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Transcript of doorstop interview: Wednesday, 13 June 2007: Howard Government secret plan for workers; ACTU campaign against Work Choices; Question Time; election.

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Deputy Labor Leader

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


ISSUES: Howard Government secret plan for workers, ACTU campaign against Work Choices, Question Time, election

JULIA GILLARD: Yesterday in Parliament, Labor revealed a secret document from the Howard Government which is about its plans for the future of Work Choices. Over night the Howard Government has tried to say this document is about modelling things they are doing now. Well, I would like the Prime Minister and the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations to explain why it is the document is modelling 100 per cent of Australian workers being under Work Choices. That is, smashing state industrial relations systems and forcing workers like nurses, teachers and fire-fighters under Mr Howard’s extreme laws. That’s not part of the Government’s current plans, that’s not something they have ever told the Australian people but it is there in the document to be modelled. 1.5 million Australians ripped out of State industrial relations systems and forced under Mr Howard’s laws. That’s the future of Work Choices if Mr Howard is re-elected. And the document shows 1.5 million Australians will be subject to Mr Howard’s unfair Workplace Agreements, that 1.5 million more Australians are expected to end up under Mr Howard’s unfair Australian Workplace Agreements. Australians shouldn’t accept the Howard Governments spin on this. This is the future of Work Choices. They didn’t tell Australians the truth before the last election; they are hoping not to tell Australians the truth before this election. But if Mr Howard is re-elected Work Choices will be there for every worker and millions more Australians will be on his unfair Australian Workplace Agreements.

JOURNALIST: Julia, are you worried that the union campaign, the election campaign strategy leaked today will allow the Government to argue that you are locked in with the union movement?

JULIA GILLARD: It’s no news that the ACTU is campaigning against Mr Howard’s unfair Work Choices laws. The ACTU has been campaigning against these laws since they were first introduced. The ACTU is campaigning against them because they are unfair to Australian working families; there is nothing new in that.

JOURNALIST: What about the imagery of you being supported in your campaign by the ACTU?

JULIA GILLARD: The ACTU has been campaigning on Work Choices for some time now, there is simply no news in that. And of course Labor made its own decision when we first saw this legislation and when we saw this legislation we said, it will hurt Australian working families. And here we are after more than 12 months of the legislation and Mr Howard and Mr Hockey have been forced to admit it has hurt Australian working families. They have actually said there is evidence that people have lost penalty rates, shift loadings, overtime and not got any compensation. The Labor Party makes its own decisions on industrial relations; we have made our own decisions about the future of the industrial relations system. The ACTU has made its own decision about what is in the best interests of its members and it has been campaigning for some time now against Work Choices.

JOURNALIST: But are you worried there will be a backlash if union members start going to sporting clubs and church groups to promote the cause?

JULIA GILLARD: In terms of campaigning, the ACTU is running its own campaign but there will be political groups out there in the lead up to the election campaigning on a range of issues. Of course you will see the ACTU campaigning on industrial relations, we’d expect that. We will see a range of health groups campaigning on health issues, we’d expect that. We will see a range of community sector groups raising issues for people with disabilities, aged Australians and the like, and we’d expect that. That is part of what happens in the run up to an election. Interest groups, advocacy groups in the community raise the issues they say their members are concerned about.

JOURNALIST: Do people really want to be sitting at home receiving multiple phone calls and a knock on the door from their union?

JULIA GILLARD: At the last election campaign, whether or not they wanted to, Australians picked up their mobile phone to hear John Howard on it. These tactics have been used by the Liberal Party which is of course the biggest importer into this country of American style election tactics. Each and every election they get out the Republican Party play book and work out what’s next. They are the ones who are in the forefront of using tactics like having Mr Howard on mobile phones at the last election.

JOURNALIST: But the ACTU isn’t a political party, it’s an interest group.

JULIA GILLARD: Yes, the ACTU is an interest group and interest groups will use all sorts of mechanisms in the coming months to raise their issues. I proudly drink, when I sit in my office, out of a mug that says vote 1 for health given to me by the AMA. I have received correspondence at home from my private health insurance provider telling me about their views of political party’s policies on private health insurance. And the list goes on. We will see advocacy groups of all types, in the lead up to the election, raising their issues. It was only earlier this week we were talking about the business community advertising on Work Choices, an issue of concern to it; we would expect to see that. We would expect to see advocacy of all types, raising issues in the way they deem to be appropriate. Obviously the decisions about how they do it, is a matter for them.

JOURNALIST: Julia did you enjoy your first day in the big chair yesterday?

JULIA GILLARD: I am very glad Kevin is back.

JOURNALIST: You didn’t enjoy it?

JULIA GILLARD: I am very glad Kevin is back and it is back to business as usual today. Thank you.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]

JULIA GILLARD: The people who deliver votes in elections are Australians. They are the ones who walk into a polling place, they get a ballot paper in their hand, they walk into a polling station and they make a very big decision when they mark that ballot paper. What we are saying to Australian working families, is when they are marking that ballot paper, think about the future of this country, think about the Australia they want to see in ten and twenty years time. What do they want for their kids and grandkids when it comes to workplace laws? What do they want for their kids and grandkids about climate change and this nation’s response to it? What do they want for their kids and grandkids about how we build prosperity in this country beyond the resources boom? The only person who can make a decision about how to vote in this country is an individual Australian with a ballot paper in their hand.