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Julia Gillard joins Insiders -

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Julia Gillard joins Insiders

Broadcast: 23/11/2008

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard joins Insiders to discuss the first year in power for the Rudd
Government.

BARRIE CASSIDY, PRESENTER: Now to our studio guest Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and to take
us there, here's the leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull reflecting on the first year of the
Rudd Government.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, FEDERAL OPPOSITION LEADER (at press conference): Throughout his year in office Mr
Rudd has had a political strategy but no economic strategy. Everything has been focused on the
grand gesture, the headline.

We had Mr Swan and Mr Rudd talking up inflation. They egged on the Reserve Bank to put up interest
rates at precisely the wrong time.

We've seen it with the bank deposit guarantees. You've seen it with the absurd FuelWatch scheme.

There's a long list. It has been a Government of spin. It's not been a Government of substance.
They've got to get off the politics and the spin and focus on solid economic management. That's
what Australia needs, real leadership.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Julia Gillard, good morning, welcome.

JULIA GILLARD, ACTING PRIME MINISTER: Good morning Barrie.

BARRIE CASSIDY: What do you say to that question - symbols over substance?

JULIA GILLARD: Well, I'd say you'd expect Malcolm Turnbull to say that. He's the leader of the
Opposition. He's a clever politician.

But this is a Government that has delivered on its promises. We believed I was very important to
rebuild faith in government by doing what we promised after the Howard era of core and non-core
promises. We've done what we said we were going to do.

And then of course we've put in place the long term foundations for reform. Now these haven't been
easy jobs. They've been made harder by the global financial crisis but we've stayed on track.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But in the time available in what way have you substantially changed the country?

JULIA GILLARD: Well I think if you look back to the earliest days of this Government we ratified
Kyoto and ended the decade of climate change denial and inaction that characterised the Liberal
Party. We finally apologised to the Stolen Generations of Indigenous Australians and we've set up a
new system, Jenny Macklin leading it, of working with Indigenous Australia for real results. We've
ended the making of Australian Workplace Agreements, the most hated part of WorkChoices. And we
delivered in the May budget a $55 billion to support families including tax cuts, new money into
the childcare tax rebate to lift the burden of fees.

Since the global financial crisis has come along obviously we've done everything we can to stay in
front and to keep this economy growing.

BARRIE CASSIDY: And that has changed so much. Do you now see that not only will you have that
challenge to deal with into the future but it will frustrate your efforts to bring about the
reforms that you talk about?

JULIA GILLARD: Well this is a Government that's always been very clear on its priorities. We've
said that we wanted to invest in an education revolution, that that was important to the chance of
every child in this nation, but also important to long term prosperity. And we wanted to invest in
the things that families rely on, in health services for example. As we move into the council of
Australian governments next weekend we will be pursuing those priorities.

In my own area of education I've consistently said there's nothing more important to a child's
education than the quality of the teacher in front of the classroom and that's why we're going to
bring new money, new investments into quality teaching.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But something has to give. Things have changed.

JULIA GILLARD: Well, we've had $40 billion knocked out of our revenues and we've been clear with
the States, clear with the Australian nation that that's going to have an effect. What that means
is you've got to be even more focused on your priorities and making smart investments there. That's
what we intend to do. That's what our investments in teacher quality are about, you know, picking
the absolute pivot point that makes a difference for a child's education, the quality of the
teacher standing in front of the class.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But one of your own suggested that calling it a revolution is a bit rich. Where are
you going to put the priorities? I think the industry is still waiting. Is it going to be in
primary, secondary, tertiary? Where will you start?

JULIA GILLARD: Well we've already invested, let's remember that: computers into schools - 116,000
of them; money made available to start getting computers to kids; $90-million into new trades
training centres; steps being taken forward on a new national curriculum.

Where do we go from here? Well I'd like to see us next Saturday at the Council of Australian
Governments put new investment into teacher quality, new investment into disadvantaged schools.
Then next year we will respond to the Bradley Review into higher education and be shaping the
future of both universities and vocational education and training in this country.

BARRIE CASSIDY: So teachers are the priority?

JULIA GILLARD: Well quality teaching is the thing that makes the biggest difference to a child's
learning outcomes. The evidence right around the world would tell you, you can't have a better
education system than the quality of the teachers who teach in it. If you want to lift quality you
need to lift teacher quality.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Now paid maternity leave - I'm sure there are a lot of people urging you to make
sure that doesn't fall off the table?

JULIA GILLARD: Well we've investigated obviously paid maternity leave. We promised at the election
we'd get the Productivity Commission to look at it. They have and their process is still in train
for finalisation. We've said that we will look at the final results and they will need to be
weighed in the budget process.

Yes these are difficult days. Government revenues had a $40 billion hole punched in them because of
the global financial crisis. It will require us to be very concentrated on the key priorities. Paid
maternity leave is something we believe is important but we will look at the final Productivity
Commission report and we will weigh it in the budget process.

BARRIE CASSIDY: So when I suggest something has to give it might be paid maternity leave and you
introduce that when you can afford it and not before?

JULIA GILLARD: Well Barrie, it's going to be a difficult budget circumstance. We deliberately
created a big surplus in the May Budget so we would have money to invest if necessary and it's been
necessary.

We've seen the biggest financial crisis possibly since the Great Depression. We've seen economies
around the world moving into recession. We've used some of that money, $10.4-billion to help this
economy stay in front. We're committed to looking at fast tracking infrastructure and making
announcements in December.

Come next May Budget we will be focused on key priorities. Obviously we want to be in the business
of looking at paid maternity leave. That's why we had the Productivity Commission report on it. But
we will deal with the final priority setting in the Budget. It's the only responsible thing to do.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Now do you think Kevin Rudd is getting the best out of his team or should he heed
Bob Hawke's advice and set some of them free?

JULIA GILLARD: I think Kevin is getting the best out of his team. He has made some generous
comments about the team during the course of some interviews on the one year anniversary. I think
the team has worked well together and worked well together supporting him.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Do you feel you have all the freedom you need?

JULIA GILLARD: Well we necessarily have collegiate processes and so we should but ministers, day to
day, are there getting on with the job, delivering the promises, building the foundations of long
term reform, taking their ideas the Cabinet table where they are worked through. And I think the
team has responded well to moving from Opposition into Government and they've got on with the job
that we've asked them to do - deliver the promises, build the foundations of long term reform.

BARRIE CASSIDY: So would you say at the end of the first year a reshuffle is the furthest thing
from his mind?

JULIA GILLARD: I think it is the furthest thing from his mind and he has been very clear, there
will be no reshuffle.

BARRIE CASSIDY: And that runs to Wayne Swan of course who has got the toughest job of all?

JULIA GILLARD: Well what the Prime Minister has said, some reshuffle speculation for whatever
reason has come into the media about the potential of a reshuffle over the Christmas period and the
Prime Minister has ruled that out.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Okay, some more immediate issues. Can you understand that a lot of parents are
worried that they haven't been able to lock in their childcare arrangements for next year?

JULIA GILLARD: Oh I can absolutely under that. The ABC Learning situation I think has made mums and
dads around the country very anxious. They rely on child care to go to work.

We provided stability for them by making available to the receiver up to $22 million so they knew
exactly what would happen until the 31st of December this year; that is they'd still be able to get
the childcare they needed. The receiver and my team, who are working with the receiver, are working
as hard as they can and the receiver is working as hard as he can to make an announcement about
2009 as soon as possible.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But what sort of shape can that taking go into next year?

JULIA GILLARD: Well the receiver has been clear that he's had to work through this centre by centre
and when he makes the announcement, which he is working on to make as soon as possible with my team
working alongside him, he will be clarifying the future of centres for mums and dads.

BARRIE CASSIDY: You do seem to be suggesting that the Federal Government will manage the sector
more tightly in the future. Is that one of the lessons and how do you do that when it's essentially
a State responsibility anyway?

JULIA GILLARD: Well what I've said, and I absolutely believe, is the Liberal government made a
major error in uncapping the number of childcare places and then letting the market rip.

Now the error wasn't in uncapping places. Mums and dads needed childcare for their children. The
problem was letting the market rip so they had no quality plan, no work force plan, no plan to
bring childcare centres to places without them, no way of managing this market.

Now every day since we've been elected to Government we've been building those things in childcare
- a new quality plan; working with States and territories; bringing accreditation and licensing
together so they work together; a new work force plan; a new plan to bring childcare centres to
where they're needed.

Following the ABC collapse obviously we're going to look at further measures necessary in childcare
and my colleague Chris Bowen has pointed out that our moves on creeping acquisitions would have
made a difference in terms of this big consolidation of the childcare system into the hands of one
company.

BARRIE CASSIDY: So you don't think it will get worse?

JULIA GILLARD: Well ABC Learning obviously has had the voluntary administration problem. A company
associated in a transaction with ABC Learning, CFK has had a problem. But right around this country
childcare centres are run by people - some of them seeking to earn a profit, some of them
representatives of community organisations that don't seek to make a profit - and they run
perfectly viable, perfectly stable childcare centres that will be there in five and 10 years' time.

So there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the childcare model in that sense. You can run a
stable viable quality centre. ABC Learning got into difficulties and it's caused associated
difficulties for CFK.

BARRIE CASSIDY: On industrial relations and unions are running television advertisements from today
critical of your new laws. Here is part of one of those advertisements which features a retired
judge, Rod Madgwick.

(Excerpt from advertisement):

ROD MADGWICK, RETIRED SENIOR JUDGE: Unfortunately not all Australian workers are equal before the
law. Construction workers are subject to industrial laws such as we have never before seen in this
country. They can be fined up to $22,000 for stopping work and jailed for up to six months for
refusing to answer questions about a workplace meeting. One law for construction workers, another
law for everybody else.

(End of excerpt)

BARRIE CASSIDY: So as they see it, the Australian Building and Construction Commission imposes laws
and regulations and standards on them that don't apply anywhere else in the industry.

JULIA GILLARD: Well can I say this about workplace relations generally? We promised to sweep
WorkChoices away and we will and I can confirm the legislation to do that will be introduced into
the Parliament on Tuesday, so it's a short 48 hours away. And that will deliver on the promises we
gave the Australian people in our Forward With Fairness policy document.

BARRIE CASSIDY: So you hope to get that through in the next fortnight?

JULIA GILLARD: Well we hope to get it through the House of Representatives in the next fortnight
then inevitably there will be a Senate committee process and we will be asking the Senate to deal
with that expeditiously and to deal with the legislation in February next year.

Then on the ABCC, the Building and Construction Commission, we said in our policy document Forward
With Fairness that we would have a measured process for change, that we would abolish the ABCC on
the 31st of January 2010. It would be replaced by a new inspectorate in our new industrial umpire,
Fair Work Australia, and we would have a consultative process on that change. We're having that and
we have a retired judge, Murray Wilcox, who is leading that process.

BARRIE CASSIDY: And you wouldn't have left it in place for all of this time if you didn't believe
construction workers actually brought this on themselves?

JULIA GILLARD: Well we've been very clear that whatever industry it is, people have to comply with
the law. The building industry can be a tough game. In the building industry we have said people
have to comply with the law. That's true of employers, of employees and of unions.

And we've said that there would always be a tough cop on the beat in building and construction.
That tough cop on the beat will be in our new specialist inspectorate in Fair Work Australia and
His Honour Murray Wilcox is working through the process with all industry stakeholders to design
the way in which that tough cop on the beat will work.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But in the meantime they are treated differently and in your view did they deserve
that status?

JULIA GILLARD: Well I've got no tolerance for unlawful conduct. And when I look at the building
industry I see problems on both sides. I meet building workers who have not got their
superannuation or not got proper payments when they were due them so there is a problem with
employers not complying the law. Of course there has been problems from time to time with unlawful
industrial conduct by employees.

And the message is a simple one to everybody in the industry - the law is the law; everybody must
comply with it and there is no tolerance for noncompliance.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Okay, I think at the latest count by the time tomorrow rolls around you will have
been Acting Prime Minister for 69 days. Is that a pattern that will be repeated year in and year
out while Kevin Rudd is Prime Minister?

JULIA GILLARD: Well I'm glad you've added it up, Barrie, because I haven't. But obviously the Prime
Minister this year has travelled overseas on very important missions. The one that he's on now at
APEC obviously will be around a set of discussions about the global financial crisis, about what
happened at G20, about the message for developed economies, about how we are going to deal with
this crisis together, including fiscal stimulus and better financial regulation. So these trips are
necessary and when the Prime Minister is away obviously it falls to me to mind the store.

BARRIE CASSIDY: And are you enjoying it?

JULIA GILLARD: Well, you know, I love the job I do day to day. I love doing the education and
workplace relations work. I love being Deputy Prime Minister and that gives me a set of
responsibilities and I'm happy the mind the store when the Prime Minister is away.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Thanks for joining us this morning.

JULIA GILLARD: Thanks Barrie.