JOURNALIST: What do you anticipate will come out of the Cabinet meeting today, will that be the end of the CET?
CARR: It is quite clear that the government is positioning itself to abandon the Chief Scientists report. A report that they have commissioned, a report that the Chief Scientist has laboured on for some time, a report that has gathered support more broadly amongst industry players , across this parliament, a report that has failed to attract the support of the right wing of the Liberal party. I mean that is his major problem.
The political fix that the Chief Scientist was asked to come up with has failed to meet the criteria set by Tony Abbott and his friends and so the Prime Minster from the security of Sydney Harbour he is able to talk glibly about the future of energy prices, he’d never had to face the problem of meeting energy bills the way most Australians have. He has never had to face the real difficulty that manufactures are facing at the moment where their price of electricity has been up two and three times, where we are faced by the extraordinary power of these market dominating energy generators who are now saying to take it or leave it to our major manufactures, who are saying in turn they are being forced off shore.
Now just as our major automotive companies are being forced off shore, we’re exporting jobs this is a government that is not really about understanding the problems of ordinary Australians. So yes, what we will see today is a government that is in the process of capitulating to Tony Abbott and his right wing mates in a bid desperately to try maintain some sort of internal arrangements within the Liberal party the sort of arrangements that lead the Prime Minster to get the mortgage on the Lodge which is now being extracted in full measure by the right wing of the Liberal party.
JOURNALIST: What do you expect on the debate on higher education this week and what will Labor’s strategy be opposing those changes?
CARR: We made it quite clear, we don’t think that ordinary Australians should have to foot the bills that this government asking of them when it comes to higher education.
What this government is doing is trying to force people who are on ordinary average weekly earnings to pay increasing costs of education, we are now asking people to meet the costs of their higher education contributions. These will be cleaners; these are people who are on part time work being obliged to meet their repayments for their education well before their able to afford to do so. We have had a good education system in this country; we are a world leader in education this government is in the process of dismantling it.
Now we know the problems of privatisation, we know the problems of deregulation; we know what the cost is to the economy. Surely this government has learnt the lessons but I’m afraid they keep pressing on with these policies and it looks to me as if it is unlikely that they will attract the support of the Senate for those measures which I am very pleased to reflect upon and we will look forward to a Labor Government having to deal with the problems in terms of higher education system.
Just as we will have to look to a Labor Government to deal with the problem of energy pricing, just as we will have to look to a Labor Government to deal with the questions of the manufacturing sector in this country that is able to get access to finance and able to get the support from a national government that is committed to the future of an economy where everybody gets a fair go, an economy where people can look with confidence to the future.
Real wages now have been pressed for some time the price of energy has been out stripping that to some considerable degree and we know that people are not able to meet these sorts of cost on their households.
JOURNALIST: Australia is due to be elected uncontested to the UN Human Rights Council for the first time today, at the same time as we are being grilled on our human right record when it come to asylum seeker policy and indigenous affairs. Do those areas concern you? Are there human rights concerns that might delegitimise our claim to that seat?
CARR: I think we do have some real questions about the way in which people are being treated in these detention centres, the conditions of confinement should never ever be used as a mechanism as deterrents. We have to ensure that we treat people decently and we have full respect for human rights I’m afraid that the present Immigration Minister – whatever you call him no matter how many uniforms he struts around with – will not change the fact that we have international treaty obligations and we should respect them.
JOURNALIST: At the same time what do you think it means for Australia to have a seat on that council?
CARR: Well of course it is important for us to engage internationally, it is very important for us to be part of an international system that does understand the importance of human rights but it also lifts the bar for us it means that we do have to take an increasing role in terms of making sure we are model citizens.
JOURNALIST: Just finally on the NewsPoll, can I get a comment on that?
CARR: The Prime Minister set the bar didn’t he? He said that the reason that they said they got rid of Tony Abbott was that there had been 30 NewsPolls in a row that had gone bad for the Abbott Administration, we are now on 21. So the Prime Minister has set that bar himself, we are now in the very nervous twenties for the Prime Minister.
Look the polls are so bad that even The Australian don’t try to hide how difficult it is for the government at the moment. We have got a situation where the government is frankly not able to sustain proper national leadership because it is preoccupied. Now no matter how much government advertising they try to run in the week leading up to a polling period – which is very noticeable – no matter what they try to do in terms of manipulating the news cycle, the Australian people are making it very clear what their attitude is, you don’t really need a poll to determine that this is a Prime Minister that is out of touch, that is aloof, that is arrogant and clearly not able to do the job. He is not a very good politician, he is not very good at his job and it is increasingly clear the Australian people are a wake up to him.