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Transcript of doorstop: Sydney: 20 August 2008: workplace relations reforms; Work Choices; collective bargaining; use of hi-tech equipment during exams; Ministerial staff; Olympic Games.

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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

20 August, 2008


Doorstop Interview, 9:30am Wednesday, 20 August 2008, Sydney

Workplace relations reforms, Work Choices, collective bargaining, use of hi-tech equipment during exams, Ministerial staff, Olympic Games

JULIA GILLARD: It’s been a great pleasure to be here today for this industrial relations conference and to be able to describe the Government’s plans for a fair and balanced workplace relations system and to complete the end of Work Choices.

Yesterday it became clear that the Liberal Party had endorsed nuclear energy yet again in this country. A few minutes after the election, they said they were opposed to nuclear energy. Now they are saying once again they’re in support of nuclear power. There’s a direct parallel here with Work Choices. For five minutes after the last election, the Liberal Party said that Work Choices was dead. But it’s abundantly clear from the statements of Liberal Party spokespeople that Work Choices is still central to the Liberal Party’s philosophy. The reality is if you scratch beneath the surface, it’s the same old Liberal Party with the same old policies, including most particularly Work Choices.

As we move back to Parliament, Labor will be pursuing ending Work Choices and making sure there’s a fair and balanced industrial relations system in this country. What we know for sure is if the Liberal Party was ever re-elected to government, Work Choices would back again. It remains their policy just as they’ve made it clear that nuclear energy remains their policy.

JOURNALIST: How confident are you that you can get these IR reforms and other key budget measures through the Senate after what Dr Nelson said yesterday about some alcopops tax hike, for example?

JULIA GILLARD: Well, on workplace relations reforms, the Australian people voted to get rid of Work Choices at the last election. Everybody knows that.

The result of the election was crystal clear—the Australian people rejected Work Choices.

And I would be saying to every Senator, whether they’re from another political party or an Independent Senator that they shouldn’t stand in the way of the Australian people on this question. The Australian people want Work Choices gone. That’s what we’re going to achieve and we’d be saying to each and every Senator that they should look at the views of the Australian people and vote the way the Australian people want them to, which is to get rid of Work Choices.

On the announcement from the Opposition that they’re intending to block a series of Budget measures, a significant pressure on families right around this country is paying the mortgage. What we saw under the Liberal Party were 10 straight interest rate increases in a row. Now those 10 increases in a row in interest rates put a lot of pressure on people. We’re dealing with the interest rate challenge by putting downwards pressure on inflation and interest rates. Our Budget surplus is key to that strategy. It is economic vandalism to punch a hole in that Budget surplus. This shows that the Liberal Party has lost the plot when it comes to managing the economy. They are incapable of managing the economy and incapable of understanding the need for driving down inflation and interest rates.

JOURNALIST: On another issue, what’s your response to the Sydney school that’s allowing Year 9 students to phone a friend, use the internet and iPods during exams?

JULIA GILLARD: On questions of individual school decisions, that’s a matter for the school involved. Nationally, what do we want to see? We want to see a high quality national curriculum. We are concerned that when this nation compares itself with the rest of the world, we are starting to slip in educational standards. We want to turn that around. We want to turn it around through our Education Revolution. We want to turn it around with a high quality national curriculum. Obviously a high quality curriculum also has to be the subject of rigorous assessment and this was the first year in which there were genuinely national tests across the country to see how students were going in grades 3, 7, 5 and 9.

JOURNALIST: Do you want to encourage this at more schools?

JULIA GILLARD: Obviously, schools manage themselves. I’m not going to lecture to school leaders about the decisions they make in their individual school. But from the point of view of the National Government, what we want to see is rising standards. We want to see

educational excellence. Our national curriculum and our Educational Revolution are all about that.

JOURNALIST: Wouldn’t you be concerned that standards will slip if people are able to access the internet for their exam answers?

JULIA GILLARD: Well, one of the things we’re seeking to achieve and people would’ve seen me talk about this in the last few days, is we want a new era of transparency when it comes to what’s happening in schools. We want information publicly available about the students in our schools, about the mix of abilities that they bring to school and we want more

information available publicly about attainment in schools.

We don’t have that information now. If we had that information then obviously we would be able to objectively measure how schools are going and what difference the teaching practice in schools is making. We’re going to keep pursuing getting that information available publicly and if we achieve our aim, then we’d actually be able to know what difference teaching practices and assessment practices in different schools made to student attainment.

JOURNALIST: Minister, over in WA today the mining union is beginning the process of taking industrial action against Rio Tinto. They say they’re doing that because the employer refused to bargain. What do you say about the employer’s conduct?

JULIA GILLARD: Firstly, under our industrial relation system, if a majority of employees want to collectively bargain with their employer, then the employer will have to sit at a table and have the conversation with them and they’ll have to do that in good faith. That doesn’t mean that an employer will have to strike an agreement that they don’t want but it does mean that they’ll have to sit down in good faith. What I would say to everybody about industrial relations is I’ve never seen an industrial dispute that wasn’t ultimate solved by talking.

JOURNALIST: On another issue, is the Federal Cabinet thinking of expanding its staff?

JULIA GILLARD: Look I’ve seen these reports in the media. The Rudd Labor Government, when it came to office, reduced the number of Ministerial staff. We did that for a reason. Obviously, we looked right across the government expenditure in the recent Budget and we tightened. That was one of the ways that we delivered the Budget surplus and we thought that was very important to fighting interest rates and fighting inflation. So the Government’s got no present plans to make changes.

JOURNALIST: Do you feel you need more staff to handle your work?

JULIA GILLARD: I’m very well supported by the people who work with me.

JOURNALIST: On a completely different topic, the AOC says that they’re not going to win as … Australia’s not going to win as many medals as we had first hoped. Do you think we need, the Federal Government needs to boost funding for our sporting, our sporting heroes?

JULIA GILLARD: Well, I’m obviously watching the Olympics as I can. I don’t get long hours to watch it each and everyday but I’m certainly following the highlights and I think our Australian athletes are doing brilliantly. Let’s get to the end of the Games and then these discussions, I’m sure, will ensue. But the task at the moment is to be cheering them on and I’d like to be a participant in that.

Okay, thank you very much.


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