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Deputy Prime Minister discusses COAG; global financial crisis; Fair Work Bill; and childcare.



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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 30 November, 2008

Transcript

8AM Sunday

Interview Meet the Press (Ten)

ISSUES: COAG, Global Financial Crisis, Fair Work Bill, child care

PAUL BONGIORNO: Good morning and welcome back to the program, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Good morning, Minister.

JULIA GILLARD: Good morning, Paul.

PAUL BONGIORNO: The big announcement yesterday, the COAG $15 billion extra on top of what the

Commonwealth already gives the States. The Prime Minister put 300,000 new jobs on that. Is that over the

four years or is it more ambitious than that?

JULIA GILLARD: The Prime Minister has said that this will create new jobs. In his statement yesterday, he

said that 133,000 new jobs. This is about new money, new resources for the States and Territories in vital

areas like healthcare and schools. So, Paul, we're talking about more doctors, more nurses, the kind of

professionals that people rely on. And of course, in my own area of Education, we're talking really about a new

chapter in the Education Revolution. Transparency school-by-school of results and resources and new

investments to help with disadvantaged schools, teacher quality, literacy and numeracy. We are determined to

make a difference for the quality of schooling in every school in this country.

PAUL BONGIORNO: During the week, we saw the OECD report forecast that we could see unemployment rise

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by 200,000 in Australia. You've got the 133,000 that the Prime Minister spoke about yesterday. I saw one

report add more, but that's fine. Is that on top of the 75,000 that was tagged to the $10.4 billion stimulus

package that was announced earlier?

JULIA GILLARD: Yes, it is. This government has taken a series of important steps to protect jobs and to invest

in jobs in these difficult times flowing from the global financial crisis. We've always said to the Australian

community, we're not going to be immune from these global events. These world events are going to touch our

economy. So, step number one was the $10.4 billion economic security statement. That's about jobs. 75,000

new jobs being the estimate. It's also about training for jobs with new training places for Australians who need

them. Of course, we guaranteed bank deposits as well in the early days of the unfolding global crisis. Now,

we've taken this step through COAG. New money, new investment, meaning new jobs and also new services in

health and education. And in December of course, the Prime Minister has foreshadowed an infrastructure

package. Infrastructure is obviously about job creation as well. And we've had the local government package,

$300 million, also about supporting and creating jobs locally.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Without the measures, unemployment would be significantly higher?

JULIA GILLARD: Well, we know that in these difficult days, we've got to invest in keeping our economy

moving. There is a contagion in the world and we are not immune from that contagion. What we can do is act

decisively in front and that's what the Government has been doing every step of the way. And our single biggest objective is to support Australian jobs.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Well, the Prime Minister has said that - well, he said during the week that if necessary,

the Government would go into temporary deficit. The Opposition has no sympathy at all for this talk. Here's

how Malcolm Turnbull put it.

MALCOLM TURNBULL (Monday): Australians rightly regard the prospect of a deficit budget next year as a

failure in economic management.

PAUL BONGIORNO: But, it seems though that the Prime Minister doesn't expect a deficit next year. He said

yesterday for example that he would still retain a modest surplus after the measures. Is that right? You don't

expect a deficit next year?

JULIA GILLARD: What the Prime Minister said in Parliament last week and what he said again yesterday is

that our projections are for a modest surplus. But, we aren't going to hide from the Australian people the fact

that the global financial crisis is still unfolding. Its effects on our economy are still unfolding. These are

unpredictable days and the Prime Minister was saying in these unpredictable days, we will do everything

necessary to support Australian jobs. And what I would say to Malcolm Turnbull is, perhaps after Parliament

rises at the end of the coming week, he should spend his time hopping on a plane to Perth to talk to his Liberal

colleague, Premier Colin Barnett who yesterday very clearly said, even in a resources boom State like Western

Australia, the unfolding financial crisis may cause them to consider a deficit. Now, Colin Barnett gets it,

Malcolm Turnbull doesn't.

PAUL BONGIORNO: At the end of the first year of the Rudd Government, you've been acting Prime Minister

almost 70 times. Almost co-Prime Minister. Isn't Kevin Rudd overdoing the travel?

JULIA GILLARD: Kevin Rudd travels overseas when it is necessary for the voice of this nation to be heard in

the important counsels of the world. And of course, as the global financial crisis has unfolded, it's been even

more important for our Prime Minister to be in the decision-making forums that matter, the G20 and APEC.

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These have been the two recent trips and he had to be there as the leaders of the major economies in the world

sat down to deal with the aftermath and management of the global financial crisis. So, in those meetings,

that's the right place for him to be if he's going to protect Australian jobs and keep our economy in front.

PAUL BONGIORNO: He has got the lurgy, he admitted as much and it sounded like it when he was over there

in Lima. Do you think you would advise him to stay home a little more often next year?

JULIA GILLARD: I think Kevin himself made the point that he would happily never get on another plane in

his life. But, his job doesn't enable that. His job of course means that he travels this country extensively to talk

to people right around it; in shopping centres and shopping strips, schools and hospitals and he goes overseas

when he needs to, to represent this nation when it matters.

PAUL BONGIORNO: When we return with the panel, has Julia Gillard really put a stake in the heart of Work

Choices? [Break]

PAUL BONGIORNO: You're on Meet the Press with Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard. And welcome to the

panel, Annabel Crabb from the Sydney Morning Herald and from the Adelaide Advertiser, Mark Kenny. On

Tuesday, the Deputy Prime Minister unveiled the final version of her new industrial relations system. It

stirred surprisingly little controversy at the time.

ACTU PRESIDENT SHARAN BURROW (Tuesday): Today is an historic day and it turns back the tide on the

attacks on workers' rights.

MALCOLM TURNBULL (Tuesday): We will not oppose the Government's Fair Work Bill in the House of

Representatives. But we reserve our right to propose amendments to improve the operation of the Bill

following the Senate committee process.

MARK KENNY: Ms Gillard, Have you exceeded your mandate. You said that you would get rid of Work Choices but there are some aspects that seem to take industrial relations back past 1996 and even past 1993 in

terms of the use of Fair Work Australia for imposing settlements and the like. Is that exceeding of your

mandate?

JULIA GILLARD: What we said to the Australian people last year was that we would create a whole new

system which would be about taking us forward. Indeed, it was called Forward with Fairness. We published it

in April 2007 and the Bill I brought into the Parliament this week delivers on the promises of Forward with

Fairness. We promised to sweep Work Choices away and this Bill does. We promised to give people fairness

and balance in their work place and we promised to give them an industrial umpire who would be there if

things went wrong. But we also promised a system that was based on workplace bargaining and that's what

our system is. So, people will be able to go around, make their own arrangements, their own bargains. They've

got to be better than the safety net and I predict people will get about co-operative workplace relations under

this Bill.

MARK KENNY: Given the predictions we see for the economy over the next 12 months with predictions of

quite significant unemployment, would a prudent employer now who might be considering the possibility of

trimming his workforce for example, would he be clever and the smart thing to do to in fact get rid of any

employees now that he might want to get rid of later simply because it is going to be more difficult under your

new laws?

JULIA GILLARD: I certainly don't think so. I think employers look at their businesses, even in these difficult

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times, and they say to themselves, one of their single best assets is the hard-working, highly trained staff. And

even in tough times, they will do everything to keep those staff on board. In terms of the employer reaction to

our new Fair Work Bill, some employers said that the Bill goes too far. Some unions have said it doesn't go far

enough. That's what I expected. I think what that means is that we've got the balance right.

ANNABEL CRABB: Can I move you to education now, Deputy Prime Minister? We had COAG yesterday,

another great gush of Federal spending. You're now spending nearly twice as much on computers for schools

as you told the Australian public. How could a competent Government have underestimated this spend so

badly?

JULIA GILLARD: We said in our election policy that we would ensure children in upper secondary school,

years 9-12, had an effective one-to-one ratio, computers to children. We said that that would be a 4-year

program and budgeted it at $1 billion. When we came into government we said to the States we were happy to

talk to them about on-costs and we would have a credentialed process to deal with that, so we had the Grimes

Review to look at what the legitimate on-costs were. We also discovered in the first round just how bad the

situation was in schools with many schools in this country having more than eight children fighting to get

access to the one computer. So, we've said that we're going to deliver on the promise. We will deliver on it. The

new money made available to States means that we're delivering on making sure on-costs are met.

ANNABEL CRABB: Sure, but this is a basic thing. Any family buying a computer knows that it is not just the cost of the laptop. You've got to buy the broad band network and in-build the service costs. It is completely

obvious to a family buying a computer, why wasn't it obvious to you?

JULIA GILLARD: It was always obvious to us that we were going to have to work with schools and work with

States and Territories and the Catholic and Independent school systems on the roll-out of the program. And

from the first days of the Government, in the first 100 days, the applications went out for round one of

computers in schools we were working co-operatively. And we worked with them to crystallise what the on-costs are and now we've dealt with the question of on-costs. But I think it is important to remember what is

this all about. It is about striving for excellence and making sure that kids in secondary school, particularly

upper secondary school, have the learning tool of the 21st century. We needed to step in to do that because the

former Liberal Government had left it badly undone.

PAUL BONGIORNO: This week, thousands of parents are wondering if their parents will still have an ABC

Learning Centre to attend next year. The childcare union is putting the weights on the Government to take

further action.

NATIONAL SECRETARY OF THE LHMU LOUISE TARRANT (Tuesday): The banks have got to step up and

take responsibility and government can't be allowed to sit back and allow the banks to determine what

happens to our children's future.

ANNABEL CRABB: As a Government, you've guaranteed bank deposits in recent times. Are you in a position

to guarantee families are not going to be without child care in the new year?

JULIA GILLARD: Well, the Government has already acted to guarantee to families who use ABC Learning

Centres that care will be there for them until December 31 in the earliest days when ABC Learning went into

administration and then receivership. We said our highest priority was continuity of care. We were going to

make sure it was there. Then we said we were going to work with the receiver. We now know 656 centres will

be there next year, providing care for families. We're working on the situation of the remaining 380-odd

centres and the receiver has said he'll be in a position to make a further statement this week. And every step of

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the way, we've worked with the receiver including having expert staff embedded with the receiver working

alongside him.

ANNABEL CRABB: When you say you're working on the remainder of the childcare centres, does that mean

that there could be good news for parents down the track in terms of further Government assistance to keep

the centres open?

JULIA GILLARD: I think it is important to recognise what the receiver said, being on the list of 380 didn't

mean your centre was necessarily going to close. It just meant that there was more work to do and we are

going to be doing that work with the receiver. Our highest priority here has always been continuity of care.

And obviously, as this week unfolds, we will be in a position as the receiver makes more information available

to be talking to working mums and dads who rely on the child care centres about what to do next in relation to

their child care.

MARK KENNY: Your partner, Tim Mathieson, attracted a good deal of criticism this week after his

appointment as a men's health ambassador. That's' a fairly bruising introduction to public life. How does he

feel about it and will he make any other forays?

JULIA GILLARD: I think this at heart was a simple thing. Tim obviously wanted to do, on a voluntary basis,

work to raise awareness of men's health. We know that men would be in better nick in this country if they

more regularly went to the doctor. Men often think of themselves as the strong and silent types. They don't

like to complain and they don't like to seek professional help and we're trying to encourage them to do so. Tim

thought that he could play a role in that and hence the Men's Health Ambassador, it is no more complicated

than that.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Are you surprised at the controversy?

JULIA GILLARD: I'm never really surprised by anything in Australian politics, Paul, these things happen. But

obviously Tim wants to play a voluntary role assisting with men's health and I think that is a good thing for

him to be doing and a good thing for men to be thinking about, looking after their health.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Julia Gillard thank you very much for joining us today.

JULIA GILLARD: Thank you, Paul.

ENDS

Media Contact:

Deputy Prime Minister's Press Office: 02 6277 7758

media@deewr.gov.au

Non-media queries: 1300 363 079

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