ROSS PEAKE March 28, 2012
A senior federal minister from Queensland is calling on Julia Gillard to explain her unpopular policies in the wake of Labor's shattering defeat in the state election.
The Prime Minister conceded yesterday her government had to change its approach to respond to voters' anger but she would not bend on key policies.
''As a Labor Party in Queensland, we need to listen but my job is to both listen and lead and that's what I will be doing as Prime Minister,'' she said in Seoul where she was attending a nuclear summit with world leaders.
She will continue with implementing the carbon tax and mining tax on July 1.
''I understand that they are complicated policies and that they are not the kind of thing that is instantaneously popular but you become prime minister of the nation to make the decisions that are right for the nation's future,'' she said.
Queensland-based Trade Minister Craig Emerson said federal Labor faced ''real challenges'' in Queensland and other states.
''We will now use the opportunity presented by having passed two major pieces of legislation - the mining tax and also the carbon pricing mechanism - to explain the benefits of that to the community,'' he said. ''We need to do more of that, there's no doubt about it.''
While Ms Gillard said the election was decided overwhelmingly on state issues, the newly-installed Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is pointing to federal implications from the landslide.
He said the carbon tax was extremely unpopular and again hinted at supporting a constitutional challenge.
''They proceed with this at their peril,'' Mr Newman said.
''They really do need to look at what has happened here. On the carbon tax, I strongly recommend that they think again.
''You cannot place a tax on the states, there is an argument that putting a tax on the electricity generators in Queensland is a tax on the Queensland state government, so that is something that can be explored.''
The $23 per tonne tax on the carbon emissions of the nation's biggest polluters comes into force on July 1.
On Monday, Ms Gillard adopted John Howard's strategy by putting her trustworthiness at the centre of the political debate.
Yesterday she dismissed the results of the latest Newspoll, which put federal Labor's support at its lowest since last September.
''I could wake up every morning and worry about the polling, or I could wake up every morning thinking about the future of the nation - I choose to do the latter,'' she said.
Federal Labor's primary support has dropped three points to 28 per cent since the last poll a fortnight ago, and has fallen seven points in a month.
In the Queensland election, the state Labor Party won just 27 per cent of the vote and suffered a crushing defeat, losing 43 seats in the Queensland Parliament.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott claimed the Prime Minister was in denial about the scale of the defeat in Queensland.
■ Meanwhile, Ms Gillard wants the international nuclear watchdog beefed up to help ensure radioactive material never ends up in terrorist hands.
Ms Gillard used a speech to about 50 world leaders at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul yesterday to advocate for a wider and clearer mandate for the International Atomic Energy Agency. She said it was critical that nuclear material was kept safe from terrorists.
''The consequences of a nuclear terrorist act are almost unimaginable,'' she said after the summit. ''It would not only be the immediate loss of life - though that would be grave - but the consequences for the whole world's perceptions of its security.'' with AAP