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Transcript of doorstop interview: Melbourne: 6 March 2007: Relationships Forum research; ACTU meeting; Brian Burke; Paul Keating.

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Deputy Labor Leader

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


TOPICS: Relationships Forum research, ACTU meeting, Brian Burke, Paul Keating

JULIA GILLARD: Today we have seen a bi partisan report launched by Relationship Forum Australia talking about the cost of long and unpredictable working hours on Australian families.

This is a bi-partisan report because the reference group included the former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson and a National Party Member of Parliament, Kay Hulls. What this report shows is that Australians work very long and unpredictable hours. 20 per cent of the people in this survey worked more than 50 hours a week, 30 per cent had to work on weekends and some 2 million Australians work for more than six hours every Sunday.

The cost on family life shows in this report. With angry and sometimes stressed parents with kids who therefore are in families where that stress shows. The report very clearly says this is taking a toll on Australian families.

The bad news of course is that Mr Howard’s industrial relations legislation will make this world of work worse for Australian families. We already know from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that women on Australian Workplace Agreements, many of them working mums, are working longer hours on average than women on collective agreements and get paid on average less for every

hour they work.

Under Mr Howard’s extreme industrial relations laws, you can literally be told to work ten hours one week and 60 hours the next. Under these laws you can be given an AWA, an Australian Workplace Agreement which takes away all predictability of your rostering. Mr Howard’s laws are bad news for Australian families and the stress for Australian families that this report talks about, can be made worse by Mr Howard’s laws. That’s why Labor in government will get rid of these laws, replacing them with laws that are in the interest of Australian working families.

Can I just say today that I have had the opportunity to meet with the ACTU executive and there was no bigger item of discussion and concern around the table than the circumstances of Australian working families and their ability to balance work and family life. The trade union movement knows, as do many employers, that workplace laws that are bad for working families are bad for this nation. We need an industrial relations system that will meet the needs of the future particularly meet the need to balance work and family life.

JOURNALIST: Do you think Labor’s opposition to these laws has lead to the boost in Labor’s polls?

JULIA GILLARD: In respect of today’s polls, can I say I think Mr Howard would have been pretty unhappy when he looked at his newspaper this morning and he should be. Mr Howard spent days engaged in a smear campaign against Mr Rudd. He has spent all of his resources and all of his energy as Prime Minister chucking mud at the Opposition Leader rather than running the country let alone worrying about the next ten years of the country’s future.

Today’s polls are a slap in the face for Mr Howard. They are telling him that Australians are not interested in his politics of mud and dirt and smear. Australians want their politicians to get on with the job. They want to hear about the things that will affect this nation over the next decade that is what Australians want their politicians talking about. If Mr Howard wants to continue playing his very muddy games then he is going to continue paying the political price.

JOURNALIST: Mr Rudd personally took a bit of a fall in the poll?

JULIA GILLARD: Mr Rudd is still the preferred Prime Minister choice of Australians. More people want Mr Rudd to be Prime Minister than Mr Howard. Mr Howard really has received a big slap on the face from the Australian public, who I believe have marked him down because he engaged in muddy games and engaged in the politics of smear.

JOURNALIST: Does it worry you that this mud might stick (inaudible).

JULIA GILLARD: Labor predicted this would happen, I predicted it personally and Labor predicted it generally, that a desperate government will resort to the politics of destruction, we were expecting this. The government who doesn’t want to argue on the future of the economy, about climate change, about what we should be doing about infrastructure, about what we should be doing to fix health and education, let alone what we should be doing to be fair to working families. A government that doesn’t want to argue on those things because it knows it can’t win those arguments, was always going to resort to the politics of personal destruction. We have seen Mr Howard do it over the last several days and he has paid a price for it toady. Australians are saying to Mr Howard we don’t want your dirty games.

JOURNALIST: Would you want this to continue then, given what you have just said?

JULIA GILLARD: The ethics that Mr Howard brings to his job as Prime Minister are a matter for Mr Howard. Mr Howard can choose how he conducts is himself as Prime Minister. What today shows is that Australians will judge him on the basis of how he conducts himself.

JOURNALIST: Did you give the ACTU any guarantees about the IR laws under a Rudd government?

JULIA GILLARD: I talked to the ACTU today about the future of our industrial relations system, a future that will be fair, productive and flexible. Our industrial relations policies, some of them have been announced, we certainly will be getting rid of AWA’s, we will have laws that are fair, we will have a strong industrial umpire in the centre of the system. The ACTU understands that, they also understand the Parliamentary Labor Party, and me in particularly, will be responsible for drafting the in detailed policy proposals and they will wait to see those proposals.

JOURNALIST: Were unfair dismissal laws raised today?

JULIA GILLARD: Unfair dismissal laws were raised today and I said to ACTU what I have said publicly, that Labor is consulting small business about those laws and we will make some decisions when those consolations finished.

JOURNALIST: Should Kevin Rudd have meet with Brian Burke?

JULIA GILLARD: Kevin Rudd has answered every part of these allegations that have been pursued in a very dirty fashion by Mr Howard over the last several days. There is not one bit of this that hasn’t been comprehensively answered, that has been done, it’s over, we are going to keep talking about the important things for Australia’s future, including taking the stress of working families with an

industrial relations system that fairer to them . Mr Howard can stay in that gutter if that’s what he want to do.

JOURNALIST: We won’t be expecting any gutter tactics from the Labor Party in the lead up to the election?

JULIA GILLARD: We are interested in investing in this country’s future and we think that is what Australians are interested in. So we will get on with the job, on with the positive job of the future. It is up to Mr Howard and his cohorts in how they behave.

JOURNALIST: Do you think what has happened to Ian Campbell had put greater pressure on Mr Rudd?

JULIA GILLARD: No I think it has put greater pressure on Mr Howard because Australians have seen it for what it is. Mr Campbell has been politically executed for not any great reason in the interest of the nation. It allows Mr Howard to pursue a political campaign against Mr Rudd. Australians must ask themselves if Mr Campbell resigned over these circumstances, why didn’t any one resign over the $300 million Wheat Board scandal. $300 million that ended up in Saddam Hussein’s regime, who our soldiers were then sent into combat against, a huge scandal and yet no one was forced to resign. Mr Campbell’s resignation is politics pure and simple. As Wayne Swan has remarked, he looked like a pretty happy man for someone who was forced to resign and I think he looked like a happy man because he has a secret deal in his back pocket to return to Cabinet after the next election.

JOURNALIST: Why do you think Mr Howard is delaying the announcement of Mr Campbell’s replacement?

JULIA GILLARD: I wouldn’t know why the Prime Minister has delayed but this has all been about politics, certainly Mr Campbell’s resignation has been about politics. Mr Howard can pick whoever he likes to replace Mr Campbell’s vacancy, it doesn’t change the truth that Mr Campbell is walking around with a

secret deal in his back pocket.

JOURNALIST: The AFP has apparently raided three federal MP’s Offices in Brisbane, what do you make of that?

JULIA GILLARD: I have heard those reports and I really don’t want to comment on any matters of detail. I think we should leave that subject to the AFP.

JOURNALIST: Does it worry you that this would further erode the reputation of politicians?

JULIA GILLARD: I really don’t want to make any comments. We should leave it to the AFP to conduct their investigation. Once the AFP is engaged I think it’s best to leave them to do their work without commentary from me.

JOURNALIST: Do you concede to-ing and fro-ing, by the Labor Party the Liberal Party the mud slinging, the raids, everything like that. Do you concede that politicians over all are in the publics mind being down graded?

JULIA GILLARD: There is a long term problem in this country with the image of politicians and when they see the Prime Minister, the most senior politician in the county engaged in a mud fest over the last few days it certainly doesn’t help. But I actually think Australians know who the culprits are and in this case the culprits are Mr Howard, Mr Costello, Mr Abbott and other members of the Howard Government.

JOURNALIST: And Mr Rudd for meeting with Mr Burke in the first place?

JULIA GILLARD: Mr Rudd has answered all of those questions well and truly on the public record.

JOURNALIST: Back to Work Choices, Mr Rudd didn’t address unfair dismissal when he spoke to the Victorian ALP State conference. He simply said he would tear up Work Choices, is he hiding something? What is Labor’s real intention?

JULIA GILLARD: We have been absolutely clear about this, we are consulting small business. There have been concerns from small business and we want to here their concerns before we make any policy announcement.

JOURNALIST: So that means the unfair dismissal laws could stay as they are now?

JULIA GILLARD: The reason we say we are consulting is because we genuinely want to hear their views, so I don’t want to say on the one hand that I am consulting and then on the other hand say something is prejudged. We haven’t prejudged the issue, that is why we are going to talk to small business in a genuine way.

JOURNALIST: Can I ask you about the Adelaide situation, with the Holden jobs, how would a Labor government have handled this any differently?

JULIA GILLARD: These are matters for Kim Carr our Industry Shadow Minister, and you would certainly be referred to by Kim Carr and the Labor Leader Kevin Rudd for the need to make sure that this is a country that continues to make things. We don’t want to be a country that wakes up in ten or twenty

years time to find that this country has become, China’s quarry and Japan’s beaches. We want to continue to make things and we want to continue to make cars, industry policy is important to that and Senator Kim Carr is developing Labor’s industry policy and is working closely with Kevin Rudd to do that.

JOURNALIST: Does that mean you will slow down the tariff reduction?

JULIA GILLARD: Certainly it’s not about tariffs. It is about industry policy. We need to compete on the world stage, but there are things you can do to help our motor vehicle companies compete. Certainly the education revolution, the skills and training agenda is important to that, innovation is important to that and industry policy is important to that. It’s not a debate about tariffs, it’s about skills training and industry policy.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) Mr Keating’s comments yesterday.

JULIA GILLARD: Mr Keating is the master of a political one liner and he was back on the Australian stage yesterday. I think he was driven by his frustration at the way Mr Howard has conducted himself in recent days.

JOURNALIST: Does this work for or against you?

JULIA GILLARD: Mr Keating is a former Prime Minister, today he has the status of private citizen. Mr Keating if free to make public comments and yesterday he did. He is obviously frustrated by the way Mr Howard has conducted himself.

JOURNALIST: Has anyone from the front bench actually spoken to Mr Keating and asked him to please be quite or to continue it?

JULIA GILLARD: I certainly haven’t been speaking to him. Mr Keating is obviously free to make comments as he sees fit and he did make some comments yesterday.