JULIA Gillard, with Justine Elliott and local girl Georgia Meredith, at Tweed City shopping centre yesterday. Photo: CRAIG SAD
JULIA Gillard, with Justine Elliott and local girl Georgia Meredith, at Tweed City shopping centre yesterday. Photo: CRAIG SAD

Labor targets kids

By ED SOUTHORN

Health reporter

JULIA Gillard will try to make sure the next generation of Australians does not have a shorter lifespan than the current one.

Ms Gillard, Federal Labor's health spokeswoman, visited Tweed City shopping centre yesterday morning with Richmond MP Justine Elliot to "meet the people" and talk about Labor's "Goals for Aussie Kids" discussion paper.

The paper identifies a need to tackle type 1 diabetes, food allergies, autism, obesity, eating disorders and suicide, all of which are spreading at alarming rates among children.

Labor's kids health policy so far would increase allergy research funding, provide more support for parents with children starting school and add folate to flour to help combat spina bifida.

Ms Gillard also wants public input in refining the kids health policy before the next federal election.

But on the day when opinion polls showed Ms Gillard is Labor's preferred leader, it was inevitable Tweed folk wanted to talk about her political ambitions.

Frank Duffy, 70, said there really was no reason why Ms Gillard should not be given an opportunity to lead the Labor Party.

"Why not? They've tried nearly everybody else - but I do still like Kim," Mr Duffy said.

Ms Gillard insisted she wanted to be health minister in the Beazley Labor government, although she would consider a tilt at the leadership if there was a vacancy in years to come.

She told the Daily News that Labor's kids health discussion paper warned the current generation of children might live shorter lives than the present generation.

She also said that the Howard Government's mental health package did not have enough acute mental health beds and would not stop mental health patients wandering the streets.

On the local front, she said it was essential for Labor to retain Richmond in order to win government.



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