Rudd Government 1 year anniversary
E & O E – PROOF ONLY
REPORTER: (inaudible) Government Minister and how you think things are going?
JENNY MACKLIN: Being here at Reconciliation Place really brings back the enormous importance of the national apology that the Prime Minister made on the 13th February. It really has demonstrated the nature of our Government wanting to build a bridge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and everywhere I go people talk to me about how significant that’s been. We’ve made a commitment to close the gap in life expectancy, and in many other respects between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. That’s our task in front of us, we want to do that in a respectful way and that’s why today is such a significant day here at Reconciliation Place.
We’ve also made some significant achievements for pensioners and carers, for families. From the 8th December as part of our Economic Security Strategy
$10.4 billion will be distributed to pensioners and carers and to families with children to help those people who are finding it hard to make ends meet and of course to also help the economy.
We’ve got a major pension review underway to make sure that in future our pensioners can look forward to an adequate standard of living. We know how important it is to support families. We’ve made major changes to help them with the cost of childcare, major tax cuts that have helped families, all of these changes I think have really made a difference to families, to pensioners and carers over our first twelve months.
REPORTER: The Prime Minister is just on his way back from APEC as we speak, has he spent too much time overseas this year do you think?
JENNY MACKLIN: I think what Australians understand is that our Prime Minister is making sure that the world is going to have the sort of leadership that it needs. Of course, from Australia, but also from all the other countries of the world, who are together demonstrating that they understand that we have to address the world economic crisis with all countries working together, not separately. It’s critical that Australia is part of that. We’ve already made one very significant move as part of our Economic Security Strategy to address the impact of the global financial crisis on Australia. Those payments will start to be paid very shortly, that is very significant for families and for pensioners and carers and we hope that the result of that will be seen through the Australian economy very soon.
REPORTER: The Rudd Government’s been in office for a year, do you think it’s done enough in terms of bridging the gap?
JENNY MACKLIN: We have a huge task in front of us to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. It’s very important that we do that in a respectful way and that’s why today is so significant. But we’re also making the changes that are necessary which will take some time in education, in health, in housing. We’re got for the first time ever, the biggest agreement with the Northern Territory Government to build more than 750 new homes, significantly upgrade 2,500 other homes. We’re also investing in housing in the remote areas of the Northern Territory, in Queensland, so we know that there’s a huge task in front of us but we’ve taken some very significant steps forward.
REPORTER: And when do you hope that these changes will start to have a positive effect?
JENNY MACKLIN: We can see some positive effects every day. Yesterday I was down in Portland with the Gunditjmara people. Already you can see as a result of their successful native title claim, the way in which they are engaging with local industry, you can see the positive impact on their community. We’ve got an agreement with many many companies who are coming together as part of the Australian employment covenant. As a result of that there’s a commitment to employ 50,000 Indigenous people in jobs. We know that making sure employment is at the heart of our closing the gap strategy we’ll see the changes that are necessary for people to have a better life.