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Transcript of doorstop interview: Parliament House, Canberra: 21 June 2006: Senate reform; Iraq; industrial relations.

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Wayne Swan MP Federal Labor Shadow Treasurer


SUBJECT: Senate Reform, Iraq, Industrial Relations

SWAN: Well Darth Vadar would be very proud of the Howard government this morning. They’ve finally managed to neuter the Senate. What’s next - The Death Star?

This Government has got plenty of skeletons in its closet and that’s why they’re shutting down an effective Senate committee system as indeed, they have been trying to shut down the House of Representatives over the last couple of weeks.

They won’t front up and argue the case for their industrial relations changes. The Treasurer wouldn’t front up in the Parliament yesterday. The Prime Minister won’t debate the Opposition Leader, Mr Beazley because this Government has let power go to its head and what it’s really on about, is a very long held, ideological agenda for which its not prepared to be accountable in the House of Representatives or in the Senate.

Journalist: Are they only doing this because they can?

SWAN: They’re doing it because they’ve got all power under the sun and this is a government that has been unplugged since the 1st of July last year and the first example of that has been its extreme industrial relations legislation with all of the consequences for the living standards of millions of Australian working families. Many day by day are being put under extra financial pressure as a result of their extreme changes.

Journalist: This morning on the Sunrise program Brendan Nelson seemed to put for the first time, a time line on the withdrawal of troops, saying that they could look at it at the end this year. It’s the first time we’ve heard that.

SWAN: Brendan Nelson was embarrassed in the Parliament yesterday. In fact I thought he’d been off to Lucas Heights - he was glowing after he was put on the mat by the Opposition Leader, Mr Beazley for his failure to provide a full accounting of what is going on in Iraq. He was acutely embarrassed yesterday and I think he may be more embarrassed today but I’ll leave detailed comment on that to Rob McClelland.

Journalist: Mr Swan, on the Senate changes, if Labor wins the next election would you reinstate those six committees?

SWAN: Well we have always favoured an accountable Senate, and Labor in government has always favoured an accountable Senate and has always favoured power sharing in that body.

Journalist: There’s another Newspoll out today showing industrial relations moving into the top ten of concerned areas for Australians. What’s your take on that?

SWAN: Well my take is that Australians are very concerned about the Government’s extreme industrial relations legislation - very concerned. That’s reflected in the Newspoll.

Journalist: It still shows that Australians are not as confident in that ALP as they are in the Coalition on the economy.

SWAN: Well I don’t think there has been any change in the economy ratings in the poll but there’s been a huge change in the rating on industrial relations. It just says that this government is out of step with public opinion on industrial relations.

Thank you

ENDS Wed 21 June 06

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