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Gillard Passes Fiery Trial of Alan Jones Interview

February 25, 2011

It can be the toughest media for a politician, especially when 2GB’s Alan Jones is energised and angry. He will be savage with Labor leaders – as he was with Julia Gillard this morning.The subject was the government’s announcement on emissions trading, a subject where Jones is opposed on principle. It is also a policy where he is fully supportive of Abbott. In fact in the popular media he is Australia’s leading climate change denier. And yesterday’s ratings figures confirm his dominance of Sydney breakfast radio.

But Julia Gillard rose to the challenge. Kevin Rudd had boycotted the program (from his point of view not an entirely irrational choice, although not one that I as Premier ever considered – I liked the gladiatorial contest too much and before a vast sprawling, audience ).

Gillard insisted on factually correcting the broadcaster over his allegation that government concessions to the Green Party to win support for the flood levy were in the order of half a billion dollars. She very calmly insisted they were $150 million, less than three per cent of the government savings achieved by scrapping largely inefficient subsidies to renewable energy.

Gillard: Pricing carbon is the right thing to do and I said that during the election campaign.
Jones: No you did not.
Gillard: Yes I did, Alan.
Jones: Julia you gave a policy…
Gillard: Get all of the statements out Alan, you will see during the election campaign…
Jones: Julia, people…
Gillard: I said climate change is real. I said we needed to address it, that pricing carbon was the most efficient way to do it, that is what happened during the election campaign.
Jones: PM, this is untruthful.
Gillard: Check my statements.
Jones: You launched the ALP campaign … 5400 words in that speech to the ALP faithful when you launched the campaign. You did not mention carbon tax and you had one sentence on climate change…
Gillard: Alan, Alan, are you suggesting in a 35-day campaign, the only speech I ever made, the only statement that ever came out of my mouth was on the day of the ALP campaign launch? How ridiculous, Alan, and how calculated to mislead your listeners.

The Prime Minister has mastered the art of dealing with a demanding and indeed crusading interviewer who is ferociously well-briefed as well. She never responded to Jones’ passion but remained several notches below him on the indignation stakes, staying cool and courteous. She responded with facts and was prepared to repeat and reweave the facts to carry the audience with her. Like all of us she performs better when challenged and provoked.

“Why go on Jones?” people sometimes asked me, “He’s so anti-Labor.” My response was simple. Even if Jones was totally opposed to my policy I always used the 10 to 15 minutes as an opportunity to get at least a few key facts across, and I drove them home as hard as I could, repeating them as often as I could without getting boring. But my advice to other politicians is only do it if you feel comfortable with it and enjoy it. Julia Gillard seemed comfortable with it. I hope she enjoyed it . 

  1. Dean permalink
    February 25, 2011 1:58 pm

    I do think she enjoys the contest. She’s the same in QT. I really wish people got to see her like this (and in QT) more often, and not the somewhat wooden speeches we typically see. She has a very sharp wit, for the most part.

  2. Disgusted permalink
    February 25, 2011 4:35 pm

    I could not believe the disrespect that AJ showed to the office of Prime Minister by calling her Julia. The arrogance of the man knows no bounds.

    All pollies should boycott his show and simply not give the pompous pr!ck the opportunity for self-aggrandisement.

  3. February 25, 2011 6:41 pm

    Good on her, she gave as good as she got. I cannot bear to listen to Alan Jones – I tried once and failed – as he is so arrogant, rude and self-important. I wrote a letter of complaint to the station about the disrespect he showed her today.

  4. Andrew Stewart permalink
    February 26, 2011 1:31 pm

    Cruisading interviewer indeed but one that if well briefed… I think not. The “facts” that he presents his listeners are as distorted as some of his views which he belligerently expresses. His closing remarks was an attempt to diminish the lack of respect he showed the Prime Minister only to come back and take another shot. I applaud Jones for his tenacity and his ability to communicate the views of his listeners to the government. However, he must ensure that his facts are correct in order to have any chance in influencing anyone. Let’s hope the Government is providing the electorate with the facts as well.

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