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Melbourne: transcript of doorstop: Tasmanian election result, baby bonus and asylum seekers.

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Subjects: Tasmanian Election result, Baby Bonus and Asylum Seekers.

CREAN: I congratulate Jim Bacon for what has been a stunning victory on his part. He sought a continued mandate from the people of Tasmania and they gave him not just a continuing mandate but an increased mandate. What it shows is his united team with a commitment to the economic development of Tasmania, the regional implications and the social implications, that’s the positive policy response that people are looking for. That’s the type of message I want to develop from Federal Labor. This is the Labor Party in Tasmania getting 52% of the primary vote with the Liberal Party’s vote decimated. It shows that people will support policies that involve strengthening the economy but distributing the benefits fairly for the whole of the community. That’s the testimony to Jim Bacon’s Government and they’ve been returned with an increased majority.

JOURNALIST: Is there a federal message in all this?

CREAN: Well I think clearly the issues themselves were fought on state issues but I think there are wider implications. The ones that I just mentioned in terms of not just having a stronger economy but ensuring that the community sees the benefits for it. The other message which I think is terribly important about this and it goes to the Liberal Party, is that a party that isn’t prepared to modernise and isn’t prepared to be inclusive, will be rejected in spades. That’s why I’ve set about the task of modernising the Labor Party. Making it more inclusive, making it more democratic. As we speak, not only did the Tasmanian Liberal Party branch exclude candidates and deliberately hound them out, it’s going through exercises in other states all round the country, where branch stackers are taking over. I’m going to root out the branch stackers. John Howard has to do the same.

JOURNALIST: Are you surprised by the good showing of the Greens?

CREAN: Well I think that clearly the Greens, in Tasmania, always had a strong base of support. What they have done is to really present themselves as a more effective alternative to the Liberal Party. They didn’t effectively cut into Labor’s vote. What they did was to hack in to the Liberal Party. I think it’s going to be a very interesting test for the Greens because it will mean now being the effective opposition,


or an important part of the effective opposition in Tasmania, they’ll need to deal with a broader range of issues, not a narrow range of issues.

JOURNALIST: …Greens could overwhelm the Democrats?

CREAN: Well look, all of these issues I think just reflect circumstances of the time. The Democrats did poorly in Tasmania, but traditionally they have against the Greens. I think that the key that people are looking for are parties that present agendas on a wide range of issues. Single issue parties, in my view, do have limited lives. They can win important parts of the vote, when they’re put to the test, in terms of delivering on a broader front, that’s when they’ll be really tested.

JOURNALIST: Can I ask you a question about the childcare dilemma that has emerged, that some of the mothers do not get any of the rebates? What’s your reaction to that?

CREAN: John Howard went to the last election promising that every eligible mother would get $500 minimum. These figures confirm another broken promise. It’s the same as John Howard’s deceit on the pensioner bonus, now he’s doing it to working mums. It’s another example of John Howard saying one thing before the election and dudding them after the election. This is a bogus baby bonus. It needs to be re-looked at, particularly in the light of us pushing for Paid Maternity Leave.

JOURNALIST: Do you have a comment on the sad story on those two Woomera boys?

CREAN: Yes, I think that the circumstances in which Philip Ruddock didn’t allow those boys to meet their father is very sad indeed. But I also believe that those that were involved in getting the boys out and doing that against the law haven’t helped their case. Never the less, I believe there is no place for children behind razor wire. The Government has conducted a successful trial for housing young people, with their mothers, outside the razor wire and around the perimeter of Woomera. That’s the appropriate location for these kids at the moment, not inside behind the razor wire.

JOURNALIST: …presented the kids at the British Consulate were just sort of, you know, stoking their own political fires?

CREAN: I don’t know about those motives, I just make the point I don’t think they’ve helped the case of the kids because in circumstances in which the law is broken you can’t condone breaking the law. You can try and change the law and you can try and get flexibility within the law. I’ve been advocating a change to the law and I’ve been advocating flexibility within the law. I think that’s the pressure behind which people should get.