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Transcript fo radio interview: Wednesday, 1 July 2009: Commencement of Fair Work; commencement of Job Services Australia; Middle East visit; media reporting of 'utegate'; Opposition reshuffle.

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The Hon Julia Gillard MP

Minister for Education. Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Minister for Social Inclusion Deputy Prime Minister

1 July, 2009  


Radio Interview 730AM Wednesday 1 July 2009


ISSUES: Commencement of Fair Work; commencement of Job Services Australia; Middle East visit; media reporting of ‘utegate’; Opposition reshuffle

GERALDINE DOOGUE: As we mentioned, those new IR laws come into effect today. The person behind them is Deputy Prime Minister and Workplace Relations Minister, Julia Gillard. I spoke with her earlier this morning.

JULIA GILLARD: Good morning.

GERALDINE DOOGUE: Julia Gillard today is the day the new Fair Work laws come into play and Sharan Burrow has called this an historic day. What do you call today?

JULIA GILLARD: I would certainly say this is a very happy day for the Australian people. The Australian people made it very clear to the Howard Government that they didn’t want Work Choices and there was no single bigger issue at the 2007 election than whether or not Australians were going to have fairness and decency at work. Australians voted for that fairness and decency and today it is delivered through the new Fair Work laws.

GERALDINE DOOGUE: What is the approach you expect to see from unions? The Opposition and others are suggesting there will be a real breakout from unions for new agreements and pay rises across many sectors.

JULIA GILLARD: The approach I expect to see from everyone; unions, employees, employers and their organisations is a cooperative enterprise bargaining based approach. At the heart of these new laws is a safety net that everyone can rely on and above the safety net, bargaining based on the needs of an enterprise in good faith. So I expect to see cooperation and a focus on productivity.

GERALDINE DOOGUE: But the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union for instance is reported today to be pushing for a four per cent rise across 1300 agreements and this in the middle of a crisis. Do you support that?

JULIA GILLARD: I expect unions to make claims, of course in their members’ interest, they go out and say what their members want. But what these laws provide is people then have to knuckle down at an enterprise level and bargain an agreement that is in the interest of that enterprise. That is what these laws are all about. That is what the agreement making is all about; the discussion has to happen in good faith and a deal has to be struck that suits that individual enterprise.

GERALDINE DOOGUE: So Julia Gillard, under these laws you have the power to intervene in a range of ways and we have already seen that in some ways, say the hospitality sector. Where do you imagine you’ll be using these powers because you wouldn’t want to be pulled into every wage case would you?

JULIA GILLARD: Oh, certainly not and historically Ministers for Workplace Relations have had the power to intervene in critical disputes. It is very rarely used and I don’t anticipate using it anymore than has been used historically which is very, very rarely indeed.

GERALDINE DOOGUE: Another change today is replacing the Coalition’s old Job Network with Job Services Australia. The Opposition says these changes will result in wasted time for jobs seekers and even your Minister, Mark Arbib says that it would be foolish, that things could go wrong in the interim, that there could be a quarter of a million job seekers will have to change their service provider. So what do you say will be the yield from these new arrangements?

JULIA GILLARD: The Opposition has got an incredibly short memory. If it actually remembered its days in government it would remember that the Government had no choice but to undergo this tender round. It was due and it was required. So we went through the tender round, restructuring jobs services so they would better meet the needs of Australians, particularly the most disadvantaged Australians.


JULIA GILLARD: We have restructured the system so it’s not a time based ‘how long have you been unemployed’ system to work out what package of services you get. We have restructured the system so that there is an assessment of a job seekers needs and then a package of services is made available to them which suits their needs.

And we’ve added to the system, since the advent of the global financial crisis and global recession - so someone who becomes redundant in our economy now as a result of the global recession immediately gets intensive assistance and a package of support to get a new job including training support.

GERALDINE DOOGUE: Now Minister you have just returned from Israel and the Middle East and you are known for a bit of a forensic mind yourself. I wonder if you were trying to sit there solving those issues, what would be your top priority having seen what you just have?

JULIA GILLARD: Well I may have to defer to the great and the good like Tony Blair who are working on these problems. But having just been to the Middle East, it seems to me there is goodwill on both sides; the Israeli and Palestinian side. I think that parties need to sit down and negotiate issues identified in earlier peace processes.

They of course go to having a separate state for the Palestinian people, its borders, its governance arrangements and the way in which Israel and that new state will work together.

GERALDINE DOOGUE: You missed of course an exciting week in Australian politics. What you saw in the Middle East, did it make Australian politics look mild by comparison?

JULIA GILLARD: I did miss an exciting week in Australian politics. And I’d have to say I think Malcolm Turnbull has obviously borne the scars well and truly of that week…

GERALDINE DOOGUE: Because Peter Costello was on your trip wasn’t he?

JULIA GILLARD: Peter Costello was on our trip…

GERALDINE DOOGUE: You didn’t see any sign of change?

JULIA GILLARD: I didn’t see any sign of change but I have certainly seen signs of scars on Malcolm Turnbull. And I think that there probably is a debate we need to have about media reporting and media ethics.

One of the things that struck me from the remove of the Middle East, looking at the press reports, is we did seem to have a situation where the Prime Minister on a Friday night went out and made very clear indeed that email records had been searched, searched independently, and that this email did not exist. And not withstanding that statement from the Prime Minister, in a series of News Limited newspapers the next day, the claim was further pursued as if it was fact and as if the Prime Minister hadn’t made that statement.

Now I think that probably does require some explanation as to how it occurred and how that kind of reporting went on so that the Australian people didn’t know, through those newspapers in a timely way that the Prime Minister had made that statement and clarified the matter.

GERALDINE DOOGUE: And of course there is said to be a reshuffle coming, I wonder how you would reshuffle the shadow frontbench if you had your way?

JULIA GILLARD: The principal problem for the Liberal Party I think is two-fold. Number one, it now has a leader with no credibility in the eyes of the Australian people. Number two, the Liberal Party doesn’t know what it stands for any longer, except of course it still pursues its dream of Work Choices.

And the Australian people want to hear from political parties about their views for the nation’s future and they want to hear that from leaders that they trust. Unfortunately, the Liberal Party doesn’t have a leader people trust and they don’t have any views on the nation’s future.

GERALDINE DOOGUE: Julia Gillard, thanks very much indeed.

JULIA GILLARD: Thanks Geraldine.

GERALDINE DOOGUE: Julia Gillard, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Education and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations.


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