KEVIN RUDD: The man’s got to have some success sometime doesn’t he? No look the bottom line is this is all about how we help animals and the RSCPA has been doing this for 140 years or more.
RSPCA REPRESENTATIVE: 141 years
KEVIN RUDD: There you go. So the RSCPA has been supporting animals for 140 years. The least I can do is to do my bit to raise money for them. That’s what this is all about and that’s why contributing 10c a tin, 50c a tin, one dollar a tin, which Twinings is now doing for different presentations of this particular tea is, so important. So as I’ve said before, every time Australians sit down for a cup of this tea you’re contributing to the RSPCA which is good for all creatures great and small.
JOURNALIST: If you had to describe your tea blend as a sitting politician in federal parliament, which politician would it be?
KEVIN RUDD: Alright, that’s a very, very tricky question. I’ve got to be bipartisan about this haven’t I?
JOURNALIST: You do.
KEVIN RUDD: That’s true. So I think it’s kind of a bit of a cocktail I’d say, it would have I think a bit of Joe Hockey about it I think on their side but on our side I think a good additional touch of elegance, a bit of Tanya Plibersek as well. So there you go it’s those things combined. It’s what we describe as a masculine, feminine tea.
JOURNALIST: And we’ve recently had a lot of fires devastate the country, how important is it that a program like this is giving and making sure animals don’t miss out?
KEVIN RUDD: Well I think all of us are horrified to see the fires rage across the country. We’re horrified by the impact on people’s lives. We’re horrified at the loss of life, that poor firefighter who died recently in Tasmania but what is often not in the pictures is what happens to wildlife and frankly domestic pets as well. So at this time of year, it’s a double whammy for animals. It’s a fire season which is just horrible for animals and also it’s a time of year when many people, regrettably, desert their pets. So the RSPCA finds its hands full at this time of year so providing them with extra funding support is so important. Anything else on those questions?
JOURNALIST: I think we’ve covered it.
KEVIN RUDD: Okay anyone want to ask me anything else? That being the case you should absent yourself from the political line of fire.
RSPCA REPRESENTATIVE: I’m happy to answer anything about where the money goes and those sorts of things and you know anything at all about why we need the money because we do rely on shaking the tin.
JOURNALIST: So this is ten times the amount of funding that is coming from the packaging what will that go towards?
RSPCA REPRESENTATIVE: Well the money that we raise really keeps the organisation going and it keeps us welfare ready if you like and don’t forget we rely on the public donations to keep the RSPCA going. In other words, we have to shake the tin to raise virtually every dollar that we get in. It costs an awful lot to run the organisation across the country. We can never have enough funds we are always behind the eight ball in that regard, so I think in this case the public can be really really confident that every time they have a cup of tea they are making a donation to animal welfare and animal cruelty through the RSPCA, so there are supporting us. It’s a very easy way for the public to support animal welfare and they don’t really have to do anything apart from just chose this blend and know that the money is going to welfare and anti cruelty operations all across the country wherever that may be at the time.
KEVIN RUDD: Ok, anything else guys?
JOURNALIST: Mr Rudd, this morning Julia Gillard announced that she’s asked Jason Clare to look into options for the Federal Government to perhaps in the future intervene in some community safety issues with the state of shootings in Sydney and violence in Brisbane – she’s asked him to look at those options. Is there a role for the Federal Government to play in make communities safer?
KEVIN RUDD: I think all levels of government have a responsibility to do whatever we can to make our communities safer. This goes down to basic things at the local government level like ensuring we’ve got decent street lighting and to make sure that local spaces and public spaces are as safe as possible. At the state government level of course it goes to the resources and deployment of our police forces around the country. On a federal government level too, we can also support, not just through the Australian Federal Police and what it does nationally and internationally, but also effective anti-crime campaigns on the ground. So making our communities safer is a responsibility for all levels of government working together. I don’t think it’s a place for politics and I welcome what Minister Clare will be doing.
JOURNALIST: So on that you made some recent comments about taking action in Syria with what’s going on – is that kind of jumping over the head of the Foreign Minister?
KEVIN RUDD: Bob Carr and I have a terrific working relationship, he’s doing a great job as Foreign Minister and we talk on a regular basis. I think on the question of Syria, what I have said is that we are watching in Syria a Rwanda in slow motion. I have said that because 60,000 people now lie dead, who are innocent civilians, who have been murdered by the Syrian regime. This is not a small thing. Next time you go to a major football stadium, imagine very seat in that stadium filled with a person who now lies dead. Three and a half thousands children murdered through artillery attacks and bombing through the Syrian Air Force. Therefore, what I’ve simply said is that it’s time for us as an international community, not just Australia, to all possible options for how we bring an end to this regime. Therefore, our public debate in Australia should be mature enough, big enough to handle all people putting their ideas forward including me.
JOURNALIST: Speaking of the Middle East Mr Rudd, as a Former Foreign Minister, what do you make of the University of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies’ continued support of a boycotts, divestment and sanctions scheme against Israel here?
KEVIN RUDD: I have never supported that approach, I have said that in the past and I’ll say it today again and I’ll repeat it in the future. I think people who engage in that sort of activity around businesses who are associated with the Jewish community frankly, have just got it wrong. It doesn’t help. There is much, much more important debate to be had about how we mobilise international political opinion, international diplomatic action around a durable peace settlement in the Middle East and that’s why I’ve been strongly working with our Foreign Minister and with other countries around the world to seek to bring that about.
JOURNALIST: Do you think it’s embarrassing academically that it continues here that support for the BDS form the Centre?
KEVIN RUDD: It’s a matter for the authorities in this University. I’m more concerned about a general campaign along those lines. Frankly, it’s matter of diplomacy; it’s a question of putting proposals on the table which will work to bring about a durable peace settlement as opposed to targeted campaigns against businesses which happen to be owned by members of the Australian Jewish community. I think that’s just wrong. We should remember history.
JOURNALIST: Mr Rudd, do you have anything to say about Prime Minister Gillard’s cyber bullying announcement this morning?
KEVIN RUDD: As I understand it, the Prime Minister has made a statement about cooperative work between YouTube and Google and I think other arms of the social media to work together in a concerted campaign against cyber bullying, of course we would welcome that. Any form of cyber bullying, any form of misuse of the social media to intimidate people is just plain wrong. Whenever that happens.
JOURNALIST: Did it happen to you? What about your YouTube video? Have you got any comments to make?
KEVIN RUDD: Oh, my YouTube video. (laughter) That one.
KEVIN RUDD: Well, let me see. It was an interesting use of YouTube at the time. A very creative, pretty dishonest and I think from my understanding is that the Australian Federal Police are now requesting statements from various people about it. I think I’ll leave my comments there.
JOURNALIST: We’re in an election year now, what have backbenchers been told about the strategy for the year ahead? Particularly, with the polls against Tony Abbott as the Coalition leader, is his personality a problem?
KEVIN RUDD: Well, I’ll simply give you my view and I can’t speak for colleagues. The year is still young and many are not back at work yet. My attitude is very simple. As we head towards this 2013 election, people have got to ask themselves one very basic question. Are they comfortable with a guy like Tony Abbott being the Prime Minister of Australia. I’m not and I’m not comfortable for a whole bunch of reasons and one of those reasons is that his policies on so many questions are extreme. I don’t believe that they form part of the mainstream therefore of Australian society. So my attitude is, whatever problems folk may have with the Labor Party, and we have our share, you’ve got to ask yourself a pretty basic question. Would you entrust the Prime Ministership of the country with Tony Abbott? And I for one feel very uncomfortable with that because his policies are extreme.
JOURNALIST: Are you comfortable with Julia Gillard being the Prime Minister of Australia?
KEVIN RUDD: Well, I’m a member of the Labor Party and I’ve been a member of the Labor Party for about 31 years so a leopard doesn’t change his spots, well at least not this leopard. So I will be supporting the Labor Party, the Labor Government and Prime Minister Gillard with every effort I have to work towards their re-election at the end of this year. Also it goes back to a pretty basic point, just ask yourself as you walk into the ballot box, later this year are you confident and comfortable with a person and a politician like Tony Abbott with his extreme policies being Prime Minister of this country. I’ve said before, I also don’t think he has the temperament to be Prime Minister. I know a little bit about the pressures that come to bear on that office. I don’t think he has the temperament for the position.