Gillard maps out priorities before polls
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WOODFORD, Qld, Dec 30 AAP
December 31 2012, 06:17AM
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has singled out education and the National Disability Insurance Scheme as two key areas her government will focus on before calling a federal election next year.
Ms Gillard has indicated she won't go to the polls in the first half of the year as she took time out from her Christmas holiday to attend a forum with former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke at the Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland on Sunday.
She says the government will continue to work to keep the economy strong and grow jobs, but that the other two issues are her "two big ambitions for 2013 before we get around to winning that election", which is not due until October.
"I want to see us launch the National Disability Insurance Scheme on the first of July," she told the festival crowd.
"Then the other thing I've got a really big focus on is delivering on further education reforms.
"We had a fair old wake-up call in international testing. We can make sure our kids can get a world-class education."
Education Minister Peter Garrett this month used disappointing results from the NAPLAN and international testing to call for the states to get on board Labor's proposed Gonski schools funding reforms, which will require all governments to put up a total of $6.5 billion more a year for education.
Ms Gillard said on Sunday the government had already made changes to a number of schools that had been struggling.
"What we've got to do now is take it and upscale, and give it to every school and make a difference to every school," she said.
Ms Gillard ticked off getting the carbon tax introduced on July 1 this year, despite not having a majority in the parliament, as a significant achievement against "a fast and furious and hard debate".
"I think we can sit here on the cusp of 2013 and say `we've got that done now, it's going to start working in our economy now, it's going to start unleashing cleaner energy sources'," she said.
The introduction of the carbon tax was in some ways made better by the negotiations needed in a minority government, Ms Gillard said.
"It meant we could work across both houses - the House and the Senate - not just put something in the Senate and have it knocked over, which was the history of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, but actually work in a way which the proposition that went to the parliament was going to get carried," she said.
Labor had got its policies through despite a hung parliament, Ms Gillard said, pointing to the carbon tax, healthcare funding, the Queensland flood levy, and education and aged-care reforms. But she did not mention asylum-seeker policy.
"The really big decisions this government's taken would be effectively the same," she said.
Ms Gillard added she was also proud of becoming Australia's first female prime minister.
"If it's inspired girls out there to think this is an occupation for them, if it's inspired a generation of boys to think that it's just a really normally thing - then mission accomplished."
Ms Gillard said on the downside, there was "endless carry-on about hair and make-up and dress and stumbles in high heels".
Mr Hawke said Ms Gillard had overcome such "bloody ridiculous" attention.
"Julia's determination has come through and she's now respected absolutely in her right as a person and that's the way as it should be," he said.