Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Leadership, National Disability Insurance Scheme

E & OE – Proof only

JENNY MACKLIN: Thank you everyone for being here today. I’m very pleased to be here with my colleague the Member for McEwan, Rob Mitchell and we’re here to talk with carers, with people with disability and other service providers about a National Disability Insurance Scheme. We’re very, very determined to deliver a National Disability Insurance Scheme and even on this day when there are so many other issues in the media, I’m very, very pleased to have had the opportunity to listen to young Emma, a young girl born with a disability, speak with us today. And Toby, a carer, who’s also indicated to us why it is so important that this Labor Government deliver a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

I do want to take this opportunity to also make some remarks about the leadership. I want to indicate my very strong support for Julia Gillard as Prime Minister and I will be supporting her on Monday. I do feel that this Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has made an extraordinary contribution to our country over the last eighteen months. If it wasn’t for Julia Gillard’s extraordinary negotiating skills we would not be in Government. She has delivered a Labor Government and made sure that over the last eighteen months significant reforms have been delivered in our country that no previous Prime Minister has been able to deliver. It is because of her skill and determination that we will have a price on carbon on the 1st July. It is because of her skill and determination that we will have a tax on super profits in the mining industry. Nobody else has delivered these major reforms. She has delivered them and she’s delivered them in very difficult circumstances. It’s also the case that she has had to withstand a shocking level of undermining over the last eighteen months. I think we are all aware of that and today is the day to be clear that she has not only withstood the difficulties of a minority Government, she has withstood the difficulties of terrible undermining of her leadership, and it’s gone on for the last eighteen months.

I want to say that one of the things that concerns me most about comments that have been made over the last twenty-four hours is that some supporters of Mr Rudd are suggesting that if he’s not successful on Monday, then they will continue to campaign against Julia Gillard as Prime Minister. I think what needs to happen on Monday is that the Labor leadership be clarified once and for all. We need to get a very clear outcome, and in my view a very, very strong show of support for the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

I also want to make some remarks about poker machine reform. I’ve seen comments in the media overnight that some of our colleagues have reportedly been in conversation with members of, representatives of the clubs industry, suggesting that the clubs should continue to campaign against our Caucus colleagues. I think this is reprehensible behaviour. The Cabinet made a decision to pursue reform to support problem gamblers. We are still determined to do everything we can to support problem gamblers. It is not acceptable for some members of our Caucus to go behind the backs of Cabinet members, behind the backs of Caucus colleagues and to encourage campaigns against other Caucus colleagues. So these are reports in the media and if they are true they are very, very serious indeed. My support on Monday will be very strongly with the Prime Minister. I think it’s incumbent on all of us to make sure that this issue is resolved and resolved urgently on Monday. I’ll just ask my colleague to make a few remarks.

ROB MITCHELL: Thank you Jenny. And I wish to put on the record again my strong support for Julia Gillard. As Jenny said, Julia’s delivered us some amazing outcomes and amazing reforms in probably the most difficult circumstances a PM’s ever faced in my lifetime, in a minority Government with her negotiating skills have come through very, very strong. So my support will be with Julia Gillard come Monday for the ballot. Now also we’re here today for the NDIS. This is something that’s very important to all Australians. This is about insuring that we get the proper care and the proper support for those with disabilities. It’s something that the Gillard Labor Government has brought on and it’s something that we want to work extremely hard for and get the right outcome for people who need it.

JOURNALIST: Minister, do you feel like all this is quite destabilising for the Labor Party?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well there’s no question that it’s meant that instead of talking today about a National Disability Insurance Scheme, we’re having to talk about this matter of the leadership. That’s why I think it is critical that the leadership of the Labor Party is resolved once and for all on Monday with a very strong vote for the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

JOURNALIST: Minister, Kevin Rudd’s leadership has been described as dysfunctional. What made it dysfunctional?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I don’t want to go back over history, but what I do know is that it’s Julia Gillard’s leadership in a minority Government that has delivered a price on carbon, delivered the mining tax. These are changes that have been very, very difficult to achieve. It’s Julia Gillard and her leadership that is committing us to the development of a National Disability Insurance Scheme, something which people with disability and their carers have been waiting in generations for. It’s Julia Gillard who will deliver these major changes and that’s why she’ll have my support.

JOURNALIST: Kevin Rudd names Kim Carr by name, saying he was a Minister who was, a leading politician who was dissatisfied with Julia Gillard. How many other people are there in the Cabinet who are dissatisfied?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think you can hear from a range of Cabinet Ministers who’ve indicated their very strong support today for the Prime Minister. I think if you’re going to be a Cabinet Minister, it’s critical that you not only take that position and carry it out to the best of your ability, you also do it with loyalty. And that’s why these reports about people going behind the backs of the Cabinet, going behind the backs of Caucus colleagues on poker machine reform, are of such great concern to me.

JOURNALIST: If I can ask about the NDIS?


JOURNALIST: So it sounds like these carers need it today in coming years, not 2018 when it’s proposed? How soon can we get this done?

JENNY MACKLIN: You’re dead right. People who’ve been caring for relatives with a disability, particularly for older carers, this is urgent. For people with disability themselves who want to live an independent life to the best of their ability, they want this as urgently as possible. And so does this Labor Government. We want to get on with it. We don’t want this constant distraction of backgrounding. This Labor Government will get on with delivering a National Disability Insurance Scheme. I have to say that one thing that’s very clear is that Tony Abbott will not.

JOURNALIST: Now you mentioned there were concerns over eligibility for the NDIS. Can you guarantee that everyone who needs support will get the support there?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well what I’ve said today is that we really want to encourage discussion about these critical questions, eligibility for disability care and support under a National Disability Insurance Scheme, the nature of the governance for such a scheme, how it will be funded. All of these are critical questions that the Government is working on. We know that has to be answered but of course we want to get those answers with people who have a disability and with carers. And that’s exactly what we want to discuss with people here today.

JOURNALIST: I just want to ask one more quick question. The polls obviously show that Kevin Rudd is more popular with voters than Julia Gillard. How much more difficult does that make her task on Monday?

JENNY MACKLIN: I think what’s critical is that you have a Government and a Prime Minister who is able to deliver the big reforms that our country needs. And a Prime Minister then deserves to have a Cabinet and a Caucus who will get in and support her and not undermine her at every turn. That undermining makes it almost impossible for her to get out and describe the outstanding reforms that have been delivered in the most difficult circumstances. That’s why it is critical that this leadership issue is resolved on Monday and resolved once and for all.