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Parliament House, Canberra, 2 July 1998: transcript of doorstop interview [waterfront; MUA; Wik; Telstra]



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THE HON PETER REITH MP

MINISTER FOR WORKPLACE RELATIONS AND SMALL BUSINESS

LEADER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

PARLIAMENT HOUSE

CANBERRA ACT 2600

 

2 July, 1998

 

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON PETER REITH MP

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW - PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

 

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JOURNALIST:

 

…senior Ministers in the waterfront saga?

 

REITH:

 

The Labor Party doesn’t have a smoking gun. It has a smoke screen. And their embarrassment is that this week they passed the waterfront legislation necessary for the Government to complete its reform program. And of course, this week has seen the agreement with Patricks and the MUA’s therefore able to proceed. That will mean over 700 redundancies on the waterfront. It means that the MUA has finally agreed to the Government’s productivity target of 25 crane lifts an hour. Basically we are now in the position of putting in place the seven points to our seven benchmarks which we established back in April.

 

This week is an important week and in the life of the House of Representatives, not just the waterfront issue being dealt with and tidied up. But today the House of Representatives will pass the Wik Agreement and will send it off to the Senate. And it will mark the culmination of a very successful negotiation by the Prime Minister who should be congratulated for bringing to a satisfactory conclusion, what has been a very long and difficult issue.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

But doesn’t this document show that the very upper echelons of the Government was closely involved in this?

 

REITH:

 

Well we were closely involved in reforming the Australian waterfront which is exactly what we said we’d do. I mean this is laughable for the Labor Party to be saying this is a great revelation.

 

We’ve had subsequent Cabinet documents. This one that they had yesterday was a discussion document about how you might approach the issue. So what?

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Is this an attempt by the Labor Party to shift focus away from them and their, at least contemplation over the same issue?

 

REITH:

 

The Labor Party have been shocked and disappointed that the Government has been able to reach a successful conclusion to the Wik issue. The Labor Party have been stirring social division on Wik for months and months. And they would be very disappointed that the Prime Minister secured such a sensible, balanced and honourable outcome.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

As a senior Cabinet Minister you must be concerned that the National Party’s revolting against plans for the full sell off of Telstra?

 

REITH:

 

The National Party’s not revolting. They are very nice people.

 

Thank you very much.

 

ENDS

 

For more information on the Government’s maritime industry reforms, see http://www.dwrsb.gov.au

 

 

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