Judith Ireland June 19, 2012
Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Los Cabos, Mexico. Photo: AP
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has denied that she was the subject of high-level criticism for lecturing European economies at the G20 Summit in Mexico.
Ms Gillard said comments by European Union Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso that he had not come to Mexico to “receive lessons” were aimed at North America, not her.
Since arriving in the resort city of Los Cabos, Ms Gillard has warned Europe that they need to get their act together as Australia is not a disinterested bystander.
''We do, of course, directly trade with Europe, but - far more significantly - our major trading partners in our region export to Europe, and so what matters to Europe matters to them, and therefore matters to Australia’s ability to export our goods to those nations,’’ she said.
She has also flagged publicly that she would be telling European economies to focus on fiscal integration.
''Particularly, I’ll be saying that they need to be focusing on further banking and fiscal integration in Europe, that they need to be working on the strengthening of stressed banks, and thirdly they need to be focusing on growth,” she said.
Yesterday, Mr Barroso appeared to bristle at Ms Gillard’s comments.
''Frankly, we are not coming here to receive lessons in terms of democracy or in terms of how to handle the economy,” he told a Canadian reporter.
''By the way this crisis was not originated in Europe. We are not the only ones that are so-called responsible for the current economic problems all over the world.''
But Ms Gillard told reporters that Mr Barroso was surprised his comments had been picked up by Australian media, as they were directed at North America.
She said she and the European leader had shared a laugh about the mix-up and Mr Barosso had not given her any negative feedback.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, however, has criticised Ms Gillard for her heavy-handed approach in Mexico.
Mr Abbott said today that Ms Gillard did not have the economic credentials to lecture G20 leaders about their economies.
"A government that has delivered the four biggest deficits in Australian history hardly has the credentials to lecture the G20," he said.
- With Paul McGeough