NEIL MITCHELL: …on the line is the Shadow Minister, Deputy Leader, she seems to have been appointed the opposition spokesperson in charge of Mitchell she is on so regularly. Julia Gillard, good morning.
JULIA GILLARD: And it was a job everybody fought for Neil.
NEIL MITCHELL: Oh Julia, all lined up to do it. Now, Dean Mighell didn’t break the law did he?
JULIA GILLARD: No but his comments are right over the line Neil, right over the line.
NEIL MITCHELL: Why?
JULIA GILLARD: I am not going to repeat them on radio, I suspect that wouldn’t be something your listeners want to hear. His comments were way over the line.
NEIL MITCHELL: A union leader using bad language, I mean you have been known to use bad language yourself.
JULIA GILLARD: Oh Neil, let’s be clear here. Sure, if I drop my suitcase on my foot I can say the occasional word; there is a difference between that and getting on a stage and using that language…
NEIL MITCHELL: But it was a union meeting.
JULIA GILLARD: …using allusions to people being paedophiles, those sorts of things. That is right over any line that anybody would find acceptable and because of that Kevin acted decisively yesterday.
NEIL MITCHELL: So Dean Mighell has been expelled because of bad taste, is it?
JULIA GILLARD: Dean Mighell has been expelled because his comments are way over the line and they are the sort of conduct that we find unacceptable. We don’t want to see an industrial movement that behaves itself like that and it was made perfectly clear to Dean yesterday.
NEIL MITCHELL: But was it his language, was it his turn of phrase or was it what he did in 1993, getting pay rises for his members?
JULIA GILLARD: All of the above interrelate, don’t they Neil….
NEIL MITCHELL: What did he do wrong? What did he do wrong in getting that pay rise for his members?
JULIA GILLARD: The language was right over the line, the language bespeaks of an attitude that is over the line and it is unacceptable. And Kevin made that clear yesterday in, what I think, was a very firm, focused and decisive act.
NEIL MITCHELL: So what did he do wrong, in getting that pay rise for his members?
JULIA GILLARD: Neil, what he did wrong and you obviously are familiar with the language he used, he used language that was right over the line, it was unacceptable, it was berating third parties in a way that is completely unacceptable and…
NEIL MITCHELL: I understand your point.
JULIA GILLARD: …it is an attitude that doesn’t have a place in the modern labour movement.
NEIL MITCHELL: I understand the point about the language. Has he been expelled just for the language and I repeat the question, what did he do wrong when he got that pay rise for his members?
JULIA GILLARD: In describing getting the pay rise for the members he exhibited an industrial attitude which is unacceptable in the modern age and in addition to that, his language at that meeting was unacceptable in the way it referred to third parties and its allusions to their conduct and it was right over the line, Kevin said it was right over the line, I thought it was thuggish, I thought it was stupid, I thought it was unacceptable, we made those views clear yesterday and Kevin decisively acted.
NEIL MITCHELL: What did he, I will try once more, I promise the last time. What did he do wrong in getting that pay rise for his members in 1993? You are objecting to his language, fine, although this is coming from the party that turned the word scumbag into popular usage but what did he do wrong?
JULIA GILLARD: I am objecting to an attitude that is about industrial thuggery and that is what the language spoke of and…
NEIL MITCHELL: So he did nothing wrong, is that right?
JULIA GILLARD: … that is what the language meant. I can’t make it clearer than that, he was…
NEIL MITCHELL: You can make it clearer because I have asked you four times now, what did he do wrong?
JULIA GILLARD: And I have answered you exactly the same way four times.
NEIL MITCHELL: Yeah, language, you have referred to the language. I am talking about his actions, how were his actions wrong?
JULIA GILLARD: When you use language, it means something. When you use language that is being used to describe conduct, that conduct…
NEIL MITCHELL: So on that debate [inaudible]
JULIA GILLARD: …that conduct is part of an attitude that in our view…
NEIL MITCHELL: Ok.
JULIA GILLARD: … shouldn’t be in the industrial landscape in the modern age.
NEIL MITCHELL: Was he wrong to con employers into paying more than he was willing to accept, was he wrong to get 10 per cent for his workers rather than 6 per cent?
JULIA GILLARD: It is wrong to breach industrial law…
NEIL MITCHELL: But he didn’t.
JULIA GILLARD: I can’t tell you everything to do with the circumstances of the dispute that you refer to…
NEIL MITCHELL: No but you agreed with me that he didn’t break the law.
JULIA GILLARD: …which happened in the early 1990s? So Neil I am not going to speculate…
NEIL MITCHELL: But you told me he didn’t break the law, at the beginning of this interview you agreed he didn’t break the law.
JULIA GILLARD: Well Neil I can’t go through the circumstances of a 1993-1994 dispute. All I know about that dispute…
NEIL MITCHELL: So is it possible that he broke the law?
JULIA GILLARD: All I know about that dispute is what Dean said in this tape and the attitude displayed in the tape is an attitude in terms of industrial thuggery that is not appropriate in modern Australia.
NEIL MITCHELL: So he has been expelled for his attitude, not because of what he did.
JULIA GILLARD: He has been expelled for language and conduct which we find unacceptable and over the line.
NEIL MITCHELL: Do you remember a bloke called Mark Latham and his language? Do you remember Paul Keating, one of the foulest mouths I have ever come across? Who objected to him?
JULIA GILLARD: Well Neil, Kevin Rudd is Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party today, I am Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party today. We are calling it as we see it.
NEIL MITCHELL: You were in trouble yourself for saying shit publicly, weren’t you?
JULIA GILLARD: And I freely conceded to you Neil that when I drop a suitcase on my foot or whether, in that case, I dropped a sausage at a barbeque, I am capable of using the occasional word but Neil you can’t sustain an argument that basically, using a word like that when you have dropped something is comparable with what Dean Mighell did, that is not a rational argument.
NEIL MITCHELL: I would say that he picked his audience, he was at a union meeting and yes he used bad language and he has got a shocking turn of phrase, I mean I thought what he said about John Howard being a skid mark was offensive, didn’t you?
JULIA GILLARD: Yes and I went to an ETU meeting and specifically repudiated those remarks because they were offensive, they were disgusting and they don’t have a place in modern politics.
NEIL MITCHELL: So he has been expelled because of bad manners, is that it really?
JULIA GILLARD: Neil, I have explained to you he has been expelled because of language and conduct which we saw as right over the line.
NEIL MITCHELL: So if you have any other union leaders using similar language and similar tactics, will they be expelled?
JULIA GILLARD: Kevin will be tough on these matters, he showed he was tough yesterday and he will be continuously tough on them.
NEIL MITCHELL: The building and construction unions in this town has a no ticket no start policy which is basically illegal, will the leader of that be expelled, Martin King?
JULIA GILLARD It would be in breach of the freedom of association provisions that are part of Labor’s policy and…
NEIL MITCHELL: So will you investigate that and expel Martin King if they’re doing that?
JULIA GILLARD: If there is no ticket, no start breaches and breaches of the law then that should be dealt with by the Australian Building and Construction Commission. That is…
NEIL MITCHELL: Martin King also swears a bit and if he is doing these sorts of things, are you going to expel him? You have set a precedent here.
JULIA GILLARD: What I have said to you Neil is Kevin was tough yesterday, you can’t get me to speculate on a million things that may or may not happen. He was tough yesterday; he will be tough everyday…
NEIL MITCHELL: Well can I…
JULIA GILALRD: If there is a comparable incident that comes to Kevin’s attention then he will be tough about that as well.
NEIL MITCHELL: So union leaders are on notice they could be expelled?
JULIA GILLARD: People are on notice that there is a line in industrial relations, there is a line in conduct that ought not be crossed.
NEIL MITCHELL: Is scumbag an acceptable word?
JULIA GILLARD: I wouldn’t use it.
NEIL MITCHELL: Would you expel somebody for using it?
JULIA GILLARD: Obviously Neil you are going to go back to Paul Keating and his use of…
NEIL MITCHELL: And Mark Latham, a bit more recent, you were his mate. You have got to admit he had a turn of phrase which makes Dean Mighell look calm.
JULIA GILLARD: The things Dean Mighell said, the allusions about the people who work at the ABCC they were grossly unacceptable and they’ve been dealt with. You can’t get me to go back in time…
NEIL MITCHELL: Fair enough.
JULIA GILLARD: …and say what could have happened five, ten, fifteen, twenty, fifty years ago. Kevin is the leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party now, I am the Deputy Leader and we made a judgement call yesterday and I defend it as the right judgement call.
NEIL MITCHELL: Did Kevin Rudd consult you before it happened?
JULIA GILALRD: Yes.
NEIL MITCHELL: And did you consult others in the party?
JULIA GILLARD: No, I spoke to Kevin about it.
NEIL MITCHELL: But nobody else in the Party, you have got three former ACTU presidents there were any of them consulted?
JULIA GILLARD: No.
NEIL MITCHELL: Why not?
JULIA GILLARD: This is a leadership decision and it was taken at a leadership level.
NEIL MITCHELL: It was a Party decision wasn’t it? You don’t expel somebody from the Party, since when can someone from the Parliamentary Leader expel people?
JULIA GILLARD: Kevin Rudd, yesterday, directed the National Secretary to obtain Dean Mighell’s resignation and that’s what occurred. Of course, the Leader, Kevin consults with me frequently, I am the Deputy Leader, you would expect that to happen in a political party. In the same way I suspect that John Howard consults with Mark Vaile and Peter Costello about some key matters.
NEIL MITCHELL: Is it wrong, in principle is it wrong for a union leader to trick an employer into paying more than they intended?
JULIA GILLARD: It’s not wrong for a union leader to engage in tough negotiations. It is always wrong to cross the law. What…
NEIL MITCHELL: He hasn’t crossed the law.
JULIA GILLARD: …I am just about to say Neil, what the word ‘trick’ means in that context I don’t know.
NEIL MITCHELL: Well you know what happened here. He has convinced one employer that another employer has already caved in and then they both caved in. Is that wrong?
JULIA GILLARD: Well our industrial policy would actually say people have to bargain in good faith which would require people to be forthright. I want people to be honest with each other in negotiations, I think that is the best way to negotiate.
NEIL MITCHELL: Fair enough, so it was wrong. Why have you decided to retain the Australian Business and Construction Commission, the watchdog on the construction industry?
JULIA GILLARD: Yes, it’s the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
NEIL MITCHELL: Building, I’m sorry.
JULIA GILLARD: There are a lot of acronyms in industrial relations, too many alphabet soups but…
NEIL MITCHELL: Sorry, Australian Building and Construction Commission which is really the industry watchdog.
JULIA GILLARD: Yes, it is an industry watchdog. What we said in our policy, when we announced it is we would have tough building industry compliance through a specialist division of the inspectorate of Fair Work Australia. Currently, we have the ABCC. It came to my attention that there was confusion and certainly apprehension in the industry that the ABCC would be abolished or run down first and then there would be a period where there wasn’t anything before we built the new compliance division. That was never my intention; my intention was always to have a seamless transition from one to the other. So I spelt out yesterday the best way of doing that is to have the ABCC stay, and we have nominated the date, 31st January 2010, then you can be building up the new watchdog and do a seamless handover.
NEIL MITCHELL: Was there any consultation with the Party on that?
JULIA GILLARD: No, I made that decision and we announced it yesterday. I announced it at the National Press Club.
NEIL MITCHELL: Fair to say the unions won’t be happy about it?
JULIA GILLARD: No they weren’t happy about it but it is the judgement call I made and I think it is the appropriate judgement call.
NEIL MITCHELL: Can you tell me whether any businesses went broke as a result of what Dean Mighell did?
JULIA GILLARD: I don’t know Neil, I can’t tell you.
NEIL MITCHELL: Isn’t that relevant?
JULIA GILLARD: In what sense?
NEIL MITCHELL: Well in the sense he is being accused of doing something dreadful here, did he drive anybody to the wall or did he just use bad language?
JULIA GILLARD: We judged on the matters that became public yesterday.
NEIL MITCHELL: Is that the first you knew about it yesterday?
JULIA GILLARD: Yes.
NEIL MITCHELL: You weren’t aware of what he did back in 1993?
JULIA GILLARD: No I was not Neil.
NEIL MITCHELL: Really?
JULIA GILLARD: No I wasn’t.
NEIL MITCHELL: You would have been aware of the settlement, above 10 per cent which was above the odds?
JULIA GILLARD: No I wasn’t Neil.
NEIL MITCHELL: That’s strange.
JULIA GILLARD: I mean, 1993 it may have been in the newspapers I don’t know, I don’t recall, obviously we are talking more than a decade later here but I have got no personal knowledge of the circumstances of the 1993 dispute.
NEIL MITCHELL: Did you see the transcript of what he said before it was made public?
JULIA GILLARD: No, I did not.
NEIL MITCHELL: So the first you knew of it was when it appeared?
JULIA GILLARD: Yes, that’s right.
NEIL MITCHELL: How much money has the ETU provided the Labor Party?
JULIA GILLARD: Look I don’t know that Neil, donations are a matter dealt with by the National Secretary.
NEIL MITCHELL: Why did you kiss him?
JULIA GILLARD: I was walking into an ETU shop stewards meeting, I was actually there to deliver a very firm message. The very firm message I was there to deliver was that the statements Dean Mighell had made at National Conference about Mr Howard were unacceptable, that some of the ways that he was characterising Labor’s industrial relations policies were wrong, that Labor’s industrial relations policy was different from what the ETU wanted and I was there to explain those differences. In the modern world, when you move round in professional circumstances, as I do, sometimes men shake hands with you, sometimes they kiss you and there we have it.
NEIL MITCHELL: Peter Costello I think is claiming that the union handed over I think $3.8 million over the years to the Labor Party, will all that be returned?
JULIA GILLARD: As I have said, the National Secretary deals with these matters.
NEIL MITCHELL: One last question. What sort of car do you drive?
JULIA GILLARD: I drive a Toyota. I live in Altona; you could actually go on a walk from my place to the Toyota factory so I drive a Toyota made in the factory.
NEIL MITCHELL: Are you going to buy a hybrid?
JULIA GILLARD: The problem with a hybrid of course is you can’t get one that is manufactured locally. That’s why we have created a $500 million fund to help our local industry make the move to hybrid cars. Obviously, hybrid cars, energy efficient cars, cars that make a difference for climate change are going to be what the world wants to have. So we have got to get in the business of making them. We are going to help the Australian industry get into that business and when there is a locally produced hybrid car I will be very, very pleased to drive it.
NEIL MITCHELL: You wouldn’t buy it until it is a locally produced one?
JULIA GILLARD: It’s important to me Neil, I live in Melbourne’s West, I live very close to the Toyota factory, I am a supporter of Australian industry. I don’t try and pretend me with my one car is the difference, obviously Toyota is a big and very profitable factory but I like to support it by my choices and I choose to drive a Toyota.
NEIL MITCHELL: It is the symbolism.
JULIA GILLARD: It’s so local to me Neil, I literally could walk there, people I know work there, many of my constituents work there and I want to support it. But I want to see our local industry and obviously its not just about Toyota, it’s Ford, it’s Holden, it’s Mitsubishi, I want to see our local industry get in what is going to be the new age of motor vehicles, the green cars and we have got the big package of assistance there to help them do it.
NEIL MITCHELL: Are you aware Kevin Rudd has announced today he is buying a hybrid?
JULIA GILLARD: No I wasn’t aware of that…
NEIL MITCHELL: Maybe you better advise him, you can only get Japanese ones.
JULIA GILLARD: Oh look, he is absolutely aware of that because the reason we did the big industry package is to help our industry get into the business of making green cars.
NEIL MITCHELL: Should he be buying a hybrid?
JULIA GILLARD: Neil, there is a choice here and I understand the conflict in the choice…
NEIL MITCHELL: But you have just told us all about supporting the local industry yet he is buying a hybrid.
JULIA GILLARD: Yes, and I am just trying to explain to you Neil, there is a choice here and there are two things that people would think about. People want to drive green cars; people want to support local Australian industry. Tragically, at the moment, you can’t do both. Labor’s got a big policy to make sure in the future we can do both. Unfortunately, today you have got to make the choice.
NEIL MITCHELL: Thank you for your time, are you still willing to be the Shadow Minister in charge of Mitchell?
JULIA GILLARD: Oh always.
NEIL MITCHELL: Thank you very much.