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The policy and the personal -

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Reporter: Heather Ewart

Prime Minister Julia Gillard made announcements today about the Government's plan for mental health
policy while Greens Leader Bob Brown told the media he was disgusted over the obsession with
Gillard's personal life and marital status.

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: New measures to combat suicide, which nationally claims 2,000 lives a
year and to give extra support to men contemplating self-harm, formed the centrepiece of the
Government's election campaign today.

For his part, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott used a fish market as a backdrop to announce his marine
park policy and his Immigration spokesman wheeled out Nauru's Foreign Minister to extol the virtues
of offshore asylum seeker detention centres.

It was also the day for Kevin Rudd, finally, to utter the name of his successor and for claims to
emerge that Julia Gillard had opposed the Government's paid parental leave scheme in Cabinet.

Political editor Heather Ewart.

HEATHER EWART, REPORTER: It seemed good idea for that all important photo opportunity. Campaigning
in Mackay in the marginal seat of Dawson, Tony Abbott strolled into the local fish markets, media
entourage in tow, to try his hand at fish filleting.

He may now think it best to stick to his day job.

And the reason for all of this?: so he'd have the right backdrop for this announcement.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: The Coalition in government will immediately suspend the marine
protection area process which is threatening the livelihoods of many people in the fishing
industry.

HEATHER EWART: For Julia Gillard, there'd be no messy fish filleting today, and indeed, as has been
the way of her campaign so far, not too much interacting with the public at all.

Mental health was her focus, to try to counter criticisms her government has not done nearly enough
in the area.

JULIA GILLARD, PRIME MINISTER: I am very pleased to announce that if re-elected, as a government,
we will invest in suicide prevention and support services.

HEATHER EWART: It will be to the tune of $277 million on a range of measures including more
frontline counselling services.

JULIA GILLARD: We wanna reach out to men. 2,000 Australians committing suicide each year - 75 per
cent men. We've obviously got to have a particular outreach strategy for men.

TONY ABBOTT: It's a very important issue and obviously in broad terms I am pleased to see the
Government doing more in this area.

HEATHER EWART: With the rider that the Government still has a lot of work to do to address mental
health and match the Opposition's $1.5 billion plan, and experts in the field agree. From policy to
the personal, and something shifted on the campaign trail today, with the line of media questioning
going to places not usually publicly canvassed. For example, was Julia Gillard's emphasis on male
suicides aimed at finding another role for her partner Tim Matheson, who's already a
Government-appointed, but non-paid men's health ambassador.

JULIA GILLARD: This is a government package that would be delivered by the Government. It's not a
package that's been put together because I see any role for Tim in this package. This is a
government package to work through the services that have been identified.

HEATHER EWART: There was more, this time going to Julia Gillard's marital status.

JOURNALIST: Would you be happy to be the first de facto couple living in The Lodge or are we to
expect a prime ministerial wedding?

NICOLA ROXON, HEALTH MINISTER: Do you want a bridesmaid?

JULIA GILLARD: You know, a best man - we could, ah - look, I make - well, number one, um, you know,
decisions about me getting married are not just made by me, if I could make that point. Number two,
decisions in my personal life I'll make for personal reasons. That's - you know, it's my life and
I'll make my personal choices about it.

HEATHER EWART: As for Tony Abbott, suggestions the Opposition has been playing the family card
raised questions as to why he had his daughter Louise campaigning with him today.

TONY ABBOTT: Look, I'm just really pleased to have Louise with me today. It's a great to have her
on the campaign trail.

HEATHER EWART: Tony Abbott was also scrutinised over a media report that a Liberal MP was briefing
journalists on Julia Gillard's lack of a husband and children.

TONY ABBOTT: Family status shouldn't be at stake. Gender shouldn't at stake. It's simply the
policies and the competence which are the issues in this campaign.

HEATHER EWART: If Tony Abbott overplays his family and married status - and we have had several
references to it so far - he's heading into potentially dangerous territory and he seems to have
worked that out. There's a limit to what voters will tolerate when it comes to Opposition tactics
on Australia's first female prime minister, who happens to be childless and unmarried.

For Greens leader Bob Brown, it's all too much.

BOB BROWN, GREENS LEADER: Julia Gillard has been subject in the last 24 hours to some quite nasty
attacks, not just from the Opposition, but in the media. And I'm frankly disgusted by it. She's got
her own partner and her relationship with that partner and that's a great strength to any member of
Parliament.

HEATHER EWART: No-one would dispute that. As the campaign moved onto safer and more traditional
ground: the issue of pork-barrelling. The National Audit Office released a report on the
Government's half billion regional grants program and found projects in Labor seats were more
likely to be funded. 42 per cent of Labor electorates got grants compared to 18 per cent of
Coalition seats.

JULIA GILLARD: The audit report, as I'm advised, finds that when we're looking at the program, the
distribution of projects and funding under the program is basically proportional to the number of
seats held by political parties in the House of Representatives. And the four biggest projects are
in non-ALP-held seats.

HEATHER EWART: Of course it's public perceptions that matter here, and on that front the Opposition
today eagerly promoted a meeting with Nauru's Foreign Minister, Dr Kieren Keke, to discuss that
country's willingness to accept an offshore refugee processing centre ahead of East Timor.

SCOTT MORRISON, OPPOSITION IMMIGRATION SPOKESMAN: ... the Prime Minister of our country has failed
to grasp: and that is the constitution of Nauru enables the President to enter into an agreement
with Australia to reopen the centre at Nauru. There are no constitutional barriers. That can be
done today.

NAURU OFFICIAL: Should there be a request from the Gillard Government, we would also accept that
invitation.

STEPHEN SMITH, FOREIGN MINISTER: This is nothing more, nothing less than a political stunt, an
attempt to again trick the Australian public into believing that somehow there's a quick fix on
boat people, human trafficking and asylum seeker issues.

HEATHER EWART: But this is a campaign shaping up on both sides as one of quick fixes on many issues
instead of tough policy decisions so as to appease those crucial voters in marginal seats.

But there's one thing Labor can't fix, and that's the constant reminder of Kevin Rudd.

KEVIN RUDD, LABOR BACKBENCHER: I fully support the re-election of the Government and I fully
support the election of Prime Minister Gillard.

HEATHER EWART: The former Prime Minister was basically put on notice at the weekend by one of Julia
Gillard's most loyal supporters, Education Minister Simon Crean, that he had to be a team player if
he wanted to rejoin Cabinet ranks. After a news report on Channel Nine tonight that Julia Gillard
didn't back the paid parental leave scheme when the so-called "Gang of Four", including Kevin Rudd,
Wayne Swan and Lindsay Tanner, were discussing it, some of her colleagues are angrily pointing the
finger at Rudd or his supporters as the source. The big question now is how Julia Gillard handles
it from here.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Political editor Heather Ewart.