Transcript—Doorstop interview

Interview

DCI019/2016

05 December 2016

The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne

Prime Minister: Thank you very much, Professor, and it's good to be here at The Alfred with my colleagues, the Health Minister, Sussan Ley and Darren Chester, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.

And we are committing $450,000 over three years to the Australian Trauma Registry. As you've heard, this is a vitally important tool in enabling Australia's clinicians, our trauma centres—27 of them across the country of which this is the largest here at the Alfred—better to treat and ensure that Australians who are the victims of accidents, about half of which are road accidents, the bulk of the balance being falls, to ensure that they recover and recover well. And so the ability to compare the types of accidents, the causes of accidents, the treatments and which treatments work most effectively, which therapies are most successful, that is absolutely critical. That is putting the power of big data and the internet and all of that digital technology that underlines our future prospects in the 21st century, putting all that to work to ensure that Australians get the best—continue to get the best treatment—at the trauma centres around the country.

Before I ask the Health Minister and the Transport Minister to say a few words I want to say something about road safety. We are coming into the Christmas period where a lot of Australians are heading off on holidays. It is also a time when everyone is very busy. This is a very dangerous time on the roads. The Transport Minister, Darren Chester, is meeting with the Police Commissioners from right across the country to talk about road safety. We have been making good progress in road safety but regrettably, we're not making enough progress. In some respects we're going backwards.

Some very interesting statistics for you; for example, here in Victoria, there were, the Police Commissioner assured us just a moment ago, 250 deaths, road fatalities last year. Twenty four involved alcohol, 45 involved illicit drugs—and this is a growing trend. Also, other factors of course are speed, tiredness and driver distraction.

Just about every driver in Australia has a mobile phone and those mobile phones, as we all know, are very distracting, and they are not to be used or looked at when you're behind the wheel of a car.

I want to urge all Australians to drive safely during this holiday period that is approaching. It's a joyous time of year, a happy time of year, but on the roads it can be a dangerous and a very tragic one.

We are working very hard with the police, with great clinicians like those here at the Alfred, to ensure that road accidents are minimised and when they do occur, the treatment is swift and effective.

So we are delighted to be supporting the registry here with an additional $450,000. I will now ask the Health Minister to say a few words and the Transport Minister and then we can deal with some other important issues as well.

Minister for Health: Many thanks, Prime Minister. Professor Fitzgerald was just explaining to me that 10 years ago if you had a ruptured heart at the side of a road in road trauma, you were more likely to die than live. Now, the reverse is the case. That is because of the knowledge and the understanding that we have developed about severe injuries and trauma, particularly in road accidents. It is because of clinical best practice and it is because the teams of doctors, nurses and researchers, who make this trauma institute so very special, are world leaders in what they do and they are continually striving to improve.

Today is a day I want to recognise the work that they do. Now registries sometimes seem a bit arcane when it comes to health but in fact they are deeply connected because registries, the collection of the data, the sharing of the information and the use of that information to inform the way we respond, in the early stages, in the crisis part of the treatment, the arrival here at the helipad and what happens next at the bedside. It all comes together to give our doctors and our nurses the protocols to deliver the best treatment. As I said, they never rest. They work harder and harder and our funding commitment today is about recognising that and the value of recording, registering and sharing the information that we get from severe trauma across the 27 trauma centres or hospitals in Australia today.

So thank you very much. Darren, as a rural MP, and I both know what it is like to travel long distances on the roads and I also urge you to be very safe this Christmas. Thank you.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport: Thank you Sussan and can I thank you Prime Minister for your very important words in relation to road safety. As we stand here today we need to recognise that by Christmas, if we continue with the current trend, another 70 Australians will be killed on our roads. Think about that for a moment. Another 70 Australians won't be with their families this Christmas if we continue on the same trend of road trauma in our nation. So it's an important meeting we're having today, with the round table of Police Commissioners. Equally it's important that the Prime Minister and Sussan Ley are here today in relation to the national trauma registry. It's important because the more we can measure the data, share that information and then inform our decision making, we'll be able to make sure we are reducing road trauma right across the community.

Now the Federal Government is investing in the order of $50 billion in infrastructure across the nation, because we recognise that we can change people's lives and we can also save people's lives. We change lives by reducing congestion, improving productivity in the nation. But those investments in road safety actually will save lives. They'll reduce the number of serious injures ensure more people are at home with their families this Christmas.

Can I also welcome, just briefly, Assistant Commissioner Doug Fry, who is here today and he will be part of the round table. Doug has been a leading advocate in relation to road safety not just here in Victoria but across Australia.

Assistant Commissioner Doug Fry: Thanks Minister. It is an opportune time to talk around road safety coming up to the Christmas period. Already this year across the nation we have lost 1,000 Australians to road trauma. 1,000 people, more than three a day, so every single day we are seeing a church, a chapel, synagogue or mosque overflow with people grieving for someone who need not have been lost.

So many of these crashes have been avoidable. What we want, we want all Australians, everyone residing in Australia, to be there for Christmas, the very best present you can give is to be there for Christmas Day.

Prime Minister: Thank you very much, Doug.

Before we move onto other questions, can I just say something about my very good friend, John Key, who has announced today that he is resigning as Prime Minister of New Zealand.

I heard he was about to make that announcement, I just sent him one very short message; "Say it ain't so, bro". He will be a great loss to New Zealand and a great loss to the world.

John Key is one of the most outstanding national leaders in the world today. He has done an extraordinary job for New Zealand. He is somebody that all of us right around the world, leaders in countries large and small draw inspiration from. Because what he has been able to do is demonstrate that if you make the case for reform, clearly, cogently, persuasively, you can win and retain strong public support for economic reform.

That is what he has done in New Zealand. New Zealand has never been better situated than it is today. They are going very well. He is leaving the economy in a very strong state. The Budget is in surplus, economic growth is strong. And that is due to the outstanding leadership John has shown.

He has also been a very influential player on the world stage. I have been to many international conferences with John Key and his words are heard with a respect and an attention that is way out of proportion to the size of New Zealand. I mean New Zealand has never boxed above its weight as much as it does or as it has done with John Key as its Prime Minister. He is truly outstanding. He and Bronagh are also very good friends of Lucy and I. The only consolation that we have, I suppose, is that hopefully we will see more of them.

He has really been a great leader and an inspiring one and on behalf of all Australians, I thank him for his leadership of New Zealand. I thank him for what he has done in showing us a great role model of political leadership and I thank him for the leadership he has shown as Prime Minister of New Zealand on the world stage.

Journalist: Prime Minister how do you think John Key's resignation will affect relations with Australia—between Australia and New Zealand?

Prime Minister: Our relations are very good. It will be hard to improve them. They are very strong and they always have been. But you know John brought a lot to the New Zealand-Australia relationship, but above all, he has been such a great role model for a reforming leader. You know, he has been able to—he has undertaken big reforms in New Zealand, but he has been able to do so and maintain strong popular support. These are challenging times for Governments and for leaders—and it has been for quite some time. John took over in 2008, as you know, just at the time of the global financial crisis and he has been able to navigate New Zealand through all of that. He has been able to substantially improve their international trade. He has been a great advocate for trade. He was one of the architects of the TPP for example. He has been a great advocate for trade and he has been a great example of a reforming leader.

Journalist: Mr Key made comments that he didn't want to stay beyond his use by date. Do you think that those comments could be applied to some politicians in Australia?

Prime Minister: I think what John has done—look, I have to say his announcement didn't come as a complete surprise to me. He is the sort of leader that is always going—he will know the right time to go. He has gone, as he said, when he is on top. He has retired when people are begging him to stay. He is a class act, none classier.

Journalist: Did you or anyone in Government speak to Tony Abbott before deciding to abolish the Green Army?

Prime Minister: For a start, I will deal with the premise of the question. I have seen the report in the paper today about that. All of those—I am not going to foreshadow what may be in MYEFO which is only a few weeks away.

Journalist: The Italian Prime Minister has also announced his resignation today, were you surprised by the outcome of the vote?

Prime Minister: I have been following it from afar obviously. It did appear that the numbers were working against him. Again, I wish Matteo Renzi all the best in his retirement. I hasten to add, the nature of Italian politics is that he could easily be back any time soon. This may just be a temporary interlude in his career. The path of reform is very challenging and that again brings us back to John Key, how he was able to achieve so much and yet maintain all the time strong support.

Journalist: Is Landcare a more efficient way of spending the money?

Prime Minister: Again, you are assuming that the report in the newspaper today is correct and I would simply say we have a very strong commitment to environmental programs. Landcare is a very good program. It is very much admired and very effective. It is a very effective use of funds. It has enormous community support. But I am not going to be drawn on the report in the press today.

Journalist: Will the green army be scrapped at all?

Prime Minister: Thank you. You are all asking me the same question. Again, we will have to wait until MYEFO.

Journalist: Can we turn to the climate review, Prime Minister? I understand that your Government is looking at whether to penalise power stations depending on what level of emissions they reach—can you guarantee that consumers won't face higher energy bills?

Prime Minister: The provision for a review of our climate policy in 2017 has been part of the Coalition's policy for a very long time. In fact, in my recollection, back prior to us being in government in fact. This is nothing remarkable. We have beaten our Kyoto target. We will beat it by about 78 million tonnes our 2020 target. We are on track to achieve our 2030 target of 26–28 per cent reduction in emissions. As you would expect, a review has been built into that. Josh Frydenberg has released the terms of reference and the review will take its course and its results will be considered by the Government.

Journalist: Did you meet with Mr Adani this morning, or are you planning to meet with him and what will you discuss?

Prime Minister: There is an Australia India dialogue here in Melbourne today which I will be speaking at shortly. I do expect to meet Mr Adani and I have got no doubt we will be discussing his proposed substantial investment in Queensland.

Journalist: You met with a boy named Angus this morning from the Starlight Foundation, how was that meeting?

Prime Minister: Angus, what a great guy. Angus is in Year 9. He has had a lung transplant. He comes from Broken Hill. He is doing well. His dad and his mum were there with him and we had a good discussion about a range of issues—political, educational, social. He had his views on American politics as well. He is a great guy. He is a great example, I guess, of resilience, determination, great courage. He is an inspiration and well done on Starlight for setting the meeting up. He had a few—his mum said there were a few questions that he had that he didn't get around to asking me, so we have exchanged numbers. I will be Facetiming with him soon and we can go through the rest of his list.

Thank you all very much.