Channel Seven’s Global Financial Crisis Special, October 2008

KEVIN RUDD: Well the purpose of my being here this evening is that Channel Seven has now become Channel Kevin and I want to talk about the global financial crisis and its effects on households right across the country.

A few words first. When you look at this financial crisis a lot of people are asking, how does it happen, how does it actually come to be like this, how the f-ck does a colourless blubber-chinned bureaucrat like me know what to do.

Let me just say this in a really condescending, infantile voice as if I’m talking to butter brained labradoodles. First and foremost, a year or so ago a whole bunch of American banks lent a whole bunch of money to a whole bunch of people who could never afford to repay those loans for houses. This is called excessive capitalism and my millionaire wife and I are revolted by it.

Well that’s one problem, but then it got much worse because a whole bunch of other banks in the US and elsewhere around the world then decided to underwrite a big bunch of those loans. And as a result the cancer spread. Bad cancer. Testicular cancer. And these naughty banks didn’t disclose what they were doing. Just like my Labor government, these evil little banks didn’t reveal to the public the true state of the economic situation. That created a crisis of confidence for the banking system and then on top of that you had the freezing up of global credit markets. They froze up like the face of constituents who meet Maxine McKew.

So what are the implications for Australia? First, I’m going to have to learn something about domestic economics. Second, I’m going to have to take the lead media role from Wayne Swan and Lindsay Tanner so they don’t bring to the fore their extensive knowledge of financial systems. And the third thing is about a Nation Building Agenda for Australia which I have entrusted to Anthony Albanese. If Albo can build the nation like he builds his Left sub-branches, then this country will be here for the long term.

Over to you for some questions.

AUDIENCE: Mr Prime Minister, if I may call you Kevin?

PM: That is fine, I have been called worse: W-nker, d-ckhead, t-rd features, you name it.

AUDIENCE: I am Max and I am a greedy, self interested Liberal. I notice that you just increased the first home buyers grant. Is this going to be a repeat of mortgage repossessions over the next couple of years and what is the Government doing to try and protect this?

PM: Now I am quite worried about housing and my housing minister, Tanya Plibersek, housing guru, housing barbie, she’s been in the media quite considerably. But in terms of what I am doing, I’ve commissioned a number of reports and reviews, asked for briefs and papers, requested spreadsheets and diagrams, examined flow charts and analysed floor plans. I’ve spoken with the Backyard Blitz team and videoed Better Homes and Gardens, so I have looked at this issue carefully and my understanding is that we have got a real problem on our hands; in fact, we’re pretty much f-cked in terms of affordable housing.

Long term, this is your question, as well, about how you balance it, a shot in the arm here, and maintain stability down the track, a few broken phrases, some more non-sequiturs, a juxtaposition about balancing supply side measures, a mention of boosting construction, an addendum regarding the demand side measures, which is making it easier for people to go out and buy a house, then amongst this horse sh-t you’ll find that we should be able to get the balance right.

AUDIENCE: Mr Rudd my name is Janette and I am a retired, as is my husband John. And we are in a bit of a dilemma at the moment because our income is dropping rapidly and I am just wondering should we sell our house in Wollstonecraft and should we trust the market.

PM: Well you know something Janette, the last thing I can do responsibly as Prime Minister of the country is give you individual financial advice, or fashion advice for that matter, but in your case, perhaps I could urge you and John to bugger off overseas or perhaps invest in property, such as a crypt, bomb shelter or private sanitarium.

AUDIENCE: Good evening Kevin, Mark is my name. I’ve got a history going back over many years of running councils and political parties in Australia. Since I was sacked in 2005, I’ve done some token columns for the Financial Review so every penny I earn has got to do me for the future. What are you doing about contracts and looking at bonuses and pay-outs for people like me?

PM: Your question is absolutely sh-te Mark, because it goes to I think a deep sense in the Australian community that enough is enough is enough is enough is enough. So if my alliteration and repetition doesn’t make you feel all amorous, then to go to your question about what we’re doing; I went to New York about two or three weeks ago and I spoke to the UN General Assembly, well, about six members thereof. And you know something, not everyone looked stupefied by my monotone. Now what I am doing is lecturing all governments around the world to listen to what a pip squeak second tier economic outhouse like Australia thinks should happen to save the world.

AUDIENCE: Hi my name is Kate Ellis and I like think you’re so totally mature and all, but like my concern is the money that you’re handing out – my concern is that it’s not enough to stimulate our economic state … or it is enough? … oh (expletive) I can’t remember the (expletive) question … can I start again (inaudible)?

PM: It’s okay, I understand exactly what you’re saying. Nobody else does Kate, but I do. You know folks, it’s like that scene in The Shipping News where you can’t understand a word Cate Blanchett’s whispering to Kevin Spacey in the blizzard.

Well Kate, you asked about stimulation, about how I arouse and entice growth. In creating this type of stimulation there are two options. You can wait until it’s too late, you can wait several months time or in early next year then turn around and say, ‘oh gee, I’ve got a problem with growth, what am I going to do about it?’ History tells me these things – the best thing you can do is act early, act decisively, and act hard and see if that stimulates your gross domestic product.

Part two will come when my big project comes to unfold by the bottom end of the year with my infrastructure due to flow for years onwards. Does that do it for you Ms Ellis?

AUDIENCE: (Inaudible)

AUDIENCE: Mr Rudd, my name is John Murphy and with my wife we have a family kids, parliamentary income, and a healthy mortgage to go with it. And, when we were given the opportunity to come in and speak with you, we sat around our kitchen table and we tried to work out what works for us and what doesn’t. And one of the things that’s a major issue is my wife says the beef stroganoff’s too small –

PM: You know, I could give you the very populist answer and the very populist answer to that would be to say ‘you and that caribou of complaints should p-ss off now’. But I can’t. And I just want to level with you.

And that is, when you’re dealing with something as complex as a politicians f-cking up in public, as the Prime Minister of this country, for goodness knows how short or how long, my job and the government’s is to make sure that we stay away from petty scandal and maladministration. And that means making sure that those decisions are being taken in a conservative way across a spread of years so that when you do retire there is a reasonable chance that history will turn you into something akin to The Aviator . But I tell you, it’s tough on the way through, it really is. Can I just tell you how tough it is out there …

(14,564 words edited out)

So in terms of the actual family budget, the beef on the table, you’re dead right. The feedback I get across the country is that people are really finding it tough to make ends meat. What we’re trying to do is help on the economic front. Other measures in the future are possible, anything’s possible – hell, didn’t Russell Crowe invest in South Sydney?

AUDIENCE: Russell Crowe’s my name –

PM: We all have our problems.

AUDIENCE: Huh? I understand budgeting and cost cutting and how to get things done. Years of being told what to wear, say and do has made me think – instead of giving $10 billion of whatever to just a few, why not just give every Australian a million dollars. $25 mill tops would solve your recession –

PM: That’s a really good one, dingleberry, thanks for that idea.

Peter Fray

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