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Meet The Press -

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This programme is captioned live.

Hello and welcome to Meet the Press. So, the campaign's on. Julia Gillard finally taking the drive
to Government House, just three weeks into her prime ministership, to call an election. And
promising, again, and again, to get Australia moving forward.

And for me that is about moving forward to a sustainable Australia, not a big Australia, moving
forward to a strong economy and getting the budget back to surplus. It certainly is not about going
back to Workchoices which Mr Abbott is all about.

Cutting off that attack, Tony Abbott began his campaign by nailing down the coffin on his former

No changes for the first term of an incoming Coalition Government. Absolutely no changes. Work
Choices is not just dead. Today I buried the body, having cremated it too.

Labor will run hard on its traditional strength - health.

We are putting significant investment, billions of dollars of extra money, into the health system
tied to reforming and improving services.

The Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon is our guest this morning. And with a new Galaxy
poll out this morning, pollster David Briggs joins us later to read the numbers. But first, what
the nation's papers are reporting this Sunday, July 18. Brisbane's Sunday Mail has the Galaxy poll
with Labor narrowly ahead, but the way Kevin Rudd was toppled does appear to be doing Labor damage
in the key state of Queensland. The Sunday Age reports former Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks is
considering an appeal to Barack Obama to get his terrorism conviction quashed. The Sunday
Herald-Sun reports a mixed reaction among bushfire survivors to news of the resignation of former
police chief Christine Nixon, after bruising revelations about her behaviour at the height of the
height of the fires. And welcome back to the program Health Minister Nicola Roxon. Good morning
Minister. Can you tell us, simply, how is my Can you tell us, simply, how is my health and the help
of Australians going to be better under Labor than it would be under the other lot?

It is very clear because we have been making investments which are making investments which are
already hitting the ground now. More elective surgery, if it is our More elective surgery, if it is
our opening, more investment, 50% investment in two hospitals, so we have more doctors and nurses
then we have ever had in the past, so we can see more patience and see them more quickly. And
provide higher quality care. We had GP super clinics being built across the country, providing
thousands of services particularly on weekends when people traditionally cannot get care from a GP.
The sort of things are making a difference already. There is a lot more to be done, but Tony Abbott
has said he done, but Tony Abbott has said he will cut all of those services. He does not want to
bring the health system into this century. Made much other people's records can be moved around
with patients as they move. It is really important to be able to continue with this reform work.
And Tony Abbott pulled money out the hospital 20 was health minister and he has already told us
that if he is Prime Minister, he will pull money out again.

You have set out to get national reform and WH is not part of that at the moment. Will you be able
to say that WA has moved in with the rest of the country?

I think it is unlikely by election day we will be able to say that. We are certainly continuing
negotiations. But the premier has made clear that he supports our health reforms. He supports the
content of the health reforms. He doesn't agree to our proposals to the GST and it has been a
stand-off for some time. The good news is that Prime Minister Gillard and the premier have both
said that they hope to reach agreement, their doors are open and the discussion will continue.
Realistically, it is difficult to see that hope -- see that happening with the election period.

We have a slightly absurd situation where you put up a situation where you put up a website,
Westerner Australia is not part of that. How long can Australia have a two-speed health Australia
have a two-speed health system?

This is a disadvantage for


This is a disadvantage for Western Australians. I think it is a shame for them to be outside the
national system. I respect that they have an elected government that has so far not agreed to be
part of the reform, but the website is a perfect example, we are giving patients information and
knowledge about their health system what is going to apply to every public hospital in the country,
except for those in WA. That means that Western Australians were no less about their health system
and will about their health system and will not be able to make this a national comparisons but
others well. That keeps pressure on our government at both levels, and an health professionals, and
it is a disadvantage, one of many, but about -- that they will suffer if they don't remain part of
the agreement. But we remain hopeful there'll be a resolution. It is difficult to foresee that
happening in the next couple of weeks.

You are Minister not only from health but also of ageing. As we age, have kids no expensive. The
Prime Minister has made it claimed -- plain that we are moving forward not way big population but
they are sustainable population. Isn't it your job to make the case to the people that if we're
going to pay for a were health costs as we get older, we are going to need more children, more
microbes, essentially a bigger population to broaden the tax base?

I think that the ageing population you're talking about is conscious we have to have a health
system that can cope with the pressures put on it. Which means we have to get the balance right of
being able to have a sustainable health system properly funded. And note we can do more outside of
our hospitals in more appropriate settings, closer to the Bulls homes.

But we need more younger people in order to pay for that over the decades ahead. Banda people means
a larger population. Way undue making that case?

What I am making the case for what the Prime Minister is making the case for is that we need to do
that in a sustainable way. Absolutely to ensure that our health services and education services, a
lot chance was services can cope with the future stresses on it. One of the key things 20 ever did
as health minister, he was a fix it man. He could fix a problem or a crisis which came up. But he
never took steps to fix something in advance of it being a problem. We are trying to get ahead of
the game and helped reform to plan for the ageing population. But also to plan for chronic
diseases. It is more expensive to look after a young person of a chronic disease than a healthy
older person. We have a whole lot of demographic -- demographic health issues which are demographic
health issues which are changing and we have to fix it. We have to grow and a sustainable way said
our services can keep up with the growth of population in the country.

And asylum seeker question - if we take asylum seekers, send them off to a new, regional processing
centre, are we responsible for the mental health issues of those people while they sit in an
offshore detention or processing centre?

Error complex mental health issues which have an effect, particularly for Refugees and often for
asylum seekers. Which are not in the same category. But if you detain people as we saw under the
Howard government, and we have taken steps to improve the health services...

So we are responsible for the mental health onshore or offshore?

Any arrangements we put in place that our government was contracting for part, we would ensure that
appropriate standards were in place as the people's health are not being is properly cared for.
That is an issue onshore or offshore. If Australia have a role to play, we want to put appropriate
protections in place to ensure that health services are available.

Coming up, when we're joined by the panel, selling health in the election campaign. Meanwhile, for
the PM, the perils of impersonators.

People are getting paid $5,000 dollars a gig to impersonate you. dollars a gig to impersonate you.

I think they're probably doing a Kath and Kim styled voice. I think they're probably doing a lot of
red hair.

This programme is captioned live.

You're on Meet the Press with Health Minister Nicola Roxon. And welcome to the panel, John Stanley
from 2UE and Fran Kelly from ABC Radio. Good morning John and Fran. In the last campaign, Tony
Abbott was Health Minister, but Nicola Roxon seemed to have his measure. Prompting his infamous
blow-up after he turned up late to their health debate at the National Press Club.

I could do an impersonation, my office tells me it's quite good.

We are in election campaign mode, and perhaps this campaign more than others passed will be crucial
to the outcome of the election. Is famously came up against Tony Abbott in the last campaign. Was
would have campaign is the?

My experience in the last campaign was that he gave us the gift, by not being prepared to turn up
for the debate an in a blatant giving us a free kick and he wasn't very disciplined in the way he
campaigned. But we don't underestimate him a state of the opposition, he has been very disciplined
so far. I think it is strange that he is straining so much to kill work choices, it much to kill
work choices, it defies credibility when he goes so over the top. Even yesterday when he was trying
to do that as his main mission, he kept alive the idea that he can change the regulations which we
don't know what it means. Will people move of awards? Not be covered by unfair dismissal laws?
Although he has been much more disciplined a state of the opposition, there are questions from day
one of when he is trying to kill off an issue, he seems to be raising more questions that he needs
to answer. So that people know if Wright will be protected or not.

One issue plaguing Labor, according to another poll today, is that people are unhappy with the way
Kevin Rudd was treated. You're one of the people making phone calls for Julia Gillard the night
before the challenge. How quickly was it clear to you that there was an overwhelming mood to change
in the corpus?

That is not correct. I received phone calls from but Julia and Kevin. Those phone calls were
private, was not campaigning in either direction. I don't think that rehashing that achieves very

But voters are worried about it. They are uncomfortable with it.

I think the voters can often be uncomfortable with a range of what's in that mysterious things
which happen in the Parliament, let alone in the parties. I think when we get focused on the
campaign now that it has been called, people will be looking at Julia and looking at Tony Abbott
and just assessing what they like us people, what they are going to do for the country, whether or
not we are going to be improving our health system and education system or whether we will be
looking backwards which seems to be what Tony Abbott is so focused on. In health as much as any
other area. I am not sure that will play significantly in this campaign. That will be a matter for
the public.

We have seen of the last three years, hundreds of times, Ewen Kevin Rudd in hospitals, campaigning.

Don't tell me you're sick of that!

Some people might be. We had Kevin Rudd saying he would end the blame game, fix the hospitals,
there would be significant change. Nearly three years on, places like Napoleon are years on, places
like Napoleon are still struggling with long waiting lists. Tu appropriate the blame for that?
Kevin Rudd said the but was stopped with him. Does the buck stops with you in is under strain

We have absolutely put our hands up to say we should shoulder a bigger burden of responsibility and
that means a bigger burden of blame if things go wrong. But interestingly, he used an example where
we have a $100 million project, construction is under way, to build more services at the hospital
because the population has boomed far ahead of the capital investment. We haven't fixed the problem
has yet there but we have made a pledge which will be proud to Dover. It takes a long time to turn
things around but this is an important work in progress. I think we have a lot to show for it, a
lot more to be done but we are not defensive about.

Do you think people understand it takes a long time? You say you haven't fix the problems but
expectations were raised and in a lot of areas, they were raised by Kevin Rudd, and things were not
delivered. Could this be another of those? Were the cost may not be the price expected?

I don't think Sir. In travelling around the country, and talking with literally thousands of
ordinary patience as well as healthcare professionals. People say to us, please fix the problems
but do it properly. Don't do a Band Aid so we're back here in one more this time with the argument.
That means we have gone for pretty complex reforms. We were told it was politically too difficult
and would take too long, but we have bitten the bullet and have been prepared to do that. To move
forward, we have to be re-elected to continue on that process rather than have Tony Abbott UN
picked it.

The Government seems to be deaf to calls of the mental health sector. We have billions spent on
health but the only one splurging on mental health other coalition. The Rudd Government was accused
on this issue. Were the Government match the Coalition's pledge on mental health?

The Coalition has put forward an expensive plan in mental health.

But it is the plan the sector has been advocating.

It has been welcomed by some people but unfortunately it is paid for by cutting very important
other parts of health investment. What we have said to the mental health sector and others where
there is more work to be done is that we want to build the foundations first. It all the evidence
shows us that we don't have a strong primary healthcare system, investing in GPS and things like

But no more money for Mental Health, is that the message?

No, it would like to finish, the point I am making is that Tony Abbott is announcing $1.5 million
for mental health but doing it by cutting GPS up clinics. Investments in hundreds of GP services,
across the country. Cutting after our services. Does he really believe that people with mental
health issues don't want to see doctors after hours? Yes, we a grin on its to be done and we are
looking at what else can be done, but we're not prepared to make investments that mean the cut
other foundations. Unfortunately, that is what Tony Abbott is doing. He is cutting spending to
almost every investment in front line community caring Health. We think this cuts will be very
damaging. We saw the car ceded to hospitals while in government. It looks like we're going back to

Thanks for being with us Nicola Roxon. And coming up, we work through the first new poll of this
campaign, with Galaxy's David Briggs. In our cartoon of the week, Warren suggests no matter how
buffed your body Don't get between the prime minister's nose for votes, and the minister's nose for
votes, and the ballot box.

This programme is captioned live.

You're on Meet the Press. The new Galaxy poll taken the day before the election was called. Galaxy
poll taken the day before the election was called. Has Labor starting the campaign ahead - but not
by a huge margin. Two-party preferred, 52-48. The poll also suggests the treatment of Kevin Rudd
could do Labor damage. And Queensland especially is a problem area for the government. Let's go
through the numbers, David Briggs from Galaxy Research. Good morning. You have got a poll which
shows 52-48. This is pretty much consistent. Can the Coalition win from this?

It is difficult. They are starting the election from behind. It is difficult because at the end of
the day, be one thing the Government has his incumbency and that will has his incumbency and that
will work in a favour.

Where are the potential areas of growth for the Coalition? Where will they be looking at this
unthinking, on the polling you have come up with, there is something to be gained?

Were looking at a very small swing towards the Coalition. But that has to be uniform in of a to
deliver. Swing so rarely uniform. What we may see his Queensland and NSW B in public -- particular
issues. Barack unpopular state governments. And Queensland could be a problem because of the way
that Kevin Rudd was treated. One of the most popular Prime Ministers dumped very unceremoniously
and sunning Queensland are uneasy about that. But in a lot first poll, conducted straight after the
appointment of Julia Gillard, what came through was that voters appreciated that while it was
unfair and Kevin Rudd, it was the best thing for the party.

You poll has the Labor Party primary vote down. And a high vote for the Green party. The lead for
the Labor Party does depend on those green preferences going to Labor. How can you be so sure in
this volatile climate that they will float to Labor.

There is always uncertainty because of Senator Bob Brown has said they will not be a common party.
But in the past, Green parties have always flowed to Labor. There is no reason to suspect they will
not be the case in this case. What we find is that the greens usually have poor control of the
floor of preferences. And typically, they float towards Labor.

The union leader who supported Julia Gillard has attacked the Green Party and call them read on the
inside. They have been taken up by extremists. Is that a good way to court boats.

I think Labor are in a fairly tricky position with Labor. They definitely need the preferences but
by the same token, they are under attack from a could actually be losing lower house seats.

You talk about the value of incumbency, has that been depleted or diminished because Julia Gillard
is a new entity? We have had two new candidates for the voters to bank on. In new research, are
receiving any sign that Julia Gillard is getting a boost because she is the first female Prime
Minister? Is the female vote going to her?

I think with incumbency he works at the local level as well. He is not so much Julia Gillard versus
Tony Abbott, it is the fact that they're voting who has done a reasonable job of the last three
years. We haven't been singing anything in terms of the penal code but what we can say is that
while the gap has been fairly slight, the gap between the leaders issued. We're seeing 55% for
Julia Gillard to only 30% for Tony Abbott. That is virtually 2-1. In the last election, we found
Kevin Rudd was actually leading John Howard in terms of preferred pm. So it is a very difficult
situation. This election will be about leadership and month of AU Julia Gillard may only be
slightly ahead in terms of party, she is well ahead in personality.

And the Liberal Party has a new ad underway, let's have a quick look at it.

The election is on, the battle- lines are drawn. We have a clear message for the Australian people.
Will end the waist, stop the taxes, repay the debt and stop the boats. We will do the right thing
for our country. That is our action contract. That is what we are standing for.

Are not sure about the jingle, it is pretty lame. But the message is, it is pretty stark.

Both parties will play to their strength. They won't actually be debating issues, what they will do
is from the point of view of the Coalition, they have to be talking about the strength on the
economy and strengthen border security. For Labor, they won't wish to speak about those, although
the economy has been a strong suit for Labor, but what they will be talking about his health,
social welfare, all the positive strengths that Labor have traditionally had.

I want up -- on to ask Allah panel, had you see the election, do you think it can be winnable by
the Coalition?

I think it is winnable. It take a day be said about polling numbers but it is quite a small gap
which has closed a lot in the four months. months. We have two contenders putting themselves up for
the electorate to get through them. Tony Abbott is coming from a low base, but if it performs well
in the campaign, which is a question mark, he can be erratic. I think a lot comes down to the
performance of the individuals in the campaign from and a think because of the rafters seats that
he spoke about in Queensland and NSW, it is still very winnable for a coalition.

John, you're attuned to those marginals.

I would agree completely with that. I think it is winnable of the Coalition. The key thing in the
numbers of the disapproval rating for Tony Abbott, the fact that he is not that well liked in the
electorate. It may be something he can play on. Often money that might someone and you find they
are nicer than you thought, and he is quite likeable, some are some that up, if the concern self as
more likeable than the birth and years, he may have a chance.

We're out of time. Thank you David Briggs. Thanks also to our panel John Stanley and Fran Kelly. A
transcript and a replay of this program will be on our website. Until next week, goodbye.