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Transcript of doorstop interview: South Australian ALP State Conference, Adelaide: 30 November 2003: ALP Leadership ballot.\n

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Shadow Minister for Health




Subjects: ALP leadership ballot

GILLARD: Today I want to make a statement about the Labor leadership contest. It is not my intention to canvas publicly how individual members of caucus are going to vote or to canvass publicly what I think the numbers are. I think there are many things that need to be done within Labor Party forums and those things relating to the leadership contest need to remain within the party. But having said that there are some newspaper reports today about the polls and how Labor’s electoral chances could be affected by our leadership decision on Tuesday and it is my intention to make some comments about those polls.

One of the polls is carried in the Fairfax press and another in the Murdoch press, principally in the Daily Telegraph. Each of the polling showed Kim Beazley having the greatest degree of public support, which one would expect, after all Kim Beazley was a senior Minister in the Hawke and Keating Governments, he has been Leader of the Opposition for two parliamentary terms, he contested two election campaigns and of course he has contested one leadership contest in this parliamentary term.

It is therefore completely unsurprising that Kim Beazley has the best degree of public recognition amongst voters. But if you look behind the beauty contest between those who will contest the leadership ballot on Tuesday and look at Labor’s voting intention it indicates that whether Kim Beazley is leader or Mark Latham is leader or if Kevin Rudd is leader, the same number of people indicated that they will vote Labor. Interestingly, more women indicated that they will vote Labor under Mark Latham’s leadership and he is also given a tick by women for being clear-headed and articulate.

What these polls have proved to me and it is what I have always believed and believed consistently throughout the period of Simon Crean’s leadership, is that the next election will not be a beauty contest between two leaders. The next election will be about the program that Labor puts before the Australian people, what the Australian people want to hear from Labor is our vision for Australia, our bold policies to save Medicare, to make sure that kids from every walk of life have a chance to go to University, to make sure that Labor has plans to take pressure off families and to make sure that Labor has plans to deal with our national security and border security issues.

At the end of the day the decision that the Labor caucus has to make on Tuesday is one about who is best to develop and articulate that vision, because it is that vision that will attract people to vote Labor at the next federal election. My judgement is that Mark Latham is the leadership candidate who is best


positioned to develop and articulate a bold vision of Labor policy for the 21st century and I think that is what the electorate want from us, the Australian people want to see the Labor Party move on from this period and they want to hear from us about the issues that matter to them.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

GILLARD: My view is that Kim is a very nice man, I believe that he has always approached his engagement in the Labor Party with the best possible motivation and I do not believe that Mark Latham’s comments at any point were directed at Kim.

JOURNALIST: Will you be standing for the deputy leadership?

GILLARD: The deputy leadership is not available for contest, the only position for contest next Tuesday is the leader.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

GILLARD: Jenny Macklin will be the deputy leader on Tuesday and thereafter as there is no vacancy for the deputy leader and there will be no ballot for deputy leader.

JOURNALIST: Peter Beattie is calling for Beazley as leader and Rudd as deputy leader, do you have any comments on that.

GILLARD: I would expect the Premiers to have views about what should happen with the leadership, that is in part shaped by their contact with people and I am unsurprised that a Queensland Premier would mention Kevin Rudd given that he is a Queensland MP. I suspect that if you ask Leaders from different states they would have different attachments, but at the end of the day this is a decision for Labor’s caucus and it is about who can best move the party forward beyond these troubled times and who can best articulate a new and bold Labor vision for Australia.

JOURNALIST: How much has this harmed the party in the last few months?

GILLARD: Look, division and disunity are always death in politics, everybody understands that, but the challenge for Labor, whatever happens on Tuesday, is to unite behind the Leader and the leadership team and to move forward to the next election. I have always been one, throughout my political life, that has given 100% loyalty to the leader of the party, whoever that person is. I was very loyal and supportive of Kim Beazley when he was leader of the Labor Party and as is well known publicly, I was a strong supporter of Simon Crean and remained so during the events of last week.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) ….. Jenny Macklin as deputy leader?

GILLARD: The Deputy Leadership will remain in the hands of Jenny Macklin, what is in contest for Tuesday is who is going to be Leader of the Labor Party, I trust that this will be Mark Latham and I would then expect all caucus members to unite behind a leadership team consisting of Mark Latham and Jenny Macklin as Deputy and in the Senate, John Faulkner as leader and Stephen Conroy as deputy leader of the Senate.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

GILLARD: I am not prepared to canvass the numbers and I am not the best person to advise you on them.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that Mark Latham can tone down his language?


GILLARD: Interestingly, people have suggested that Mark’s image may not be welcomed by women, but to the extent that the polls matter, that doesn’t appear to be what that polls today show, where the voting intentions of women strengthen for Labor when they are asked the question if they will vote for Labor under Mark Latham’s leadership. I think that Mark is essentially an Australian character, a very Australian character, a larrikin Australian character and I think that the Australian electorate has shown in the past that they want to embrace people who talk and look like Australians, who value Australian values and most particular the value of a fair go. I think that is one of the principal differences between the Labor Party and our conservative opponents. We don’t want to see Australia become a little America, we don’t want an American style health system, we don’t want an American style education system. We want all of those things to reflect a deeply held Australian value of the fair go and I think that Mark Latham is an Australian character that carries that value to the bone.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

GILLARD: I think two things, one we will advance the Labor cause when we show the necessary unity and one of the constant messages that comes out of Tuesday after our leadership contest is that we need unity and need to work strongly toward the next election without any internal distractions. And two, I believe that Mark is well capable of articulating a Labor agenda in a way the electorate

understands, I think he is someone who speaks in the Australian vernacular and I think that we are people that are happy to have ourselves reflected in our leadership.


30 November 2003

For further information contact: Julia Gillard MP on 0417 361 637 Ann Clark on 0425 711 922