ABC TV News 24 – 19 August 2013
Breakfast Show, Queanbeyan NSW, 0600 – 0930hrs
Transcript of interview with Dr Mike Kelly (ALP)
MR – Michael Rowland – compere / host,
MK – Dr Mike Kelly, member for Eden Monaro
MR. Why do you deserve another go as the member for Eden Monaro?
MK. Well two things mainly. I have delivered on every single promise I have ever made. I have worked extremely hard here and even my worst enemies would acknowledge that. I have worked extremely hard. I have a deep passion for the region thats based on 166 years of family history and I have a lot to live up to, but also because I have a positive and specific plan for the region going forward for the economic turbo charging of our economy which involves some key infrastructure investments for tourism, continuing to exploit the clean energy future package which has been absolute gold for our region and of course building on the back of the full roll out of the NBN and making sure we have great new investments and create the sorts of opportunities for business to come here that wouldnt exist before and starting to see that happen now.
MR. Three years now of a very volatile period in Parliament in Australian political life, do you find this is going to be a bigger challenge for you this time to get over the line?
MK. Its always the same here in Eden Monaro, as you know its a real battlefield. The margin we sit on now is the largest margin since 1996 and its only 4.2% and so its always tough and as you can see its always colourful and highly contested. We have a great celebration of democracy here so its great to be a part of and we have very great contests and debates. So, its you know, its what democracy is all about.
MR. You are the Minister for Defence Materiel and Kevin Rudd has already anointed you as the Defence Minister if the Labor Government is re-elected. Is that a blatant pitch to the military vote in this seat?
MK. No, look at what he said it subject to Caucus approval of course and there are a few hurdles for me to get over, Ive got to retain the seat, weve got to retain government and Ive got to get Caucus endorsing and approval in the executive. Look, this is a region where Defence issues resonate, we have the headquarters of the Joint Operations Command with many Defence families, families with sons and daughters serving in the ADF. And a proud service tradition; every generation of my family has served in the military and their names are all over the Bega memorial and so its is important to us. People get elected to Federal Parliament to do Federal things and there is nothing more Federal than Defence and I am proud of the work that I have been able to do in that portfolio, so you know I will be happy to continue in that work if I am fortunate enough to be re-elected.
MR. Speaking of Defence I have been speaking to a lot of veterans who are, and you see some behind me, who are very concerned that the government hasnt really gone all the way in improving their pensions. There was of course an announcement by Kevin Rudd at the outset of the campaign and they still argue, they argue very very strongly on this issue, that is has not kept up the cost of living and purchasing power.
MK. Yes, look this is an issue. I have fought very hard for the last six years and certainly the Howard Government did nothing on this issue, including my opponent, who was in the Howard Government and advocated in 2005 that veteran pensions should be cut including the abolition of Veterans Affairs. But in that six years I have achieved improvements in pensions, soour veterans are in factfixed, we have introduced triple indexing mechanism to fix their pensions, also TPI compensation recipients triple indexed now, and so I have now achieved the next step of including PBLCImechanism for the DFRB and DFRDB pensions which is a mechanism designed to keep pace with the cost of living.
MR. There are a lot of acronyms there so people get confused…
MK. Comes with the military environment.
MR. Yes, but the argument ….
MK. PBLCI is designed to keep pace with the cost of living.
MR. They will argue it isnt
MK. Well for the veterans and the TPI compensation people it certainly does and the Pensioners and Beneficiaries Living Cost Index was designed to accurately reflect increases in the cost of living. Now, do I think that is where we should stop and no I dont. I believe you can never do enough for our ex-service people and veterans and I will continue to work for improvements there but any further improvements in indexation will have to be accompanied by reforms to ensure the impact on the Future Fund is limited and that we can afford them.
The interview continues on unrelated matters for another few minutes.