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Transcript of doorstop interview: Parliament House, Canberra: 15 August 2006: Childhood obesity; David Hicks; defeat of John Howard’s appeasement Bill.
JULIA GILLARD M.P. Shadow Minister for Health Manager of Opposition Business
TRANSCRIPT DOORSTOP INTERVIEW 8:15AM TUESDAY 15 AUGUST 2006 PARLIAMENT HOUSE CANBERRA
ISSUES: Childhood obesity, David Hicks, defeat of John Howard’s appeasement Bill
JULIA GILLARD: Today’s newspapers reveal shocking new statistics on childhood obesity in Australia. Amazingly, Australia has the fastest rising rate of childhood obesity in the world.
Our rate is double that of the United States and triple the rate of the United Kingdom. With this amazing statistic, that we have the fastest growing rate of childhood obesity in the world, it is now time for the Howard Government to act.
There has been no national leadership on the obesity epidemic. This is the looming health crisis for this country for the 21st century. But the Minister for Health basically wanders around saying government doesn’t have a role and in the last Budget, despite there being money for many things, there was no new money for childhood obesity programs.
This isn’t good enough. Australia is going to reap the legacy of these childhood obesity statistics in 20 and 30 years time when we are battling a crippling burden of chronic disease. Because we all know childhood obesity tends to lead to obesity in adulthood which increases people’s rates of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many forms of preventable cancer.
So let’s get real with these new and shocking statistics and finally see the Howard Government get something done on the question of childhood obesity.
JOURNALIST: It is tough to level all the criticism at government isn’t it, it’s parents and families that should be…
JULIA GILLARD: This is a society wide issue. There is no doubt about that. It has taken us a number of generations to get to these shocking statistics and it will take a period of time to fix. It needs national leadership, it needs parents, schools and local
communities all playing their part but it is not the kind of issue the national government can just turn a blind eye to and say it is nothing to do with me.
JOURNALIST: There are suggestions that David Hicks could be back by the end of the year if the US don’t set up a new tribunal or charge him by December that Ruddock might seek his repatriation, would you welcome that?
JULIA GILLARD: Look I have seen those reports and obviously the aim has been for David Hicks to be properly tried. Obviously, if he has committed any offences then he should have a hearing about those matters and if he is guilty of any such offences, should be punished.
The issue for David Hicks has obviously been that he hasn’t been tried yet, over a 4 year period. Our Attorney General, Nicola Roxon has made constant statements about this issue. It has been a long time without him getting the opportunity of a fair trial.
JOURNALIST: It’s a substantial and somewhat surprising shift isn’t it in Government policy or in the Coalition’s policy?
JULIA GILLARD: It is a change of policy, if what Mr Ruddock is saying does come about, absolutely.
JOURNALIST: What did you make of, as an observer, in an area that you are quite familiar with the immigration portfolio, what did you make of the development of the last few days in terms of the Government having to pull it from the Senate?
JULIA GILLARD: Well this Bill was obviously always cobbled together to appease Indonesia. It wasn’t about good immigration policy, it was about appeasement.
I think members of the Howard Government understood that and had the courage to stand up to John Howard. That is why we saw the events of yesterday with the Bill being withdrawn. So it is a defeat for the Prime Minister, but this was about appeasing Indonesia. It was always a weak move by the Prime Minister and I believe it has been exposed as such.
JOURNALIST: Newspoll has the primary vote for Labor at 37 per cent, do you think that is an aberration or is it a sense the security and UK and issues like that might be involved?
JULIA GILLARD: As I always say, on these Tuesdays, poll numbers go up and they go down. There is no great significant in one fortnightly poll number. Obviously, this poll was taken in the shadow of the events in London which startled the world and would have startled Australians. But we don’t worry about fortnightly poll numbers, what we are doing is we are building for the next election.