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Transcript of doorstop interview of the Acting Leader of the Opposition, Jenny Macklin MP: Melbourne: 18 January 2005.

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Jenny Macklin MP Acting Federal Labor Leader Shadow Minister for Education, Training, Science & Research Federal Member for Jagajaga

JANUARY 18 2005


MACKLIN: Thank you very much for coming today. It is a very sad occasion for the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. I was very sorry to receive a call from Mark Latham this morning informing me of his intention to resign as Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party and as the Member for Werriwa. Mark Latham has made an outstanding contribution both as a member for Werriwa and as the Leader of the Party over the last year or so. My thoughts are particularly with him and his family, especially Janine today on this very, very sad occasion. And I certainly want to extend to Mark and to Janine and to his extended family our sincere thanks for the outstanding contribution that he has made to the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party over such a long period of time.

Mark has been an outstanding thinker in the Parliament, a great communicator and a very good feisty parliamentary performer. After he was elected Leader of the Party in December 2003 he demonstrated his capacity to campaign. He campaigned long and hard in the lead up to the last election. And we thank him for his enormous contribution. We are very sad that he is going in these circumstances. For a young man to have to leave the leadership of the Labor Party and to leave the Parliament because of ill health is very, very sad indeed. But today our thoughts are primarily with him, with Janine and the boys and the

rest of his family and we thank him sincerely for the great contribution he ahs made.

A request will be made to the Chair of Caucus to call an official meeting of the Caucus at 9am on January 28th where Mark Latham will tender his resignation and there will be a ballot held for the purpose of electing a new Leader and until that time I will remain Acting Leader.

JOURNALIST: Do you think he made the right decision for the Labor Party?

MACKLIN: He’s made the right decision for the Australian Labor Party and for himself. He obviously felt that he couldn’t continue as Leader, that his health would not allow that to happen. So, he has put the Labor Party first.

JOURNALIST: And you’ll be putting up your hand to be Leader?

MACKLIN: No, I won’t. I’m the Deputy Leader and there’ll be a ballot for the position of Leader.

JOURNALIST: Who will you be putting your support behind?

MACKLIN: I don’t want to discuss that now.

JOURNALIST: Do you think this decision was made because Mr Latham’s ill health or because of his popularity?

MACKLIN: There’s no question that it was made because of his ill health. He’s taken some time to reflect on and make this very, very difficult decision and I hope people will give him the understanding that he deserves in these very sad circumstances.

JOURNALIST: Do you think Mr Latham’s has been treated harshly?

MACLKIN: I think it’s important that we all understand the difficulty he’s had coming to this decision and I hope that people will now respect his privacy and allow him to recover in peace.

JOURNALIST: What do you make of state Premiers going into this issue so strongly?

MACKLIN: People have the right to put their point of view but I hope now that Mark has made his decision that everyone will respect his desire his respect to recover in peace.

JOURNALIST: Do you think it’s unfortunate timing for Kevin Rudd who’s overseas in Indonesia at the moment?

MACKLIN: It’s important that the Caucus be given time to consider the position of Leader and that’s why the request will be made for the special meeting to be held on 28th January 2005.

JOURNALIST: What kind of damage do you think this kind of instability has done to Dr Gallop’s chances in WA?

MACKLIN: We wish Geoff Gallop all the best. He has been a leading and outstanding government in Western Australia. The Western Australia economy is extremely strong and I certainly hope that Geoff Gallop will be returned. He certainly has my full support and anything that I can personally do to help I certainly will.

JOURNALIST: Realistically, do you think there has been some damage (inaudible)?

MACKLIN: Let’s move on and recognise that a difficult decision has been made today and I have no doubt that Geoff Gallop will run a very strong campaign.

JOURNALIST: Politically what do you think Mark Latham should be remembered for?

MACKLIN: I think Mark Latham will be remembered as a person who made a terrific contribution to Labor Party policy. He’s always been a thinker, he’s always been challenging. He’s made some particular contribution, I think everyone will remember his contribution on Parliamentary superannuation. His strong position against the war in Iraq, of course his position that ensured that Mr Howard had to amend the US Free Trade Agreement. We have a baby care payment because Mark Latham announced that Labor would take that policy to the election and the Government followed Labor. So, there were many, many initiatives that Mark Latham put forward last year and I have no doubt those specific initiatives, plus his strong (inaudible) in general will stand him in good stead.

JOURNALIST: What does Labor have to do to regain its footing?

MACKLIN: Well the important thing now is that we gather together around a new Leader whoever the Caucus may choose and that we focus on taking the argument and fight up to John Howard and of course putting forward strong Labor policies for the future.

JOURNALIST: Would you be happy to serve under Kim Beazley if he was chosen as the new Leader?

MACKLIN: I’d be happy to serve whoever is elected as the Leader.

JOURNALIST: Why wait until January 28th for the Caucus meeting?

MACKLIN: The rules require seven days (inaudible)

JOURNALIST: Do you think Kim Beazley would be a good replacement?

MACKLIN: I don’t intend to comment on that matter.

JOURNALIST: Some people have described Mr Latham’s leadership as a failed experiment, what do you make of that?

MACKLIN: I think it is important to remember the excellent contribution that Mark Latham made bringing Labor back from a pretty difficult position when he was first elected as Leader and I’ve just gone through some of the very significant policy contributions that he made which then forced Mr Howard to in fact follow suit, whether it was Parliamentary superannuation, whether it was the US Free Trade Agreement, the Baby Care payment, so the list goes on of policy initiatives that Mark Latham made as Leader of the Opposition and forced them on a reluctant government.

JOURNALIST: So you will be happy to run again as Deputy?

MACKLIN: There’s no vacancy for the Deputy.

JOURNALIST: Why not seek the Leadership yourself?

MACKLIN: I’m the Deputy Leader and I’m happy to stay in that position.