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Shadow Minister discusses industrial relations.



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JULIA GILLARD M.P. Deputy Labor Leader Shadow Minister for Employment & Industrial Relations Shadow Minister for Social Inclusion

TRANSCRIPT RADIO INTERVIEW ABC NEWSRADIO 7:15AM THURSDAY 4 JANUARY 2007 _______________________________________________________________________

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW: The Labor Party has identified industrial relations as one of the key issues in this years Federal Election. But the Party’s Deputy and IR spokeswoman, Julia Gillard is refusing to reveal Labor’s plans for Australia’s workplaces. She says those plans will be in place well before the election, expected in October or November. But the Government has called on Labor to say what it would do on industrial relations and to distance itself from the unions. Well joining us now is Julia Gillard, Industrial Relations spokeswoman for the Labor Party. Good morning to you Ms Gillard.

JULIA GILLARD: Good morning.

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW: It has been reported that you are going to boost minimum work conditions to try and guarantee that the existing work week will stay at 38 hours and minimum leave provisions and minimum pay rates, is that the truth?

JULIA GILLARD: What I actually said yesterday is I am concerned that the 5 minimum conditions that are available under the Howard Government’s laws aren’t enough and I am particularly concerned that the hours clause is really an illusion. What it says is that you can work a 38 hour week but it is all done as an average so there is nothing to stop you literally working 100 hours this week and nothing next week, provided over time the average comes out right. So we will obviously be looking at that and looking at ways of making working conditions more family friendly for people. I am not in the business of heavy handed regulation, I am not in the business of stopping workers and employers doing what they genuinely agree to do. But I do believe that working people are entitled to a safety net that protects basic conditions and John Howard has ripped that away.

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW: You are still some way off from announcing Labor’s full industrial relations policy though?

JULIA GILLARD: Well I must admit I am taking this with a sense of wry amusement that the Howard Government calls that we release our industrial relations policy. This is a government that didn’t tell the Australian people one word about its extreme industrial relations laws before the last election. John Howard never said before the last election he was going to pass these laws, he only decided to after the election when he saw that he had gained the numbers in the Senate. So really I would be entitled to say to the Howard Government, I will go by your standard and say absolutely nothing to the Australian people. For the …

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW: This is hardly a new style of leadership though that Mr Rudd has exemplified, you are now doing what you criticised them for.

JULIA GILLARD: No. I am joking of course in saying that, I am joking and pointing to the irony of the Howard Government calling on us to release details.

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW: So you will release details?

JULIA GILLARD: Of course we will release details but I won’t be responding to very silly calls from silly people in the Howard Government asking me to do things they have never done themselves. What I will do is I will respond to the legitimate need of the Australian people to know what they are voting for by the time of the next election. So by the time of the next election people will have full details of our industrial relations policies. Not one aspect of it will be a mystery, major commitments have already been made and they are well known and we will be building on those commitments…

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW: Meanwhile, Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews says you will probably face a moment of truth a little earlier in April in fact when the ALP Conference brings Labor’s politicians and union leaders together. He says you will be facing demands to basically re-unionise Australia’s workplaces if you win government.

JULIA GILLARD: Kevin Andrews is proving himself, day after day to be a very silly man. Made a silly call for more details, knowing of course he gave Australians no details before the last election of his policies and making silly calls now about what is likely to happen at ALP National Conference.

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW: You don’t doubt there will be some tension between the unions and the Party at the Conference?

JULIA GILLARD: What will happen at ALP National Conference is in a very amicable fashion we will deal with the ALP Platform, which will deal with industrial relations and other sorts of portfolio areas. Our Platform is our broad statement of principles. It is the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party that deals with in detail policies and we will deal with those policies at a time of our choosing.

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW: Now employer groups say that there isn’t any great anxiety out there about the Government’s workplace changes, what do you say to that?

JULIA GILLARD: I simply say to that, employer groups are wrong. People approach me, they approach Members of Parliament every day of the week, talking about problems in their workplaces as a result of these laws and for every case study you read about in the newspaper there are a thousand that lie behind, people who aren’t prepared to complain publicly because they are still in that job. Indeed there was a poll published in the recent period that said 40 per cent of Australians, either themselves or knew someone who had been adversely affected by the Howard Government laws. Now that is a huge number…

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW: And yet union membership continues to decline, does that concern you?

JULIA GILLARD: They are two entirely different questions. What I am saying is employers aren’t right to say that people aren’t concerned about these laws when we can see a poll result with 40 per cent of Australians saying either themselves or someone they know has been adversely affected.

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW: Julia Gillard, we will have to leave it there. Thanks for your time this morning.

JULIA GILLARD: Thank you very much.

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW: Julia Gillard is the Australian Labor Party spokesperson on Industrial Relations.

ENDS