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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) WorkChoices and getting fairness and balance into

Australian workplaces. The

Deputy Prime Minister Julia

Gillard speaking there on radio national this morning. And

calling on the opposition to in

her words honour the government's mandate.

Returning to the governments

attempts now to crack down on

golden handshakes and

opposition finance spokeswoman

Senator Helen Coonan joins us from Canberra. Good morning. Thank you for joining us.

Thank you. First of all the

opposition's response to what

the government would like to do

which is limit those golding

parachutes, those payouts to

one year of an executive's base

pay before then. It has to get

shareholder approval. What's

your thoughts on this? The

understood principal is that we have

understood and started talking

about last November I think or

ocertainly last December, that

there needed to be some steps

taken in relation to what were

seen to be large executive

payouts, so we are concerned to

ensure that shareholders are

empowered and we think that it is appropriate that

shareholders who are the

ultimately the beneficiaries of

and bear the risk of a

company's performance, should

have some say in executive

payouts. That is basically

what we were advocating in a

slightly different form of

course but that in principal

was what we have been pushing

for since last year. Yes, I

think Malcolm Turnbull wanted

to see shareholders votes on

salaries were binding. Yes, I think that's right.

think that's right. And the

reasoning behind it is that the

shareholders are the ones who

are best placed to decide if

they want to pay, for example,

some premium for performance,

we think that what has been

missing out of this whole

debate is some ability for

shareholders to actually get

their vote to count. So that

they are able to say if they

performed well think that executives have

performed well or if they have

met criteria or benchmark s and

the shareholders die they want

to pay out a large amount that

seems to be a very different

thing to having a very large

amount foisted on hapless

shareholders when the broader

community is aghast at what

payouts in some instances. seems to be egregiously large

Before we get to look at some of the pitfalls

of the pitfalls and problems

with the idea, just quickly the

dimensions, the size if you

like of what the government has

proposed. Does that look about

right to you? One year's

salary before the shareholders

get involved? Well, look,

that's fairly arbitrary figure.

Do think we have to be careful

that you don't end up placing

limits on a company's ability

to attract the best talent and

to attract the best talent and

the ultimate indicator I think

of whether or not somebody

should be paid a lot of money

is whether they perform well

and deliver for their

shareholders. So that's an arbitrary figure that's been

difficulties with it but chosen. It could be

obviously it is moving in the

right direction. It following lodge oically that for those companies that would like to

get around it they will be able

to and they will be advised I

am sure by some very

am sure by some very

high-flying lawyers you will be

able to increase your rate so

if uro base rate is that high

it doesn't really matter. Do

you have concerns about that?

What should be put in place?

We need to see what the legislation will actually say.

You are quite right, bitter

experience tells you that

clever people. Particularly

with Telstra on your part I should

should think. People can

always find ways around - or

look for loopholes and we try

very hard as legislators to

make laws as water tight as we

possibly can. So rather than

speculating about that I think

we should see what the

legislation will provide.

There is another point about

this though, that there is a

review as well. Yes. We are

surprised that wasn't

undertaken last year. And some

have of the more curly bits might

have gone off to the review I

think Virginia. It is always

easier to reach for a review

than actually confront what are

very difficult questions but I

think the government is going

to have to get its head around,

as you quite rightly point out

the very difficult parts of

making this work. On

manications we have seen over -

many occasions we have seen

over the last 12 months the

opposition start out when are presented with government

presented with government

policy saying "it seems fair

enough and we might be looking

at supporting this" and then

gradually change its mind. We

have seen this in particular in

relation to industrial

relations where your leader

said the government had a true

mandate now your strong

opposition in the Senate. Why

is that? Why can you not seem

to maintain a degree of

consistency here? Well what is

consistent is taking a point of

principal and that's precisely

what we have done. We have

said all along that we

recognise the government's

mandate. What then happened

is... Do you really? Well,

just let me finish Virginia.

What then happens is you

actually get legislation and to

use that much tried expression,

the devil is in the detail and

you actually find that the

mandate has been pushed beyond

the mandate so that in a number

of instances there were grave

concerns that this bill in its

original form exceeded the

mandate and secondly would

actually destroy jobs. That's

what we were all about. Making

disincentives to the creation sure that there are no

and maintenance of jobs.

People are having a bad enough

time as it is without having

foist on them some more laws

and changes to the way in which

they can employ people who run

their businesses. That will

actually end up hurting

employees, so what we have

concentrated on is where the

so-called mandate has been

exceeded. There appears to

have been some progress made in

relation to some of the

amendments relating to what we

would say is exceeding the

mandate. And we will be

working through together with

the independents and the

Greens, and the government,

today we will be working all day on the

day on the legislation and on

those particular pieces that we

say exceeded the mandate. So

if you perhaps split the

difference between you and the

government on the issue of the

five extra employees that may

or may not constitute a small

workplace, 15 versus 20, and

made it I don't know something like 17 - do you think you

might be able to get agreement

then? Virginia, perhaps you

should come and give us a hand

should come and give us a hand

with your negotiating

abilities. Sounds like you

need it. But we will be

working through this today. So

by the end of today probably

later tonight we will have firm

positions in relation to amendments because of course it

is not just the opposition, the

Greens and Senator Xenophon and

Senator Fielding have got very

firm views and they have their

own way of expressing what

own way of expressing what they

think is their constituents

best interests as well. Good