Rudd says Chinese coronavirus quarantine measures ‘formidable by any global standard’ | ABC News


KARVELAS: We’ve seen a big jump in infections
and deaths in Wuhan, do you think the Chinese government has this situation under control? RUDD: Consistent with what I was just saying,
Patricia, the bottom-line is the scientific community, both in China and abroad, are still
seeking to come to grips with the exact nature of the virus itself. This leads to one side
the whole dilemma of developing an appropriate vaccine. Because of that inherent uncertainty,
they will be a question continuing about the ultimate success of the containment measures
being deployed by the Chinese government. Again, having said that,
the quarantine measures which the Chinese government has ruthlessly imposed across the
country are formidable by any global standard, and whatever criticisms you may level at the
Chinese government or party for a range of reasons, I don’t think anyone is challenging
the effectiveness and the Draconian nature of the quarantine arrangements that have been
put in place. KARVELAS: The outbreak is forecasted to wipe
a 0.5% off Australia’s GDP in the March quarter, how significant a hit is this to our economy
in your view? RUDD: I think it’s real. I’ve been saying
for quite some time now that there seems to have been some general complacency both in
this country and in other parts of the world about the potential economic impact of this
virus on our respective economies. You know the numbers as well as I do, Patricia. When
we looked at Sars, from memory the Chinese economy represented about 4% of global GDP,
now we’re looking at economy that’s approaching them teen % or 18% of GDP and rising. As a
consequence, its feed in factor to economies in the Asia-Pacific region, which are deeply
embedded in the Chinese economy, like our own, is huge. This has been I think and unfolding
reality for anyone with eyes to see for the last several weeks and
I think it’s been a bit late in coming in some of the final conclusions reached in Australia.
It’s real, it will be lasting and I doubt if we’re going to a full return to economic
normality in the Chinese economy until we get closer to midyear. KARVELAS: The Chinese economy took a big hit
from the trade war, it’s carrying a lot of that and now it’s up to shutdown for weeks.
What kind of fallout should be expect? You say until midyear, but what are the consequences
of that for the Chinese economy as well? RUDD: Well, if you look at the unfolding challenges
to Chinese growth in the last period of time, they kind of fall into three boxes: One, there’s
been what I’d describe as problems in China’s overall economic policy settings for the last
two years. A greater preferencing for the Chinese party and state over the private market
and entrepreneurs. As a result for a year or two now we’ve seen a slowing in private
fixed capital investment in China. Then you roll in on top of that the material impact
and the confidence impact of the trade war which began 18 months ago, for which we’ve
had a phase one agreement signed in Washington last month, but still protections are in place
through tariffs and most of the US-China trade, and we still have a very uncertain trajectory
for phase two of that overall trade dispute. Thirdly we’ve got coronavirus. If you put
all these things together, the economic authorities in Beijing are deeply concerned about the
real impact on Chinese growth. There were signs of small recovery in China in late December,
then coronavirus hit and we are now in a deeply serious situation again. I think we should
steal ourselves for seriously negative numbers building on Sars, let me finish on this, Tricia,
what happened with Sars is once it hit and the economy took a huge hit in the first part
of 2003, there was a big recovery in the second half aided by a huge level of Chinese government
stimulus. I think that’s what’s going to happen this year. First half, bleak, and the second
half you will see the throttle being put to the floor. KARVELAS: In the early weeks we saw relatively
free reporting on the outbreak, and it has since emerged doctors trying to raise the
alarm were silenced. How open do you think Beijing has been with the world after those
reports? RUDD: To be honest, Patricia, it’s impossible
to tell. You just referred to the tragic death from the coronavirus of doctor Were Lang Lang,
the young 34-year-old physician at the hospital in Wuhan, the centre of this virus outbreak
— Doctor Li Wenliang. Looking at the case with himself, before he died he photographed
the chargesheet he had been given by the local security authorities for daring to speak out
and spread rumours. The frankly that has set off what I would describe as a social media
riot in China itself through the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, called Weibo. There saying this
guy was doing his job and he got crushed locally, and on the way through he caught the virus
and now he is dead. That’s the case study that has focused the minds of people at home
and abroad of transparency of data. In all confidence I can’t externally tell you how
good and reliable the data is we are seeing from the Chinese authorities today. It’s not
in their interests, however, alternately to lie about this because something like a virus
with a significant more mortality rate ultimately produces its own evidence on the streets. KARVELAS: Finally on that theme before we
move on, are you worried about a rise in xenophobia and racism towards Chinese people? Particularly
here, we’re talking about our domestic framework, in Australia as well? RUDD: I am, but what’s worried me so far about
the Australian government response, as I’ve seen it, to be quite honest, is this: This
virus became, as it were, a central feature of international news from some time in the
middle of January. So far, we’ve seen very few expressions of genuine solidarity, sympathy
and support from the Australian government to the Chinese people because first and foremost,
whatever we think of China’s political ideology, this is a humanitarian crisis of massive proportions
and that doesn’t help when people frankly in China itself are fearing for their lives
in human safety. Put yourself in the minds of a family in Wuhan today dealing with day-to-day
lockdown and uncertainty. The second thing I’d say is when you look around the world,
and it’s not just here in Australia, I have seen some evidence and stories have been reported
to me of what are plainly racist reactions against Chinese people themselves. I don’t
think that helps in any way deal with the objective
challenge of the virus, let alone does it help in terms of preserving the social fabric
in a country such as ours, which, remember, has been very happy to take tens of billions
of dollars in export revenue from visiting Chinese tourists and visiting Chinese students
for the better part of a decade now. KARVELAS: Are you concerned about the treatment
of Chinese students? There were reports about Border Force and some rough treatment at the
start of the ban, are you concerned about those stories and the ramifications for that
industry? RUDD: Well, I’m always concerned about anything
Minister Dutton puts his hands to, to be quite honest, and Minister Dutton has had a long
history of frankly dealing with race related questions in Australia with less than what
I described as appropriate sensitivity, whether it’s on Indigenous matters or whether it’s
on questions concerning ethnic minorities in this country. I suppose the question I’d
like to hear Mr Dutton answer is simply this: If, for example, the dual-nationals we were
rescuing from this virus happen to be Brits or Americans, would he have been so quick
to lodge them on Christmas Island and into mining camps outside of Darwin? I don’t think
so because the bottom line is you could secure quarantine facilities and a range of other
places closer to, let’s say, civilisation in Australia. I’m always concerned when Mr
Dutton puts his hands to these questions. He’s always got Mrs Hanson and his constituency
in mind. KARVELAS: Would you have sent them to Christmas
Island? RUDD: I would have gone with the medical authorities,
I would have loved to see the list of options for Mr Dutton from the medical authorities
outlining where they could have been quarantined. I don’t object to quarantining, that would
be the professional advice I would assume from the medical authorities. I would be fully
compliant with the advice but I would like to the menu of options they were presented
with and why it was Mr Dutton chose these two options, and what he would have done had
we been dealing with white people with the virus as well. I will leave that and look
forward to his answer at some stage. KARVELAS: The US is stepping up freedom of
navigation exercises in the South China Sea, the senior US commander in the region told
Sky News he held talks with the Prime Minister. Should the government be In RUDD: if you are talking about freedom of
navigation operation the success of Australian governments has to been to support freedom
of navigation in all seas around the world. Because I am no longer in the Australian intelligence
loop or the Australian cabinet decision-making loop, I don’t know what request has been made
for what particular operations where. I would say this, yes I fully support freedom of navigation,
I fully support the concept of freedom of navigation operations, but I don’t know the
details surrounding these most recent operations by the Americans, it would be foolish of me
to comment. KARVELAS: On the debate we are having around
carbon credit and climate change in this country and internationally, you say some EU countries
are actively considering climate tariffs against Australia, which countries? RUDD: What I said recently the European Commission
was considering this, the entity which forms the administration in Brussels on behalf of
the entire European Union, I’m not pointing to a particular country, I know from my own
sources these are matters under act of consideration in Brussels at the look forward to the future
of the climate change action regime globally, and which countries are lifting their weight
and which are not, the world has concluded Australia under the Morrison Government, is
not lifting its weight one bit, why are they singling out Australia given the many countries
not on track to meet their targets. I have not proved the deepness of EU thinking on
the spot I was reflecting in that interview the other day was remarks I made for the committee
of economic development on Australia what I heard from Brussels itself. If I was to
speculate it would be to do with two things – the abysmally low greenhouse gas reduction
targets that the Australian government has committed itself to. Two, the spoiling role
which Australia played at the most recent Madrid meeting, the conference of the parties
on climate change in December last year. That spoiling role had a lot to do with what you
referred to before – unilateral decision by the Morrison Government to use so-called carbon
credits to reduce its effective future obligations. For your viewers, Patricia, a carbon credit
seeks to take over performance in the past on the modest targets we set for ourselves
over the previous decade, and overachievement during our period in office, and the Morrison
Government decision unilaterally to take those credits and apply them to the 2020,
2030. . Under the agreement stipulated for the Paris treaty. That is what the world objected
to because it is not what anybody else is doing. And if everybody else did that, you
would end up having very large-scale limiters drawing on 13
billion tons of carbon credit equivalent to apply to the new period, and the penitentiary
consequences of that would be appalling. — planetary. KARVELAS: There is a report the government
has been enjoying taunting Labor over, a meeting of the so-called Otis group, people like Joel
Fitzgibbon wanting to talk about coal, challenging Labor on the right not wanting to move to
the left, some of those names would be familiar to you, Don Farrell in particular given your
history and your own removal as Prime Minister. What do you make of that group meeting and
agitating on issues around coal. I know Anthony Albanese is a friend and ally of yours, should
he be watching his back? RUDD: I have to say, something is no longer
surprised me with Australian politics, hearing about this one in this interview is novel,
I don’t even know what the story is. KARVELAS: That is my fault, it is probably
healthy for you. It has been dominant here today it is worthy of asking, some of those
names, Don Farrell is a name familiar to you, I know some of these people you described
as baseless men meeting to talk about coal, it was seen as a way of pushing the party
on those issues, I know you have always argued Australia and the Labor Marty — party should
take strong action on climate change. Should Anthony Albanese you be worried? RUDD: The first point, I would make in all
honesty, I don’t know what the story is. Two, if there is a quote disunity question alive
here, let’s call a spade a spade. Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister of Australia
was turned out of office by his own party by the Morrison and Dutton mob over climate
change. That effected the highest office in the land stop secondly you see these extraordinary
splits emerging in the National Party, we are again climate change is the internal factor
at work. As Barnaby Joyce from climate change denial Central casting tries to reassert his
mediocre populist face into the centre space of Australian politics. They are the government,
the National has split, the Liberal Party has been split, you have seen Liberal Party
backbenchers from city areas breaking ranks with Morrison and his government over climate
change action, that is what I am familiar with, not who is having lunch or dinner at
a restaurant somewhere in Canberra. I don’t know anything about it. KARVELAS: Those dinners in Canberra. Yesterday
we saw the final Closing The Gap report under the strategy you put in place, just to have
the seven targets are on track. Why do you think progress has been so limited under successive
governments? RUDD: This is the reason I agreed to do the
interview, Patricia to talk about Closing The Gap. It is the 12th anniversary, I will
say a few things about something near to my heart. The key thing is this – of the targets
we have set, we are as you know on track to achieve targets on year 12 retention rates
for aboriginal kids. And also for preschool education for these. From indigenous communities
across the country. The other targets that have been set, even Morrison admitted yesterday,
we are better in terms of the measures and what has been achieved 12 years later then
we were back then but we have still fallen short of the targets we set. My first core
argument is this – what we have achieved any of this progress including the targets we
are on track to achieve if it wasn’t the national Closing The Gap strategy. That’s something
Mr Morrison glosses over. What I really worry about having just read Mr Morrison’s speech
from yesterday in Parliament on Closing The Gap, is what Mr Morrison is doing strikes
me as follows. He is delegitimising the targets in the Royal — original strategy saying they
are over ambitious, opposed by white fellows like me, when the reality is, we took the
whole idea of Closing The Gap from the 2005 report by Tom Calma the then social justice
commissioner for the aboriginal community. And these were not hugely ambitious targets,
hard giving the level of entrenched disadvantage we have seen in indigenous communities, if
you pull funds out of doing this stop Ince Abbott and his successors have done since
2013, it will be different it will be difficult to achieve the targets laid down in the first
place. KARVELAS: If you like the critique about the
ambitious strategy is unfair, one of the arguments he makes is it wasn’t developed with the equal
buy in of indigenous people, he says they should be at the table and that is part of
his overhaul. Do you think that is a fair critique pressman? RUDD: That is absolutely false. It is close
because Closing The Gap was based on 2005, a report, by Tom Calma, the then aboriginal
social justice Commissioner. Jenny Macklin, who became the Minister for Indigenous Affairs
then worked with the indigenous leaders to develop those targets. The key thing is this,
if you are going to achieve those outcomes, you must have long-term sustaining funded
programs. That was the case until 2013, the first Budget the Coalition bought in for 2014
wiped out half $1 billion of funding to the Closing The Gap strategy nationwide. You ask
me is this a problem of the targets? Or a problem of the programs to fund the targets.
We see a very clever piece of policy by a very clever politician Mr Morrison who has
learnt a lot from John Howard, which is delegitimise the Labor targets, say we will have new targets,
I suspect without as rigourous measures as we had in the past, that enables us to wriggle
out from under in terms of future funding commitments and accountability, and we will
flick past the rest of the states, I suspect it is the real strategy against the statement
yesterday.

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