The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of David Bradbury

David Bradbury

Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer

14 September 2010 - 5 March 2012

Transcript of 23/02/2012

NO.007

Interview with Steve Vizard

MTR

23 February 2012

SUBJECTS: Leadership

STEVE VIZARD:

David Bradbury, the Treasurer's Parliamentary Secretary. David, good you talk to you.

DAVID BRADBURY:

Good to talk to you too Steve.

VIZARD:

Has Wayne Swan gone over the top?

BRADBURY:

Well no, I think this is a situation where all parties have been called upon to engage in a bit of honest talking. Now I have to say that the since leadership change that occurred some 18 months ago, a lot of people have been critical of the way in which the Labor Party conducted itself. There have been suggestions that perhaps we needed to provide a more detailed explanation to the Australian people as to what had occurred. Now, I think what you are going to see over the course of the next couple of days is that these ongoing tensions that have, particularly in recent times become a major distraction, particularly with this campaign of destabilisation that has been occurring, that this will come to an end. We have a ballot now on Monday, this campaign that has been going on by people, I call them the nameless men, because they have been backgrounding and leaking to the media -

VIZARD:

Who else is there other than Rudd?

BRADBURY:

Well, I don't know who they are. But –

VIZARD:

I guess that's why they are called nameless men.

BRADBURY:

I suspect, that some of them will come forward in the coming days, but what they have been doing. There are plenty of journalists around this country - whilst they might want to protect their sources, and I can appreciate that - there are plenty of journalists around this country that know that there have been well places leaks and backgrounding and stories that have been occurring. The worse thing about this, and the thing that I find very frustrating, I'm a MP in a marginal seat, I find it frustrating that when the government is delivering on major policy reforms and we get real achievements in the Parliament that are going to impact on our constituents and the community in a positive way and just as we do that, every time we do that we see a story appear in the newspaper to add further instability as a result of this destabilisation.

VIZARD:

Let's address some of those points. Just on that point, a story appears in the news paper on at the instigation of the newspaper but arrives directly from the same people that are instigating the policy which is you. So can I just put this to you, you talk about policies and quantity of legislation but Government is as much about stability, about vision, about painting a blueprint for the country, and in that regard at this time the Government's a failure.

BRADBURY:

I don't believe that to be the case. One of the biggest constraints upon our ability to sell the message of the record of achievement that this Government has delivered and if you give me one moment I'll go some of those achievements -

VIZARD:

I don't think we need to, we know it, I think we are just weighting it up.

BRADBURY:

This is part of the problem, that every time we go to engage in the record of achievement that this government has been able to deliver. I'm not talking about the number of bills, I'm talking about the things we have done that will have a profoundly positive impact in our communities.

VIZARD:

We got all that this morning, the Prime Minister delivered that as a part of her campaigning this morning. She went through the carbon tax, the NBN, the Telstra rebate. We got all of that, but I'm talking about weighting that against something more fundamental perhaps more ephemeral, and that's strong leadership, of which there is none at the moment.

BRADBURY:

Well people say that..

VIZARD:

But there is manifestly not David.

BRADBURY:

With the greatest of respect. Pricing carbon has been something that successive leaders in this country have said needs to happen and they've all choked when they got to altar, they've all bailed at the altar. Whether it was John Howard or in the past in the previous term of Government, we failed to go ahead with delivering a price on carbon. Julia Gillard has done that, not only has she done that, she has done that in the context of a minority government. This is a difficult reform and we understand that -

VIZARD:

Is it a difficult reform that is going to cost you Government?

BRADBURY:

Let me answer the question this way and that is by saying that this has been politically very difficult for the Government, there has been no question about that but we have done this because we think it's the right thing for the country in the future, we think it will make our economy stronger in the future. Having done that, and having suffered much of the political pain that has come with that, I think it's ludicrous for us to be in a position where we might risk the prospect of having to go to a early election when reforms such as carbon pricing , the mining tax, superannuation reform - these things have not been bedded down. Why would we subject ourselves to the political pain that has come with making hard decisions and then put ourselves in a position where we might face the prospect of an early election to have possibly a change of Government and an incoming Government to rip up all these important reforms we have tried to put in place for the country.

VIZARD:

An incoming Government's bound to do it in any event, so it's just a question of who's going to give you the best chance of postponing an incoming government. Who do you back?

BRADBURY:

Can I say that I do not accept that Tony Abbott is going to rip aside these things. When these reforms are in place - just answer this Steve, do you honestly believe that in 2013 when we have an election and when we have a mining tax in place that has delivered tax cuts to small business, increases in superannuation for working people, that Tony Abbott is going to come in and deliver a billion dollar tax cut -

VIZARD:

Well, that's his commitment to date and that's their platform to date.

BRADBURY:

He has made that commitment, does anyone seriously believe that he is going to come into power, deliver a tax cut to Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer and take away those benefits? That these people will receive -

VIZARD:

But David that is his commitment, that is their platform, that is there commitment. Lets not discuss the opposition for the moment . You said this would bring it to a head and put it in an end forever. Do you believe that even if Rudd is defeated, him sitting on the back bench is going to put an end to this matter?

BRADBURY:

Look, I think a significant development occurred today with the Prime Minister when she made her announcement that there will be a ballot on Monday. She did what I think shows that she is prepared to put the Labor Party and the country's interests first. That is that she has said she will contest this ballot, she would hope and expect that she can win, but in the event that she does not win, she will return to the back bench and she will relinquish any ambitions she has for that high office. Now she has also called upon Kevin Rudd to give the same undertaking. I believe that that is the honourable thing for both candidates to do and I think that's what most Australians would expect. So that whatever the result on Monday we can have good Government being delivered in this country.

VIZARD:

Why on earth would be believe that any of them would agree to that on a long term basis? We know that political ambitions change, times change, in fact out of the Prime Minister's own mouth time's changed enough for her to change her position on the carbon tax because of necessity. Why would we believe on any mid to long term basis even if she went to the back bench that she wouldn't harbour thoughts of making a challenge, or Rudd, why should we believe that?

BRADBURY:

Well I think it's the honourable thing for a candidate to do.

VIZARD:

It might be honourable, but why would we believe it?

BRADBURY:

I think we would believe it because in her conduct in the past, particularly as a deputy who was loyal to the Prime Minister, she has demonstrated -

VIZARD:

Up to the point where she knifed him.

BRADBURY:

She sought to work within the processes of Government to make the Government better. I thought he explanation that she said out today was a detailed one -

VIZARD:

I thought it was a fair explanation of her conduct up to that point actually.

BRADBURY:

And I think she made the important point that, can I just raise this broader consideration, Steve. People say last time around it was terrible the way this happened in the dead of night yet, an alternative we are seeing now is this campaign of destabilisation that has gone on for months by people who are not prepared to put their name to their comments, don't have the courage of their convictions, but they were prepared to put their own personal interests ahead of the interests of the country and their Government. I am glad at least a ballot on Monday will bring this issue to a head. But one of the things I honestly believe, is that I believe it is incumbent of all members of the government, vote the way you need to vote, but we need to deal with this decisively so that whoever the winner is they can get on with the job of doing what the people that Labor Governments are elected to represent expect of us.

VIZARD:

David we have to leave it there, but I really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us today.

BRADBURY:

Thanks very much Steve.

VIZARD:

That's David Bradbury, Parliamentary Secretary to Treasurer, Wayne Swan on the leadership crisis.