Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer
14 September 2010 - 5 March 2012
Interview with Kieran Gilbert
Sky News AM Agenda
23 February 2012
Lee thank you very much for that and as we have mentioned the Prime Minister's news conference 9.30 eastern time from the South Australian parliament, I can tell you that she is going to be keeping up her workload anyway beyond the news conference. She is going to visit the Brighton Secondary School a little later this morning to meet with principals, talk to school representatives about the Government education reforms, so despite all the distractions the Prime Minister hoping to at least try and give some semblance of getting of with the job. Joining me on the program now I've got the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, David Bradbury. David, thanks for your time. The Treasurer's statement last night - just extraordinary. This is civil war erupting within the Labor Party. Have you ever seen anything like it?
Well good morning Kieran. Look, I think on the one hand, when we had the last leadership transition there were a lot of questions being asked about 'why'. Why was it that the Labor Party did what it did. And in fact, since that time many people have said to me, I think the party has not provided an explanation of what did occur. I think in part, what is going to occur, in the next couple of days is that people will be making that explanation. They will be making an explanation about why it is that we have done what we previously did, but also more importantly, why as a Party, and I believe it is the majority, an absolute, very strong majority of our Parliamentary Party, believe that Julia Gillard is best placed to continue leading as Prime Minister. And she is best placed to do that for a few reasons, but can I just address one of these issues of the so-called 'faceless men'.
I saw that there were allegations being made yesterday that somehow the Labor Party has become a party that is being controlled by faceless men. Well that is not true, but I tell you what, we face the real prospect of becoming a party that is destroyed by nameless men and that is what has been occurring in this Party for the past few months. There have been a number of nameless individuals, people that do not have the courage of their convictions, who are prepared to in private and in background discussions with journalists, to feed leadership speculation at every opportunity when the Government has achieved a major policy victory - and there have been many. They have been out there on the phone, backgrounding journalists, breaking the momentum that the Government has been gaining and doing so in order to destabilise the leadership of Julia Gillard. Now that has to stop. This is not a pleasant time for anyone but I am pleased that this is coming to a head because I think it is important that this is resolved decisively and the only way in my view that this can be dealt with decisively is for Caucus to decisively show their support for the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.
Can I make this point Kieran, some of the challenges that we face in the polls at the moment relate specifically to some of the hard reforms that we're trying to implement. First point that I would make is that most of those reforms have not yet been fully implemented and it would be, I think, an act of gross injustice for us to risk the prospect of bedding down those reforms by risking an early election with the sort of carry on that we are seeing at the moment. We need to implement these reforms and to Tory-proof them. We need to make sure that they are embedded in the fabric of this nation like we did with Medicare, like we did with superannuation, so that a future Liberal Government when that may happen - and I hope that's a long way away - but when they do come to power they do not have the capacity to dismantle these significant achievements that we are delivering.
David, I know that you're saying that this is a chance to resolve a few of those issues but I just want to get your thoughts on the prospect of, or the likelihood of this government healing some of the wounds that we are seeing so blatant and so ugly in the public domain. We saw Steven Conroy this morning saying that Kevin Rudd not only had contempt for the Cabinet, he had contempt for the Caucus and he had contempt for the Australian people. Last night Wayne Swan, your boss, in this statement said, 'Kevin Rudd sought to tear down the 2010 election campaign, deliberately risking an Abbott Prime Ministership and know he undermines the government at every turn'. He says that, 'Labor cannot afford to go back to someone who does not hold any Labour values. Colleagues are sick of Kevin Rudd driving the vote down by sabotaging policy announcements and undermining our substantial economic successes'. This is unprecedented.
Well, I'll leave it to people like you to decide whether it's unprecedented but what I think is important...
How do you heal the wounds, David, is what I'm asking? It seems impossible.
Well, there have been lots of bold and courageous predictions of the sort that you have just made then Kieran and made by journalists in the past. What I do know, and what I believe, is that we are a Government in this term of Government that is delivering for people in communities such as mine and I want to make this point very clearly. We put a lot of ideas on the agenda during the last term of Parliament, but this has been a Parliament that has delivered and in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. In a minority government situation, we are in government because Julia Gillard has been able to negotiate the support of independents, and in doing so negotiate their support on key policy initiatives. Look at the record of achievement: pricing carbon, something we couldn't do in the previous term of Government; implementing a mining tax, something that we are in the final stages of putting in place; delivering reform of private health insurance. These are significant reforms. Continuing the work with the NBN. These are the things...
And now you're ripping yourselves apart.
Well, as a Government, I think there would be very few people that would come forward, particularly people in marginal seats such as the one I represent, that would be able to deny this simple reality, and that is that it hasn't mattered what achievement and what a record of achievements we have been able to deliver, while ever this campaign of destabilisation is being mounted that is starving the government of the oxygen we need to get our record out into the community. It is a proud record and I'll tell you what, it is a record that stands up against governments throughout the history of this country but we have to have the opportunity to get out there and make this case. And the thing I firmly believe is that over the last few months, in particular, the sort of sneaky, below the radar guerrilla-like warfare that is going on has denied the Government of this opportunity and every time we have got some runs on the board, I see another headline. Now, on these headlines I make this point, that we have either got on the one hand journalists completely fabricating these stories or we have people who do not have the courage of their convictions to put their name to these leaks and the backgrounding material they are providing to journalists. And I say…
You can, hardly say there is fabrication, I mean, I know that sometimes there might be some tenuous reports but to target the media today of all days is pretty rich.
Kieran, Kieran. The very point I'm making is that it's either one or the other. It's either fabrication or - I don't believe it's fabrication. What I believe it is and has been is a campaign of destabilisation by a small amount of people and it's got to stop. And I think that this has to be brought to a head. And the journalists out there that are writing these stories, they know this. I understand why they don't want to disclose their sources but they know that this has been a campaign of destabilisation that hasn't just occurred in the last week or so, to come forward and say that we are upset with comments that Simon Crean made in the last couple of days is ridiculous. This has been going on for some months. It's becoming increasingly clear exactly the nature of this campaign that has been occurring and I say particularly to those people engaged in the activity that are in safe seats or in the Senate: it's time to stop, it's time to bring it to an end and it's time to give people out there in marginal seats like me who are out there trying to sell the very, very strong record of this Government, the chance to do that. Or otherwise, frankly they are doing themselves, the Labor Party and the country a grave disservice.
Well, I know that you said yesterday that you are willing to get a tattoo the other day, but some of the papers today still have you in the undecided column - they mustn't have seen your statement?
Look Kieran, I am exasperated, I'm exasperated. I couldn't have been clearer. Standing their next to the Prime Minister on national television I made it absolutely clear that she had my clear and unequivocal support. In fact, I challenged any journalist in this country that has had any discussion with me that might even suggest that my support was less than 100 percent, to come forward. No one has come forward. But we see reports again today listing me as undecided. Kieran I am going to make a complaint to the Press Council and frankly these journalists should be sacked. They should be sacked, because this is just totally unacceptable.
Okay, Well I don't think you are the tattoo sort of guy so it's good that your wife precluded that. But thanks a lot for that, and we look forward to. We will chat to you over the next few days.
Thanks very much Kieran.