Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Prime Minister Julia Gillard – ABC Melbourne Drive with Lindy Burns

Program: ABC Drive

E & OE – proof only

LINDY BURNS: Minister, it’s good to have you along.


LINDY BURNS: Does it feel different?

JENNY MACKLIN: I can tell you that it has been an extraordinary week, very, very emotional for everybody. So I think the best thing everybody’s feeling right now is they’re very pleased to be either on their way home or at home with their families. It’s been a big week.

LINDY BURNS: Is, how emotional did it get at any stage, not just for you, but for your colleagues?

JENNY MACKLIN: I think it was a very emotional time, if you think of what we have been through over the last two and a half, three years. Kevin Rudd did take us to an extraordinary election victory just two and a half years ago against a long-term Liberal Government and so it was a very big decision for us to make as a Caucus on Thursday morning to change the leadership, but I do think that there was an overwhelming desire to do that so you can imagine how emotional it was for everybody concerned.

LINDY BURNS: There wasn’t a vote in the end which I’m sure was a great relief to everybody, but if there had been a ballot who would you have voted for?

JENNY MACKLIN: I had indicated to Julia that she would have my support. I’d done that late the night before. I do think though, and I want to say this publicly that I think it was extremely generous of Kevin Rudd not to call a vote in the caucus. A vote in these circumstances are always very, very difficult for everybody concerned, and I think he demonstrated his great affection for the Labor Party and the Government and also the country by not calling on a vote which would I think have been very, very difficult for everybody.

LINDY BURNS: When did it become clear to you that this sort of path was going to take place? Was it a great surprise at the time?

JENNY MACKLIN: Wednesday night.

LINDY BURNS: Oh right.

JENNY MACKLIN: So it, of course there’s been some rumblings in the media but it became very clear on Wednesday night when Julia went around to Kevin Rudd’s office and indicated that she was thinking in this regard. Of course I wasn’t in the room so I don’t know what was said, but it did become public at that time that she was with him and so there was a lot of discussion of course amongst us all that evening.

LINDY BURNS: Have you spoken or seen Kevin Rudd since that time?

JENNY MACKLIN: No, I haven’t. I can only imagine how difficult it is for him. How painful it is for him and his family. I have spoken to some of his staff and of course it’s very difficult for them as well.

LINDY BURNS: Were you surprised that he made the announcement that he intends to contest the next election?

JENNY MACKLIN: I think these are very difficult issues for leaders. I’ve been in politics for quite a while and have seen how hard these circumstances are for many leaders as they either decide because of their own party’s decision or because the electorate makes a decision, so I of course respect whatever decision he decides to make.

LINDY BURNS: What was the mood in Cabinet today though?

JENNY MACKLIN: It was very professional. Of course we all know each other well and we’re used to working together well as an effective Cabinet and we had a good political discussion and then of course got on with the business of the day.

LINDY BURNS: Was there any discussion at the end, was there a round of applause for the new Prime Minister, or any indication of that?

JENNY MACKLIN: One of the important things that we did today was recognise the very significant contribution of Kevin Rudd and I think today was the occasion to do that and Julia was very generous in her remarks.

LINDY BURNS: Are you expecting a Cabinet reshuffle?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well obviously there’s going to have to be a little bit of a change because of Julia’s position as you indicated at the start of this interview, but she’ll make those decisions I’m sure very shortly. She’s indicated that she’s going to have discussions with her Cabinet colleagues and I’m sure that’ll happen once she gets a chance to draw breath.

LINDY BURNS: Of course that is the case. You are one of those Cabinet colleagues, is there lobbying going on, is that the appropriate thing that happens at this time?

JENNY MACKLIN: Maybe by some people, not by me.

LINDY BURNS: Not by you.

JENNY MACKLIN: I think I’ll have a chance to talk with her and we’ll do that possibly over the weekend.

LINDY BURNS: Are you expecting an announcement very early on in the week? I mean surely with the importance of her portfolios given what they are, that it’s quite urgent that somebody steps into those roles?

JENNY MACKLIN: I’m sure she’ll do it as quickly as she can, but I know she’ll also want to take a consultative approach, that’s the sort of approach she has to her job. I think you would have seen as Deputy Prime Minister over the last two and a half years, I think this was particularly the case to the way in which she got rid of Work Choices. She really put in an enormous amount of effort into consulting with business and the Trade Union Movement about the changes that were necessary and I’m sure she’ll bring that approach to her Prime Ministership.

LINDY BURNS: The mining tax issue, it certainly was the major story to come out today Minister. It seems to, and it is at the top of the agenda. Has the Prime Minister given any kind of deadline to Cabinet as to when she wants a resolution?

JENNY MACKLIN: She certainly hasn’t indicated publicly or privately to me when the, whether or not there is a deadline and I think once again you’d be aware that she’s wanting to say to the mining industry, she’s said this very clearly publicly, that she wants to invite them in. I think she’s demonstrated that she wants a different approach to the mining industry and they too have already indicated that they’re willing to, as she put it, come through the door. So….

LINDY BURNS: Even if it’s at the expense of some income?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think we have to let both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have these discussions and they’ll be going on.

LINDY BURNS: Are you surprised, or were you surprised at Lindsay Tanner’s announcement yesterday?

JENNY MACKLIN: I was, even though I sit next to him in the Parliament, and as you could imagine both of us being Victorian members and being pretty close, but nevertheless I do also understand how hard it’s been for him with his little kids. So when you think about it, it wasn’t all that surprising in some ways. It’s amazing that he’s been in the Parliament with small children for such a time, but…..

LINDY BURNS: Do you expect though with his portfolio that he’ll hang on to that now with this reshuffle, or will this be a way to ease him out?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well, once again that’s really a matter for him to discuss with Julia and I’m sure that’ll happen very soon.

LINDY BURNS: And finally, I guess Minister, is there a sense, I’m not sure being a female Minister in a Cabinet of a female Prime Minister, did you think that that would happen during your time as a Minister?

JENNY MACKLIN: Oh, that’s a very hard question to answer because politics is a fast moving activity I’d have to say. But I think it is something that she has earned more than anything as a result of her extraordinary talent and I have absolutely no doubt that she comes to this, of course it is very important for women, for Australian women that she is the first female Prime Minister. But I think very quickly everybody will really see her as a Prime Minister that is going to deliver the sort of Australia that I think most people want. A place where hard work is respected and where we have the sort of approach that recognises that we do things for each other when people fall on hard times. There the sorts of values that she has.

LINDY BURNS: But personally, did you expect to see a female Prime Minister in your lifetime?

JENNY MACKLIN: I don’t think I think about it. I don’t think I thought about it like that Lindy but I’m very, very pleased that she’s there.

LINDY BURNS: Thank you very much for your time this afternoon. Jenny Macklin who holds the portfolios of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in the now Gillard Government.