Familiar handbook as Gillard plays to the crowd
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, with ministers Tony Burke, Jason Clare, Mark Dreyfus and Daryl Melham at the announcement of national anti-gang laws. Photo: Andrew Meares
Law and order and foreigners taking local jobs are among the more reliable standbys in the political campaign playbook, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard has started her day by ramping up those very themes.
Visiting the south-west Sydney suburb of Punchbowl on Wednesday, some years ago notorious for violent drug gangs, pack rapes and the killing of a 14-year-old boy, Ms Gillard spoke with community leaders about her plan to create new powers to tackle gangs and organised crime across state borders.
Later, she brushed aside questions about whether her stance on working visas amounted to Hansonism or xenophobia and reiterated that she was against Australians having to stand in line behind foreigners for jobs.
After private discussions with 20 south-west Sydney community leaders, Ms Gillard said she believed it was crucial that new laws be enacted that enhanced co-operation between state and federal enforcement authorities to tackle outlaw gangs and organised crime groups.
She would personally take her plans for national anti-gang laws and for a national approach to seizing unexplained wealth to state Premiers next month.
A similar effort to persuade state Attorneys-General to extend state laws to a national platform failed last year.
Ms Gillard said she believed it was time now to take it to a higher level - leader-to-leaders - though she avoided questions about whether she had let all state premiers know of the plan.
Her latest stance follows her announcement in Sydney on Sunday of a new anti-gang task force.
Environment Minister Tony Burke, whose electorate of Watson includes the suburb Ms Gillard visited, said the area had been plagued by serious crime such as drive-by shootings and the notorious pack rapes at nearby Greenacre about a decade ago.
Since then the community and police had done much to make to make the area safe again, but crime had begun to re-insert itself in the district.
There had been a shooting overnight in a nearby suburban street, Ms Gillard said.