Gillard Passes Fiery Trial of Alan Jones Interview
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 .