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Transcript of doorstop interview: Southbank Institute of TAFE Playgroup: Brisbane, Queensland: 21 September 2006: Childcare; Factions; Native Title.

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Subjects: Childcare; Factions; Native Title

BEAZLEY: John Howard’s neglect of the childcare sector has seen put on the list of essential skills to import workers, childcare. That’s a disgrace. That’s an absolute disgrace. What we should be doing is encouraging young Aussies to take up this essential profession. So, the Labor Party has said we’re going to do this. We are going to pay the fees, the TAFE fees, of those who are doing childcare courses of the type that we have seen conducted around here. It’s very expensive. One of the lasses here was telling me over two years it’s $6000. Now, it’s no good. We’ve got to encourage young people to get into this sort of profession. It’s essential, both for good educational outcomes for our youngsters in those critical early years of learning, and it’s essential for participation in the workforce.

You know, we’ve got a massive skills shortage and part of the solution to that skills shortage is encouraging women to stay in the workforce. Now, for families where they’ve got two kids, two children in school or in childcare, workforce participation for women in this country is 45 per cent. In the United States, it’s 60 per cent. In Britain, it’s 55 per cent. This is part of the solution, a critical part of

the solution for workforce participation producing the skills that we need.

So, we’re very proud of our support for the childcare sector. We are absolutely determined that we put in place the right incentives for young people to get into this very essential profession.

JOURNALIST: The pay’s not that good, though, Mr Beazley. Does that need to be addressed?

BEAZLEY: Yes, it does. The pay is very ordinary. Over the course of the last 18 months or so, I’ve identified myself with various claims that have been put forward for people representing childcare workers for better pay outcomes.

It’s important to encourage the broadest possible participation in childcare work and you don’t get that without decent pay. It becomes particularly hard to attract childcare workers in CBDs and in inner suburbs because they have to live so far away from where they work. They can’t afford anything else.

JOURNALIST: But how much do you think pays need to rise by for childcare workers?

BEAZLEY: That’s for the proper industrial commissions to determine what ought to happen and for it to be worked out by the industry and the workforce in the industry. But that it needs to rise, there’s no doubt.

JOURNALIST: How would you commit yourself to making that happen?

BEAZLEY: I’d commit myself to supporting decent opportunities for young people to get into childcare. And the thing that I can directly effect, the thing that I can immediately effect, is what it costs them to become a childcare worker - eliminate that cost and at least you’ve taken a step in the right direction.

JOURNALIST: Are the Dalek warlords threatening to exterminate the Labor Party?

BEAZLEY: The only thing we’re going to exterminate is John Howard’s industrial relations laws. That’s what we’re going to do. We are going to exterminate those industrial relations laws and defend that good old Aussie value of a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.

JOURNALIST: So, do you deny that Dalek warlords and soulless control freaks are basically scuttling Labor’s chances of winning seats?

BEAZLEY: I don’t agree with everything that Robert Ray has had to say but I do absolutely agree that what we’ve got to get in the Labor Party is good community-based candidates and good policies directed at real needs for the Australian people, and we’re doing that. I’m out there getting good community-based candidates, in place and we’ve had a few successful outcomes, I must say, on that in recent times.

JOURNALIST: Ruling out Carr and Conroy, what are your thoughts about them as being Daleks?

BEAZLEY: Well, Carr and Conroy are good, effective members of my frontbench, working overtime. In the case of Kim Carr - on getting affordable housing. In the case of Steve Conroy - getting decent broadband to every Australian. They’re there as a central part of Labor’s nation building team. Now, what I’m about is focussing on what the main business is: How do we get in place the right nation building policies in this country to ensure that our prosperity is preserved, and whether it relates to industrial relation law, whether it relates to what we need to do on infrastructure or on skills or on things like sustainable development by getting to grips with the issues of global warming, water and the like, I am focussed on what we now need to have in this nation.

JOURNALIST: Are you offended at all by his comments likening them to Dr Who?

BEAZLEY: I think having the notion of extermination around there for something, not bad in relation to industrial relations laws. And we, however colourfully you want to present it, we are going to exterminate it.

JOURNALIST: There are calls for you though to force the factional leaders to put the Party ahead of factional supremacy. Will you take up that charge?

BEAZLEY: Every Labor Party member is devoted now to one thing at the national level and that is putting in place a government that properly represents Aussie values. And one of those values is a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. And that, at the end of the day, is a central summing up of all that we stand for in fairness in the Australian workplace.

JOURNALIST: Can you turn this factional politics around to Labor’s advantage, there are calls for you to do that?

BEAZLEY: We will win the next election because now all members of the Labor Party are setting aside, around this county, their self-interests, their disagreements with each other and focusing on their patriotic duty. And that patriotic duty is to provide a positive alternative government. And we’re doing it.

JOURNALIST: Was Senator Ray out of line with his comments?

BEAZLEY: Senator Ray is a member of the Labor Party in very good standing and a personal friend of mine. And Senator Ray has the best interests of the Labor Party at heart. As I said, I don’t agree with all that he’s had to say but I do agree that we’ve got to get in place the right community based candidates - and we’re doing it. Look, for example, at the case of Yvette D’ath, fantastic candidate. Just the sort of candidate we need for good community based candidates to win elections. Young mum, married to a policeman, put herself through uni, got a legal qualification, has worked tirelessly herself in her own life for a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay for ordinary Aussies - couldn’t be happier.

JOURNALIST: But isn’t it the case that these factional warlords, these Daleks, these control freaks are actually pushing the community based candidates that you want out of the picture?

BEAZLEY: Community based candidates are coming through. Community based candidates that we need to win the next election have been coming through actually for some time now. When I think of somebody like Justine Elliott and the sort of background she has, winning Richmond. You

know, we’re getting more and more people in place who are easily identified by the average Australian as someone like them. Someone like them and prepared to take responsibility.

JOURNALIST: Were you a fan of Dr Who?

BEAZLEY: Many, many years ago I was a fan of Dr Who.

JOURNALIST: Do you think those sensational sorts of comments and the headlines we’ve seen today are actually damaging to the stability of Labor Party?

BEAZLEY: Look, I’m focused on one thing: that’s to put in place the right policies to defeat John Howard. You see, the nation building agenda that we’re used to from national government has crumbled away. Crumbled away on skills, on infrastructure and now the ideological danger in this country is a product of the extreme industrial relations laws. And the Liberal Party getting more and more extreme. Liberal Party extremist factions that won over the base of the Liberal Party and we are getting ideological candidates not community candidates from them. The Labor Party is going in the opposite direction.

JOURNALIST: Aren’t we getting a distraction though with sorts of things. Isn’t this a distraction though from selling that kind of message?

BEAZLEY: In politics you deal with all the issues that come before you and you stay focused on the main game. I’m staying focused on the main game which is why I’m here. Why I’m here in this setting talking to you about what is an essential part of our plans for improving workforce participation. There are many important objectives for government, but few more important that that.

JOURNALIST: Just on Philip Ruddock and the Native Title in Perth, have you got some comments on that?

BEAZLEY: Howard and Ruddock should stop playing politics with this issue. This issue is too important to play politics with and I deprecate the fact that Howard and Ruddock are playing politics with it. Let me tell you this about the West Australian Government: on Native Title there’s safe hands. We in Western Australia have negotiated many positive outcomes in Native Title - we are used to doing it. We do like a bit of clarity while we do it and it’s important that they West Australian Government gets clarity in relation to the particular claim that has been discussed most recently in the Federal Court. Now, it seems that there is one outcome in that claim and there’s other outcomes in the claims that have proceeded elsewhere. If the West Australian Government is to sit down and negotiate positive outcomes, then it needs that clarity. And so I support the decisions taken by the West Australian Government in that regard. I tell Mr Howard and Mr Ruddock to butt out and stop playing politics with it, Party politics with it, stop alarming people. I happen to be in Western Australia, in the

Perth metropolitan area, the owner of a freehold title. Yet I don’t feel the least bit threatened by any conceivable outcome from this particular set of claims. So, I am at peace and I am comfortable that my interests and that of all my fellow West Australians are properly placed in the hands of the West Australian Government. And they’ll do the job properly on this and they don’t need any help from John Howard.

JOURNALIST: Can you say the same thing about South East Queensland and Brisbane, that’s going to be the subject of a big claim as well?

BEAZLEY: Obviously if you get clarity in relation to the West Australian situation it will give you an indication about how Peter Beattie would need to handle anything in that regard. And I trust Beattie and Carpenter any day on these matters over John Howard. They are long experienced in getting positive outcomes on Native Title issues, properly managed into the community generally. Howard’s not.