SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Julia Gillard stood at the Press Club earlier this year to announce September 14 as the election day but she said there were many more days of governing to come. What we’re now seeing, though, are instead days of stunts and days of campaigning, far from days of governing. The challenge for Julia Gillard, in going to western Sydney next week, is whether she will release new policy – policies that address the concerns of the people in western Sydney. Will she follow Tony Abbott’s lead and commit to funding for the WestConnex road service, so that we actually have a system that helps the transport needs of people in western Sydney? Will she commit to axing the carbon tax, to help address the cost-of-living concerns of people in western Sydney? Will she commit to reintroducing temporary protection visas, to address the concerns of the people in western Sydney who are worried about the control of Australia’s borders? These are the types of policy issues that need to be addressed, instead of what I suspect will simply be a series of photo opportunities and campaign stunts that demonstrate the Prime Minister’s statement at the Press Club was nothing more than another lie from this Prime Minister, another case of this Prime Minister simply going out there and indicating one thing and doing the other, saying she’d be governing but instead going on and campaigning, and that’s what we’re seeing again.
On another matter, can I challenge Stephen Conroy today to come clean about what his direction for media reform is, because we see very clearly in today’s reports that Stephen Conroy is obviously negotiating with the Australian Greens over media reform before he even puts a proposal to the Labor Cabinet. He needs to be honest about what his intentions are, what his ambitions are for media reform, what he’s willing to rule out, because there is nothing less at stake here than the freedom of the Australian press, to ensure we have the type of robust criticism that we need to have in the Australian democracy coming from all of you on all of us, rather than what appears to be a vendetta-driven approach by this Communications Minister to target media outlets with whom he has a differing opinion.
JOURNALIST: Do you have a problem with the Murray–Darling Basin Authority drastically cutting… or the New South Wales Government, rather, drastically cutting funding to the Murray–Darling Basin Authority?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I have grave concerns that both the New South Wales and South Australian Government have significantly cut funding to the Murray–Darling Basin Authority. This is obviously going to impede on the Authority’s ability to effectively manage the Murray-Darling Basin, to manage the critical infrastructure of the water assets throughout there and I’m very worried that the Labor Government in South Australia, along with the Coalition Government in New South Wales, have cut funding and have jeopardised the management of the river system.
Thanks, everyone.