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Transcript of doorstop interview of the Shadow Minister for Employment and Workforce Participation, Corporate Governance and Responsibility: Parliament House, Canberra: 8 November 2005: Welfare changes; terrorism. \n

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Penny Wong Labor Senator for South Australia Shadow Minister for Employment and Workforce Participation, Corporate Governance and Responsibility

Tuesday 8 November 2005




Subject: Welfare changes; terrorism

WONG: Today the Coalition Party Room will be dealing with the extreme welfare changes this Government is proposing. Coalition members have a choice. They can support the Government’s extreme changes, they can support the Government’s extreme changes which will leave many vulnerable Australians worse off, or they can do the right thing: tell Minister Andrews to go back to the drawing board and come up with a competent plan that actually helps people into work. You don't help people into work by making their lives more difficult.

JOURNALIST: Do the amendments go anywhere near far enough?

WONG: Well, the amendments are the third coat of paint on a package that is fundamentally flawed. The core of the Government’s changes are extreme. The core of the Government’s changes are to make the lives of vulnerable Australians more difficult.

JOURNALIST: The Labor Caucus is considering the wider terrorism package today. There is talk about Labor calling for the removal of the sedition clause within it. Do you think that that will be enough to ease concerns within the Caucus?

WONG: Obviously our focus is on the national interest and we have always said that we need strong laws, but we also need strong safeguards. We've raised publicly our concerns about a great many aspects of the proposed legislation. Some of those have been dealt with by the state premiers, but the decision of the Labor Caucus will be made public later today, I am sure, by my colleagues.

JOURNALIST: Do you have any concerns?

WONG: I think everyone of good heart in this Parliament wants to make sure we get the balance right.

JOURNALIST: Do the raids in Sydney and Melbourne overnight eradicate any scepticism about the Government’s motivation last week?

WONG: Well, Labor always said time will tell. There were sceptics on both sides of the Parliament. But what was important from Labor’s perspective is that we put aside any scepticism and act in the national interest and that is what we chose to do last week when the Senate was recalled.