Sunday, 17 June 2012

Gillard urges action at G20

Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer, AAP 
Updated June 18, 2012, 5:30 am

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has touched down in Mexico ahead of the G20 leaders' summit, which comes as all eyes are on the election results in Greece.

As the PM landed amid tight security across the tourist hub of Los Cabos, early results were showing a likely win for Greece's pro-bailout conservative New Democracy, in coalition with centre-left party Pasok and others.

"Whilst the Australian economy is strong, this meeting of the G20 comes at a time when yet again all eyes are on Greece and we see a faltering economy in Europe," Ms Gillard told reporters in Los Cabos.

"What happens in Europe does matter to the economy of Australia because Europe is the single biggest economic zone in the world."

Ms Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan have written an open letter to G20 leaders spelling out their concerns about Europe.

"I will be saying to my European counterparts they need to be focusing on further banking and fiscal integration in Europe, they need to be working on the recapitalisation of distressed banks and ... focusing on growth," she said.

The federal budget took a cautious approach to the European economic situation, forecasting growth there to contract by 0.75 per cent this year.

Road travel around Los Cabos, including the PM's trip from the airport, has been held up all morning after a police van went over a cliff, reportedly injuring a number of people and closing off lanes of the main road.

The prime minister will address a business leaders' meeting on the sidelines of the summit on Sunday afternoon.

Plans are under way for festivities across Los Cabos on Sunday night, including a fireworks display and beach concert.

A security crackdown has begun in Los Cabos, with thousands of soldiers and federal police patrolling streets and manning checkpoints.

The summit will start on Monday and wrap up with a communique on Tuesday evening.

Ms Gillard told reporters she believed fiscal consolidation was "not enough".

"Ultimately the answer to this economic crisis is growth. It is growth that enables you to keep jobs and investment ... and put your budget on a sustainable footing," she said.

The prime minister said she would be pushing for each G20 nation to commit to specific action plans on jobs and growth.

She will also speak out against trade protectionism and breaking down regulation between nations.

"A stronger and more resilient global economy is in Australia's interests," she said.

Ms Gillard said senior officials had told her that the letter she wrote had become a "talking point" among other leaders.

She said she wanted to see other nations make renewed commitments to the International Monetary Fund, as Australia had done at last year's G20 summit in Cannes.

Ms Gillard said she would not be making an announcement about Australia's host city for the 2014 G20 while she is in Mexico.

"You will have an announcement on that in coming weeks," she said.

The prime minister declined to comment on the latest Galaxy poll, which showed the coalition holding an election-winning lead.

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