Subjects: 2013 election, fixed terms, Greens achievements
CHRISTINE MILNE: Australia is set to go to the polls on September 14. There will be a lot of discussion about what hollow promises may be made between now and then, but it is an opportunity for Australians to really take all political parties to task, to talk about what sort of country we want and what sort of policies will deliver that. The Greens will be very much out on the front foot. We are of course a political party that is supporting innovation, we're supporting addressing global warming, and bringing about a transformation to renewable energy with all the jobs that that will bring across Australia. Already this year we've put out a couple of policies; one is to increase Newstart by at least $50 a week, something that everybody agrees is the best way to get people out of poverty and back into the workforce. We're also saying that we're prepared to fund that by bringing in a millionaires' tax so that we actually get more equity in Australia.
But in terms of this September 14 date, this is a bit of a difference in Australian politics where we have a date so far out ahead of the polls and it's a great opportunity for us to bring in fixed terms. So the Greens are now calling on Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott to say let's now agree from henceforth we will have fixed three year terms, we will all know that the election's going to be in that second week of September, for henceforth three years. Wouldn't that be a great thing for the Australian people so that we didn't have all the game playing that has gone on in the past? As the Prime Minister said there will be a debate about it, well let's do more than debate it, let's have an agreement to do it, it would require legislation, we're happy to talk to the other political parties, but let's go with September 14 and fixed three year terms.
CHRISTINE MILNE: The Prime Minister's office informed my office around about half an hour before her press club speech that she intended to call the election on August the 12 for September 14, her office indicated she would be saying that in her speech and I'm now calling on her to fixed three year terms.
JOURNALIST: Were you surprised by the date?
CHRISTINE MILNE: There's been a lot of speculation about the election date but of course there was the agreement with Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor about approximate times and it was pretty clear we would be sitting through to the end of June, then we have the winter break and that the Prime Minister would call the election before the House resumed after the winter break, so clearly there had been a lot of speculation, whether it would be the last week in August or the first couple of weeks in September, now we've got the date. All Australians know this is an election year, it's a great opportunity for Australians to really get out there and tell the political parties what sort of country we want, and from the Greens' point of view we will be the party talking about protecting the environment, looking after the Great Barrier Reef, taking on the coal industry and taking on the resource based industries to protect places like James Price Point, the Tarkine in Tasmania, and of course threatened species across the country.
So it's going to be a great year, it's going to be an exhausting year for everyone in the political process, but I would love the Prime Minister and Tony Abbott to now commit to fixed three year terms starting with the election this year.
JOURNALIST: The Greens have been pretty instrumental in this minority Government, is that something you'd be reluctant to lose then and what's the agenda going to be to get things through before then?
CHRISTINE MILNE: Well the Greens will be working very hard with the Government to implement as much progressive policy as we can, but we're the ones holding both the Government and Coalition to account in terms of raising revenue. It's no use for the Prime Minister talking about implementing Gonski for education or national disability, it's no use talking about Denticare, we have to raise the money for it, and I think that's going to be the difference. The Greens are honest enough to say to the Australian people you're not going to get enough money from cuts, we need to raise the money, and the best way of raising the money is in an equitable way, and those mining companies have been making mega profits. You know they made $70 billion in profit before tax. Isn't it time that the Australian people got some of that money back? That's what spreading the benefits of the boom is about, it's about preparing for the different kind of future we need, that means investing in research and development, education, protecting our environment, and the Greens are going to be out there full on in a campaign to say we've already achieved the Biodiversity Fund, we've already achieved the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, $10 billion into renewables, we're working on energy efficiency, we've got emissions trading but we need to do more and the Greens are going to be saying looking after the environment is not only good for the environment, addressing climate change but it actually creates jobs, it creates jobs, innovation, the kind of future we need, that clean future is very much tied up to what the Greens have been able to achieve in this period of Government and we'll continue into the next.