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Transcript of doorstop interview: 4 September 2007:

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Deputy Labor Leader

Shadow Minister for Employment & Industrial Relations Shadow Minister for Social Inclusion


ISSUES: Newspoll, industrial relations, election campaign, APEC

JULIA GILLARD: Today, there is a new poll result in The Australian newspaper, the Newspoll result. Can I say, I think that result shows that Australians are rejecting Mr Howard’s extreme Work Choices laws and they are embracing Labor’s better and fairer alternative. But Labor knows that polls will go up and they will go down. We know that we are trying to do a tremendously difficult thing. Labor has only won office twice from Opposition since World War II. To win this election we need to win a huge number of seats - sixteen seats - and we’re up against a very clever politician in Mr Howard, who will do and say anything to win this election.

Labor is not taking anything for granted. We will be out there every day, talking to the Australian community about the issues that matter to them. Talking to the Australian community about fresh thinking on the things that concern them about this nation’s future. And there’s no area that needs more fresh thinking than the area of industrial relations, where too many Australians have been hurt by Mr Howard’s extreme laws.

On the question of industrial relations, it’s a scare campaign a day from the Howard Government. Knowing they can’t defend their extreme Work Choices laws, each and every day they try to run a new scare campaign about Labor’s policy. Like all good scare campaigns, what they’re saying isn’t true.

Mr Howard today is trying to say Labor’s unfair dismissal laws would hurt small business. But today there is a survey of Sensis of small and medium size businesses, and those businesses themselves say, more than 80 per cent of them, that unfair dismissal laws would have no impact on their business. So it’s not Mr Howard’s voice we should be listening to, it’s the voice of small businesses, more than 80 per cent, saying unfair dismissal laws would have no impact on their business. And Mr Hockey is in the scare campaign business as well. Mr Hockey is claiming that under Labor’s system, employees won’t have the benefit of penalty rates and overtime. This is as silly as all of Mr Hockey’s other scare campaigns. Under Labor, workers earning less than $100,000 will have the safety net of awards, awards will deal with issues like penalty rates and overtime and no one will be able to rip those award conditions away. This is a stark contrast to Work Choices, where award conditions can be ripped away and they’re still being ripped off Australians today.

JOURNALIST: The polls were very strong for Mark Latham before the last election. How much does that play on your mind?

JULIA GILLARD: The thing that plays on my mind is being out there and listening to the Australian community. And the Australian community I think has a mood for change. They do recognise that the Howard Government has grown stale in office, they do believe the Howard Government has lost touch

with many of their concerns. They want to hear from Labor, the fresh thinking that will make a difference to their family’s future and the nation’s future. We’re out there everyday talking about that fresh thinking. We’re going to continue talking about that everyday between now and Election Day. And on Election Day, the Australian people will decide.

JOURNALIST: Kevin Rudd doesn’t have the campaigning experience that John Howard does. Do you think he will struggle when it comes to the official campaign?

JULIA GILLARD: I think Kevin Rudd has shown since he took the Labor leadership last December that he’s a man whose very firm in his beliefs. He’s a man who’s very stable, who’s there dealing with the pressures, who’s there showing he’s got the capacity to lead the nation. I think Kevin Rudd is someone who Australian’s recognise has that capacity for leadership, can withstand pressure, can come up with good ideas and fresh thinking for this nation’s future. All of that is on display today and all of that will be on display for the campaign period proper.

JOURNALIST: Do you concede that given the polls that things are looking good for Labor?

JULIA GILLARD: Polls will go up and polls will go down. I don’t take too much notice of any one poll. We’ll expect to see more twists and turns in the polling between now and Election Day. But the important thing is what the Australian people decide on Election Day and the important thing for Labor between now and Election Day is to be talking to the Australian community about the fresh ideas that matter for their future. I spend my time talking to people about industrial relations and they want to know, that in this nation under Labor there will be a system that’s fair and balanced. We are promising that system. And they know too many Australians who have been hurt by Mr Howard’s extreme laws.

JOURNALIST: Do you think something like APEC which could work in favour for an incumbent government with an election coming up, is now something that’s going to turn people against John Howard this time?

JULIA GILLARD: APEC of course is supported by Labor. We would claim that it is a creature of Labor foreign policy in the past. We think it’s very important that there is a forum like APEC for international issues to be discussed. We’re

happy to see APEC in Sydney. We are obviously saying very clearly to those intending to demonstrate, that it is one thing to peacefully stand and make your views heard, it’s another thing to act in a disruptive fashion. Anybody who is intending to protest, those protests must be peaceful and people must obey every direction given to them by the police.

JOURNALIST: What about the timing of APEC? Some are saying it could work in the Government’s favour come election time?

JULIA GILLARD: I’ll allow others to speculate on matters like that. We are supporters of APEC as a forum, its here in Sydney, it will be here talking about international issues. We obviously want to see it go off without a hitch and we certainly don’t want to see any form of disruptive or violent protests.