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Election 2004: Leader of the Opposition campaigns in Tweed Heads.



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This transcript has been prepared by a source external to the Department of the Parliamentary Library.

 

It may not have been checked against the broadcast or in any other way. Freedom from error, omissions or misunderstandings cannot be guaranteed.

 

For the purposes of quoting verbatim from a transcript, it is advisable to verify the transcript against the broadcast.

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PM

 

Thursday 23 September 2004

Election 2004: Leader of the Opposition campaigns in Tweed Heads

 

MARK COLVIN: Meanwhile, Mark Latham's been defending his plans for industrial r elations. He would abolish Australian Workplace Agreements, which he says are part of an unfair "dog-eat-dog" system. 

 

Mr Latham insists, though, that it is health rather than workplace rules which will sway voters and he's been at the Tweed Heads Hospital today mingling with patients and visitors to promote his plan to pump a billion dollars extra into public hospitals, as Louise Yaxley reports. 

 

LOUISE YAXLEY: It's now more than halfway through the election campaign, and the leaders are battling it out over what the theme is. Mark Latham insists it's health, and today he was at another hospital visiting patients and newborn babies. 

 

(sound of baby crying) 

 

The Prime Minister says it's all about economic management, but Mark Latham quickly dismissed that today. 

 

MARK LATHAM: Mr Howard is treating this campaign like a clearance sale. Everything goes. Everything goes out, including him, and he's offering all these sales and bargains on the way out, as he heads into retirement, and he's been on a $5-billion spending spree in this campaign. 

 

So you had Peter Costello, I think the first Sunday of the campaign, saying if you run down the surplus you put upward pressure on interest rates, and there's only one thing the Coalition's been doing ever since, running down the surplus and putting upward pressure on interest rates. 

 

LOUISE YAXLEY: The Government also wants industrial relations to play a big part in this election campaign, and today the Minister for Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, went on the attack. 

 

KEVIN ANDREWS: Industrial relations is a battleground in this election, and Mark Latham has not got a clue. 

 

Yesterday he said that there was no push to increase the coverage of awards. Yesterday I released a document from the CFMEU showing that there is precisely that - a push by the unions to increase award coverage in this country. 

 

Today Mark Latham says that business doesn't understand his policy. The problem for Mark Latham is that business fully understands his policy. They understand that his policy will destroy jobs, lead to a loss of productivity, an increase in inflation, and that will push up interest rates in this country. 

 

As I said, industrial relations is a battleground, Mark Latham has not got a clue. 

 

LOUISE YAXLEY: The Labor leader's played down the concerns coming from some of the big business groups about his plans for industrial relations, and says his approach would be the fair one. 

 

MARK LATHAM: I think it's better industrial relations policy not to have a dog-eat-dog environment in the workplace. For me the Australian way is we help each other, we look after each other, we try and work together as Australians.  

 

We work together as Australians, and we can best do that through enterprise bargaining, which provides flexibility, but also a decent award safety net that ensures we've got a bit of fairness in the system. 

 

Dog-eat-dog individual contracts setting Australian against Australian is not the way forward for this country. It's not the future I want. 

 

LOUISE YAXLEY: But having declared that this election is really a referendum on Medicare, Mr Latham's going to be spending plenty of time in the nation's hospitals. Today it was at Tweed Heads, where 79-year-old Evelyn Prockop (phonetic), who's a Labor Party supporter, but says not a member, was waiting to waylay him. 

 

EVELYN PROCKOP: To get a specialist they have to dig into their pockets to see a specialist. It causes hardship, and the dental issue I'm particularly passionate about because dental ill health causes a lot of ill health. 

 

MARK LATHAM: Yeah, yeah, yeah I know, it's not just about your teeth, but problems can spread to other health issues, yeah. 

 

LOUISE YAXLEY: Having been pre-positioned by the Labor Party, it's no surprise that Evelyn Prockop's views match those of Mark Latham on health, but it turns out she's also a fan of the Labor leader because of the way he treats his mum. And she even yearns for the old Mark Latham, before he gave up the crudity. 

 

REPORTER: Evelyn, do you have a favourite of anything Mr Latham's said that you thought was particularly fizzy (phonetic)? 

 

(Latham laughing) 

 

EVELYN PROCKOP: What, like the arse licker?  

 

(laughter) 

 

Was that a little bit too crude? 

 

MARK LATHAM: No more crudity, Evelyn. 

 

REPORTER: He said you liked it. 

 

MARK LATHAM: Okay, thanks Evelyn. Good on you, lovely meeting you today. 

 

EVELYN PROCKOP: Lovely meeting you too.  

 

MARK LATHAM: Okay, good luck in the future. 

 

EVELYN PROCKOP: And thank you. 

 

LOUISE YAXLEY: Expect Mark Latham to hit even more of the nation's hospitals, quizzing them on what it is that they need. 

 

ELDERLY LADY: All I want you to do, and I'll vote for you if you do this, I want you to provide this hospital with a bladder scanner. 

 

MARK LATHAM: With a…? 

 

ELDERLY LADY: Bladder scanner. 

 

MARK LATHAM: A bladder scanner? 

 

ELDERLY LADY: Very cheap. 

 

MARK LATHAM: Yep. 

 

LOUISE YAXLEY: And as he bounds around the country, Mark Latham's still fending off questions about his health, following that bout of pancreatitis. He insists he's well. 

 

MARK LATHAM: Well, who's going to be the next person to ask me about my health? You know, Chairman Mao used to prove his health by swimming the Yangtze River. The best I could do was run along the banks of the Brisbane River, and I was happy to complete the course. 

 

MARK COLVIN: Mark Latham ending Louise Yaxley's report.