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9am with David and Kim -

View in ParlView

DAVID: Unemployment at a 30 year low and inflation is sitting just above freezing, so its no
surprise the government claims Australians have never been wealthier. Nor is it any surprise the
Opposition is crying poor. The polls have the ALP so far in front you'd swear they were in a
different time zone. The politicians are on the hustings, kissing the dirt and god forbid, sniffing
timber. There must be an election looming.

KIM: What was that about? With the battle lines drawn, it's fast approaching that time when you
will decide who should lead us into the brave new world. To help spin the bottle, we're joined by
Deputy Labor Leader Julia Gillard. Good morning Julia.

JULIA: Good morning.

KIM: Good to see you.

DAVID: Good morning Julia. You must freak out when you see the front page of the Fairfax press and
you see your leader with his nose to timber. What's going on?

JULIA: He likes to have a close look, I think he was just having a close look at that piece of
timber. I'm really not sure...

KIM: No, he's definitely sniffing it.

[Laugh]

JULIA: You can get nice timber, wood, aromas, something like that.

DAVID: Is that the moment when you decided to yet again back the government in their policy on old
growth forests?

JULIA: No, Labor of course has been thinking about these policy issues since the last election.
There is of course a forest agreement that's been negotiated to make sure that there's an
appropriate balance between conservation and having some timber available for logging. And we've
backed those agreements in and Kevin went to Tasmania this week to announce that.

KIM: Julia, David just hinted at it then, but when you start looking at the number of things that
Labor has supported the Liberal Party on, the list is ever growing. It seems the main difference is
Work Choices, but that's about it.

JULIA: We're not in the business of arguing for arguing sake. I think one of the things that people
don't like about politicians - there's probably a few things they don't like - but one of the
things they don't like is the sense that if as soon as one side of politics says it's black the
other side has to say it's white. We don't want to be in that sort of artificial debate, we want to
be debating about the things that there are genuinely a difference about and if we see the Howard
Government do something we agree with, we'll say it. But we disagree profoundly on industrial
relations laws. We disagree on a whole series of things about the household economy; how people are
getting to manage the bills, the mortgages, the rent. And we disagree about many things about the
future of this nation, about the future of ...

DAVID: What about...?

JULIA: ... education, climate change.

DAVID: What about basic human rights, civil liberties? I mean, you've backed the Government on the
detention of Dr Haneef. I mean, why isn't the ALP crying bloody hell about that? What about, what
ever happened to the presumption of innocence in this country? Why is there not an effective
Opposition crying blue murder?

JULIA: Well we....

DAVID: What do you know that, what do you know, you've backed the government on this - you've
obviously - you could only back them if you'd seen the information that they claim that they've
got. Why isn't anyone telling the public about that information?

JULIA: Everybody - the government, and us - we're strong on terrorism, we want to keep this country
safe. Yes, there's a balance, when you put the laws in place - the terrorism laws - a balance
between keeping the country safe and not losing civil liberties that we hold dear. We don't want to
lose some things about our way of life that are precious to us. On...

KIM: Well, I think that's exactly the point. That's what people are saying, we are.

JULIA: On the Mr Haneef matter, it's very important to divide up the criminal matter from the
immigration law matter. On the immigration law matter, we've said we accept what the government has
said in the public domain in good faith. They were briefed by the Australian Federal Police. The
Opposition also gets briefed by the Australian Federal Police and we believe the Government's acted
in good faith in the immigration matter. On the criminal matter, of course that's a matter for the
courts and everybody is entitled to a presumption of innocence when they face a court case.

KIM: But the Labor Party's been accused of running a very polite, faux campaign at this stage, and
mearly being popular. I mean, it's easy to say, petrol prices are too high, there's not enough
childcare. That's easy to do.

JULIA: Well, it's important I think to be in touch with the issues that families are talking about.
I move around my electorate in Melbourne's West, I move around the country, and people come up and
say to me - look it's pretty tough. By the time we've paid the mortgage, by the time we pay the
rent - and a lot of families do rent. We know today from some new statistics releasedfrom the
Census that there are over a million Australians who pay more than a third of their income either
through the household mortgage or through rent. Then they've got the petrol, the childcare costs
and all the rest of it on top. So they're saying it's tough, we want to respond to that. It's no
magic solution, but we're going to have a Housing Summit tomorrow, to look for some solutions. We
also want to have rigorous price monitoring to make sure that people aren't getting ripped off when
they go to the petrol station and that there's good competition amongst the retail chains and
grocery prices.

KIM: Where do you want to change housing? Because the housing industry is doing particularly well.

JULIA: The housing industry's doing well, that's right, and we certainly see a lot of new housing
estates. But we know that the housing affordability challenge has never been harder than it is now.
If you've been outside the housing market looking at, how do I get that housing deposit together,
how do I get that affordable home, it's really tough. We're talking about things like a
tax-preferred savings vehicle, so if you're saving for your first housing deposit, you would get
some preferential tax treatment. We're talking about working with developers for tax incentives to
develop affordable housing...

KIM: But are they not state issues though?

JULIA: Well, there is a mix of state and federal issues here. Certainly state governments do land
release, they do planning matters, but the federal government also has a role and we think, when
there's something out there that is jeopardising the great Australian dream of home ownership, we
should be engaged in it.

DAVID: Do you think there might be a shift though? I mean the statistics this morning, surveyed by
the Australian Building and Construction Commission, says that construction costs are actually down
three per cent because there has been no significant unrest in the construction industry?

JULIA: It's good of course to see housing costs coming down in that sense. The ABCC is
predominantly looking at the big commercial buildings rather than domestic housing. But of course
we want to see price pressures down, we want to see productivity going up in all these industries,
in all of these settings. We want to make sure prices are as low as possible. But even with
efficiencies in construction, if you ask anybody - how are house prices going? You want to buy a
house in Melbourne, or Sydney, or Perth or wherever....

DAVID: Sure....

JULIA: ...we know that prices have gone up and that's very tough for people.

DAVID: The PM says that more people are in the market, I mean, that this is the price of
prosperity.

JULIA: If you're a home owner and you've seen the value of your home go up, you can be happy about
that. Often of course it's a notional gain, because if you're going to buy and sell in the same
market, the day you decide to sell your home and get another home you're going to pay more for that
home. But who gets the pressure from that? Well it's people who are outside the housing market now.
The young people, who are trying to get the deposit together for their first home. And lots of
people say to me, look, we own our home, or, we're well on our way to paying our home off, we're
alright but we're worried about our kids, how are they ever going to get into the housing market
with housing prices this high. And so we think that there's an issue we need to deal with as a
nation, for young Australians, for the people who are locked outside the housing market now. As
well as for those Australians who are feeling under real stress, paying bigger and bigger mortgage
repayments.

KIM: Alright, let's talk about the polls. The polls are interesting today I thought, because they
said that when it comes to the economy and security, Australians still trust John Howard. But they
like Kevin Rudd. Do they trust Kevin Rudd, do you think?

JULIA: I would hope that they do trust Kevin Rudd. If we look at the economy, some of the big
things in the economy are bipartisan, both political parties agree with them. We agree with keeping
the budget in surplus over the economic cycle, we agree the Reserve Bank should set interest rates
for example. But we think that there's a set of things about the household economy, about the
things that happen around the kitchen table, where we can make a difference. And we would certainly
be making a difference on security at work, the industrial relations legislation. We don't want
people who are already under pressure paying the bills, being at risk of walking into work and
having pay and conditions taken off them or being unfairly dismissed. So we can make a difference
there. On national security of course, we're tough on terrorism, but we've got a difference with
the Government about Iraq, we've always opposed the deployment there, and we think we should be
bringing the troops back. We should be doing that in an orderly fashion, but we should be bringing
the troops back from Iraq.

KIM: Given your at times, let's say at times, acrimonious relationship with Kevin Rudd, do you
trust him?

JULIA: Absolutely.

KIM: Do you trust him to always do the right thing in terms of your relationship?

JULIA: Oh yes of course. Kevin's out there, he's focused, he's got a vision for the country. I
think he's out there putting the things that matter for today around that kitchen table, but will
matter for the next 20 or 30 years; a vision about climate change, about future prosperity, about
education and opportunity for kids. I share that vision and so we're working on it together and
we're working on it focused on the next election, but also focused on the years beyond. You don't
just run around in politics for the sake of running around in politics, you're in politics because
you want to make a difference.

KIM: The reason why I ask the question is because there's been so much attention on the recent
biography of John Howard and the relationship between Costello and Mr Howard. And I'm wondering
whether your relationship with Kevin Rudd would stand up under the same scrutiny?

JULIA: We were actually at a dinner in Melbourne last night, where I introduced Kevin and I was
joking that if they were writing about us, they would write of the many occasions that we've eaten
take-away, hunched over our documents as we've worked through things. They'd write of the many
occasions I've been to Kevin's home in Brisbane, where the family's cooked and I've had a meal with
them. What they wouldn't be able to write is Kevin coming to my house, because I am such a hopeless
cook I wouldn't put him through it. I'd be there with the 2 minute noodles and I don't think that's
very good.

[Laugh]

DAVID: So is that...

KIM: ... So it's fair to say that socially, there's not a lot in common though? I mean, work-wise
there's plenty in common, but socially there's not a lot in common.

JULIA: I wouldn't say that. I've got to know Kevin well in this period, I know his family well, I
attended his daughter's wedding, we've actually caught up when we've been on holidays. So there are
layers to the relationship. Obviously, we are there working all day every day, working in a really
frenzied fashion, a relentless fashion, towards the next election, so we do a lot of work together.
But in the moments we get some respite, where you are just having an opportunity to sit around,
maybe have a glass of wine, have a laugh, have a social occasion with the family, then I certainly
share those events with Kevin too.

DAVID: Are you surprised by your lead in the polls, at this point? Does it worry you at all?

JULIA: [laughs] Well look the...

DAVID: Do you think, whoa, the horse has bolted, and there's still some time to go?

JULIA: When I look at the polls what I always think is they'll come and they'll go. If you're in
politics, you'll see polls go up, you'll see them go down, you'll see them go sideways, you'll see
analysis of them from all directions. The important thing is to say, well what's really happening
out there in the community? And I think in the community there is a mood for change, there is a
sense that this country needs a clearer vision for the future, that there are some big picture
issues that we aren't properly dealing with; educational opportunities for kids, climate change,
prosperity beyond the resources boom, housing. People want to hear answers on these questions. And
they will judge them on Election Day. And it will only really be on Election Day we'll know exactly
what the Australian community thinks about who should lead the nation in the next period.

DAVID: Can I just ask you - you've spoken a number of times this morning about the issues that
matter at the kitchen table. How do you drive petrol prices down? How do you drive grocery prices
down?

JULIA: On petrol prices, of course we can't do anything about the world oil price....

DAVID: So if they keep rising, how do you drive grocery prices down?

JULIA: The difference here is, we can't do anything about the world oil price, the globe sets that.
But there've been times when the world price has gone up and the price at the bowser in this
country has immediately gone up. There've been times when the world price has gone down, but the
price at our bowsers hasn't come down. And we say, if there's a cop on the beat, a Petrol Price
Commissioner, who is monitoring prices, he or she would be able to go in and say, hang on - if
world oil prices have gone down, you're always keen to put prices up when they go up, if they've
gone down, why aren't Australians getting the benefit of that? So to the extent there's price
gauging, which is the terminology used, we would be able to crack down on that. And it's the price
gauging - I think Australians understand that Australia doesn't set world oil prices, but they're
pretty annoyed when, you know, Easter Thursday petrol prices go up....

DAVID: Sure, the colluding. But the other side to the coin is, as petrol prices rise around the
world - and we've discussed this a lot on this program and we've had all sorts of experts in saying
that we're about to hit the spike - petrol should be a lot more expensive, given climate change and
the efforts to control that. How then do you keep grocery prices low?

JULIA: Well....

DAVID: Transportation prices will obviously, petrol prices will obviously drive grocery prices up.

JULIA: If we can get the price gauging out of it, that'll make a difference. Over the longer term,
we're going to have to move to greener vehicles in this country. We've got a five hundred million
dollar fund to encourage Australian vehicle manufacturers to move to greener vehicles. At the
moment, if you or I decided we're going to buy a new car, we want a green car, we want a car that's
going to do the right thing by the environment, we can't buy an Australian made one.

DAVID: Hmmm.

JULIA: I like to drive an Australian made motor vehicle. I live very close to the Toyota factory, I
drive a Toyota. But if I had the choice, I would drive a greener vehicle, made in this country. And
I think many Australians would make that choice too if it was available. So let's get greener cars,
the greener trucks on the road - that'll make a difference. Then on grocery prices, we want to make
sure that there's red-hot competition. That you know where the best prices are, that they're
monitored, that we have an inquiry....

DAVID: Can't you do that now though? Doesn't the Bureau of Statistics release a quarter account? So
you know in all the capital cities where the cheap prices are?

JULIA: We would like to see there being continuous surveillance, so you always know - obviously you
don't do your shopping once every quarter....

KIM: Wouldn't it....

JULIA: ...you might do it two or three times a week and you need to know what the prices are then. We
also want to...

KIM: Are you saying the ACCC is not going its job then? Because I thought it was the ACCC's job to
monitor petrol prices.

JULIA: The ACCC can only do the job the government sets it. In 1998...

KIM: So it's ineffectual?

JULIA: It's not the ACCC's fault that in 1998 the Government put the muzzle on it and actually
reduced its ability to monitor petrol prices. Now the Government, because we're in the shadow of
the election, has made some announcements about giving those powers back. But we want the ACCC to
be there all day, every day, with the full powers it needs. We want it to be resourced to do the
sort of grocery price surveillance I'm talking about. And we want to have an inquiry because
there's obviously something going on when you and I can go to the shops and spend a lot of money
buying groceries, but you talk to farmers at farm gates...

DAVID: ...Yeah.

JULIA: ... and they say, we're not getting it. So we want to talk about what's happening in the
grocery chain.

KIM: Alright, we're out of time, but just quickly - it's the Prime Minister's birthday tomorrow,
what have you got in mind to send him?

JULIA: [Laughs] Well...

DAVID: Do you? Do you send him a gift?

JULIA: I'd have to confess I don't routinely send him a gift and I've never received one from the
Prime Minister on my birthday, so I think we're even. He's going to be a grandfather. I would be
hoping after the next election, that he's got a lot more time on his hands...

[Laugh]

JULIA: ...So I'd be happy to send him a big suite of children's books. So at the right point he can
play granddad and do the reading to kids'.

KIM: How nice, how fun. I thought you were going to say non-slip boots!

JULIA: No, no I wouldn't say that. I'm way too clumsy to criticise anyone else for slipping over!

DAVID: Gee, he bounced back though didn't he? He's very sprightly for sixty-eight.

KIM: I know, he looked very healthy, didn't he, when he jumped back up.

DAVID: Julia, lovely to see you again, thank you for your time this morning.

KIM: Thanks so much.

JULIA: Thanks a lot.