Industrial relations, gambling, terrorism – Doorstop Interview, Hawthorn, Victoria

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Industrial relations, gambling, terrorism – Doorstop Interview, Hawthorn, Victoria

Doorstop Interview

Leonda by the Yarra

Hawthorn, Victoria

Friday, 7 October 2005
2.15 pm

SUBJECTS: Industrial relations, gambling, terrorism


Treasurer, what is in store for us on the weekend, what is going to be announced?


Well, the details of Australia’s new industrial relations system will

involve an Australian Fair Pay Commission, it will involve minimum standards

and conditions, it will involve increased flexibility and that will underpin

a stronger economy, more jobs and higher real wages based on productivity.


Are you looking to give employees and employers more scope to negotiate on

more issues in negotiating AWAs?


I think the important thing is that we promote flexibility, that there be minima

and that people have guaranteed their terms and conditions but where possible

where you can get improvements in productivity and more jobs and higher wages,

we encourage that as well.


Mr Costello, the States are meeting today on problem gambling, do you have

a view on that issue? Do you think that issue needs to be addressed?


I think people who have gaming addictions are people who suffer greatly, whose

families suffer more, who can be tempted to anti-social outcomes and it is a

huge social problem for Australia. Now we had an inquiry from the Productivity

Commission recently to look at the problem of addiction in gambling and there

is a very high level of addiction and a very significant part of the profits

of the gaming industry come from people with addictions. And that is why I believe

that it is important that there be programmes to help people who have addictions

and we do what we can to quarantine people who have gaming addictions from the



The States have a heavy reliance on gambling revenue, do you have a view on

that? You said in the past that you think their reliance might be too heavy

on gaming revenue?


Well of course State Governments have looked at gaming from the point of view

of getting revenue, of getting tax but I’d urge them to look at gaming

from the point of view of the social consequences that there are many families

that are broken up, people lose their homes, children that lose the savings

of their parents and a great deal of suffering comes out of the gaming industry.

And I would say to State Governments have a look at the downside of this industry

as well as the revenues.


Treasurer, is the Government looking to make any changes to the minimal conditions

of AWAs or awards in these changes that you hinted at, or this announcement

that you have hinted at?


No, no, no. The Government’s policy is well-known in this area which

is an Australian Fair Pay Commission to guarantee minima, to encourage flexibility,

to improve economic growth, to encourage job creation, to make unfair dismissal

laws less of a burden on small business and to increase wages.


So are you saying then that this announcement at the weekend will not include

any announcement about changes to minimum conditions or things that will affect

pay rates?


It will be the policy that we have already announced.




We have already announced our policy.


Well what is this thing that you are hinting at at the weekend…


No, I will just say that we will be…


…on IR reform?


…no, no, no, no, no. What I said is that we will be arguing our case,

I will be arguing it on the weekend, we will be taking our case to the Australian

public. Our policy is known and now it is the question of ensuring that we get

public support to enact it.


Treasurer, is there a Cabinet adjustment taking place now in terms of what

consumers can expect to pay for fuel? Not just this year but next year and the

year after.


Look, higher fuel prices are in no-one’s interests. They are not in the

interests of consumers, they are not in the interests of business, they are

not in the interests of Government, you know, they are bad for the economy and

the only thing that will bring petrol prices down on a sustainable basis is

lower world oil prices and that revolves essentially around increasing supply

and I hope that happens. The price has come off a little bit, I hope that it

comes off a lot more and it comes off in a sustainable way.


Mr Costello, is there or is there not going to be an announcement on the weekend

about industrial relations legislation?


No, the Government has announced its policy on industrial relations and the

Government will on the weekend be explaining its policy and it will be taking

that policy to the Australian public. It will be explaining the benefits of

that policy and it will be gathering support to legislate its policy.


But haven’t you been doing that for the last six months?


And we will be doing it for the next six months. I hope that we can actually

get it in place this year.


Is this the roll-out of your advertising campaign, is that right?


Advertising will be part of explaining it, yes.


Mr Costello, I have just come back from seven weeks in Sydney and everyone

wants to know when are you going to become Prime Minister? Even in Sydney they

want to know?


Thank you for that question, sir.


Mr Costello, if I could just have one more question on a different issue. It

appears that there is a split in the Muslim community about support for the

changes to the terror laws, that the Islamic Council of Victoria has come out

and distanced itself from Amir Ali’s statement yesterday that there is

unanimous support for that. Do you have an opinion on that?


Well I think that the changes that have been agreed between the Government

and the Australian Government and the State Governments, the changes that were

agreed unanimously at a recent conference between all the heads of Government

will improve security in our community, that they have the support of both sides

of politics, they have the support of the Australian Government and the States

and I would hope that they would have the support of the Islamic community.

I would hope that they have widespread support in the Australian community because

terror draws no distinction you know. When a bomb goes off in Bali it can kill

Indonesians, it can kill Hindus, it can kill Muslims and it can kill Christians.

And it is in the interests of a civilised society and people of all faiths to

stand up against the brutality and the misery and the inhumane nature of terrorism.


Can I ask a final question on that gambling issue, John Brumby has just announced

that significantly higher…


Final question, we are going around the world.


…John Brumby has announced a significantly higher budget surplus than

what he had expected, I just wondered, do you think that too much of that is

coming from revenue raising, in particular problem gambling?


Look, the thing I would say to State Government’s is that revenue out

of gaming is not a one-way street. Behind the people who are paying money to

game are a lot of those who have addictions and problems and are spending money

they can’t afford to spend. And when they do that the homes break up,

marriages break up, people lose their property, children’s lives are affected

and I would say that it is in the interests of Government to reduce the number

of people with gaming addictions. And that is the downside of gaming and that

is the side that the Government has to address.


Are the proceeds of a sale of Medibank Private part of the planning for next

year’s Budget?


I wouldn’t know.