Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

To Indigenous report card, Pacific Brands, pensions

*** E & OE – Proof only ***

Subject: Indigenous report card, Pacific Brands, pensions

JOURNALIST: Report card seems like more talk and still no action. When are we likely to see some (inaudible)

JENNY MACKLIN: What you’ve seen from the first year of the Rudd Labor Government is an historic level of commitment to make sure we begin to tackle the very tough issues if we’re going to close the gap. Last year at the Council of Australian Governments, Governments across the country agreed to commit $4.6 billion of extra money, of new money to housing, health, employment, the areas that really will enable us to close the gap. What you’ll see over a period of time is houses getting built, what we want to do is tackle chronic illness. These are tough issues but we’re determined to do our best.

JOURNALIST: Minister what do you make of the Pacific Brand CEO being given a massive salary and then recently sacking 1800 people?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I can just imagine how the people who lost their jobs feel today when they see that payout, and I just say to the shareholders, it’s your responsibility to treat the people who are losing their jobs fairly and that means addressing these extraordinary payouts.

JOURNALIST: How would you describe that sort of money in terms, you know for a company who clearly failed to perform under the leadership (inaudible)

JENNY MACKLIN: Well it really demonstrates how out of touch they are with the attitudes of the Australian people to these sorts of payouts. I think ordinary people in the street just, well they say to me, how can this happen? How can on the one hand all of these people lose their jobs and on the other executives walk away with these massive payouts? So it is something that shareholders really have a responsibility to consider and to take into account the public’s view which is, it’s really just way out of proportion.

JOURNALIST: Why don’t the Government step in and force some sort of regulation to CEO’s salaries?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well we’re really saying to the shareholders, this is your responsibility. This is a responsibility of shareholders to get this right and to make sure that you both take your responsibilities to your employees seriously as well as making sure that we don’t see these extraordinary payouts.

JOURNALIST: And what guarantees can the Government give the pensioners won’t be hit with a reduction in their pensions?

JENNY MACKLIN: We’ve indicated for some time now that we intend to pursue pension reform in the Budget. We made a major down payment to pensioners in December, $1,400 to single pensioners, $2,100 to couple pensioners. We understood then and we understand now that pensioners are finding it difficult to make ends meet. I’ll receive the Report of the Pension Review shortly; we’ll consider it very carefully and act in the Budget.

JOURNALIST2: So you’re not ruling out reducing some pensions?

JENNY MACKLIN: What we’ll do is consider the Report very carefully and respond in the Budget.

JOURNALIST: Minister on the timing of the progress of the report (inaudible) next year and future years when will the progress report actually be handed down?

JENNY MACKLIN: I think the important thing for Indigenous people is to see the historic level of commitment that we’re making, $4.6 billion of extra new money that’s being put into additional houses that will be built, houses that will be repaired, additional health services to address the terrible level of chronic illness. Yesterday the Prime Minister announced additional money to deal with trachoma, a scourge of a disease that really we should be able to deal with in this country, so we’re making historic commitments. People want to see these commitments and see them implemented, that’s what’s important.

JOURNALIST: But isn’t it just additional money, I mean isn’t it again just additional money and that it goes no where?

JENNY MACKLIN: I think if you don’t have a home, additional money for housing is absolutely critical. If you were living in a home with twenty people you’d think that an additional $2 billion for housing was a pretty good thing.