water and population growth

E&OE Transcript
Doorstop Interview
Announcement of the shortlists for the Prime Minister's Literary Award
Readings Bookshop, Carlton Victoria
15 July 2010

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GARRETT: Good morning. Look, it is terrific to be at Readings Bookshop here in Carlton to announce the shortlist for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and to know that the judges think that this is the best crop of work that they have seen yet. This is Peter Pierce’s judgement, that it was a very outstanding collection of work.

And to recognise that we have a vibrant, healthy and extremely exciting literary sector. The fact the we have marvellous new talent coming through for nominations as well as some of our finest established writers, I just think shows the extraordinary breath of Australia’s literary health. And importantly to know that these awards fulfil a really important function. Not only do they highlight and spotlight our great writers and our up and coming great writers, but they also provide additional opportunities for our industry to promote and to sell that work on, so that we can have a healthy industry in the longer term.

JOURNALIST: Minister, can I digress? A Senate Committee has just called for a Royal Commission into the disastrous insulation scheme. What is your reaction?

GARRETT: This is a political exercise by the Opposition. There is nothing new that has come through in this recommendation that hasn’t already been comprehensively addressed by the Government. And I am absolutely confident that the measures that have been put in place satisfactorily deal with the issues that have been raised previously.

JOURNALIST: There must be people in Canberra who think it hasn’t been resolved nor put to bed, because they wouldn’t call for it otherwise?

GARRETT: Well this is a recommendation from an Opposition dominated Senate Committee. It is the majority report, it is a political document. And it has all the hallmarks of a political campaign conducted by the Opposition.

JOURNALIST: And it is unlikely that it is going to happen. But if it did would you expect to be called to give evidence?

GARRETT: Well again, this is simply a political gesture on the part of the Opposition. All of the matters that have been raised in response to and in relation to this scheme have been satisfactorily addressed and dealt with by the Government up to this point in time and they will continue to be.

JOURNALIST: How do you think Julia Gillard is going so far, is she still in the honeymoon period?

GARRETT: Well commentary about these matters I am going to leave to the commentators. We are focused on ensuring that Australian’s understand that there will be a choice between the Opposition Leader, Mr Abbott, his record and the things that he stands for and the Prime Minister and the things that she stands for. Australians will have a very clear choice to make at the next election…

JOURNALIST: And the new climate change policy, is that a bit of a backtrack?

GARRETT: Well again, it will be a case of the Government bringing forward policy which reaffirms our commitment to addressing climate change. A commitment that the Opposition does not have and never has had. And it comes on the back of the opposition parties and the minor parties in the Senate, opposing an emissions trading scheme in the Australian Parliament three times.

That is the context for the discussion about climate change, the fact that (a) the Opposition Leader doesn’t believe in it and (b) the opposition parties have never supported real action on climate change.

JOURNALIST: Are you expecting that Ms Gillard will unveil a new policy on climate change action today when she addresses the National Press Club?

GARRETT: Those matters are in the hands of the Prime Minister. She will determine those matters in her own good time.

JOURNALIST: There is a report out today saying that there won’t be enough water for a growing population reaching 45 million people. What is the Government’s plan to address the water shortages projected?

GARRETT: Well the Government has got a significant reform agenda underway both in the Murray Darling Basin but also in relation to the delivery of opportunities for increased recycling through our capital cities. That is part of our program which is ongoing.

We are very mindful of the need for us to better use our water wisely and efficiently and we have already invested significantly in those measures and I’d expect that to continue.

JOURNALIST: Is the Government ready to deal with the new carbon tax and do you have the Greens support for that?

GARRETT: Sorry, say again?

JOURNALIST: The carbon tax?

GARRETT: Well the Government will have more to say on the matter of climate change policy generally in the weeks ahead.


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