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Transcript of doorstop interview: Family Fun Day, Cleveland, Queensland: 1 July 2006: Tax Cuts; industrial relations; union rallies; David Hicks; redistribution of the seat of Bennelong.
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON KIM C BEAZLEY MP
TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP INTERFVIEW, FAMILY FUN DAY, CLEVELAND, QUEENSLAND, 1 JULY 2006
E & O E - PROOF ONLY
Subjects: Tax Cuts; Industrial Relations; Union rallies; David Hicks; Redistribution of the seat of Bennelong
BEAZLEY: I’m here in Cleveland today campaigning against John Howard’s anti-family industrial relations laws. Those extreme laws really attack the very heart of the Australian family. Their aspirations to earn a decent living in order to be able to pay their mortgages and keep the family together.
Their aspirations to get access to decent holidays so they can gather together with their families like these families behind me are doing today. And when we take a look at the tax changes, which has just come in, they don’t help those aspirational families all that much.
And for Middle Australian they find the that rising price of petrol, the rising interest rates have taken away their tax cut before it’s arrived on their desk. So, there’s a lot to talk about when it comes to dealing with the issues confronting
Australian families today. Over to you.
JOURNALIST: Obviously the form is that there’s people who will benefit from these tax cuts. Who will be most disadvantaged as of today?
BEAZLEY: The aspriational Australian families. And for most family tax payers, don’t get me wrong, we advocated tax cuts. We advocated tax cuts for Australian families. But all of them will find in Middle Australia that the tax cuts are being absorbed by the rising price of petrol and the rising cost of borrowing money.
JOURNALIST: But as of today, particularly working people?
BEAZLEY: People who are working families, ordinary Australians benefit very little, it at all, from these tax cuts. There needs to be more tax reforms, it helps Middle Australia. But there also needs to be a change in the industrial relations laws. These laws Howard’s just brought in need to be ripped up. The new wage cutting AWAs have to go. They’ve go to be ripped away because that, in the end, is the heaviest threat to family incomes.
You’ll find around Australia most families, particularly at that point of time when the kids are young or teenage, when they’re struggling most with the mortgages, that’s when they need the penalty rates, the overtime rates, the holiday pays and the rest of it - that’s what they need then. And for Howard to be ripping that away means he attacks the heart of the Australian family.
JOURNALIST: And this is backed up today with the NATSEM research that’s been done and released today?
BEAZLEY: Absolutely right. What it shows as far as Costello’s concerned anything he’s done with tax cuts has not actually done much for aspirational Australia. But those aspirational middle income Australian families, well they certainly do need continued access to penalty rates, overtime rates, shift allowances, holiday pay and the like. That will ultimately all go under John Howard’s new wage cutting AWAs.
JOURNALIST: What about accusations that you’re a puppet for the unions?
BEAZLEY: Look, hold the front pages - the Labor Party is associated with the union movement - new information. Look, for 120 years the Labor Party has been associated with the union movement. But what we’re about in this particular campaign of ours is not to favour the unions or favour the bosses, but to have a fair, balanced system. You see its all gone one way. What John Howard has done is tilt the great Australian balance against the ordinary Australian worker. And what we’re going to do is put the balance in. That’s what we’re going to do.
JOURNALIST: Do you think this will win the next election for you?
BEAZLEY: Lots of things will go into the next election campaign and we will need to talk about many of the problems this nation now confronts. And they’re big because John Howard has dropped the ball when it come to giving the Australian people the skills they need, building our infrastructure, basic nation building - we’ll be talking about that. This will be the first election since 1929 at which industrial relations will be at its very heart.
And that, at the end of the day, will do John Howard enormous damage. And that is why he must not cut and run. Howard has got to have the guts to face the Australian people and explain himself, at the next election because at the last election he did not tell them what he was going to do.
JOURNALIST: How would you sum-up this last week of union rallies?
BEAZLEY: I think it’s been a very good leg-up for the campaign. This is not going to be won by a set of ads or one rally, no matter how spectacular. This is going to be won by the hard, solid grind of getting around and talking to
Australian families. Talking to workers in their workplaces - getting them understanding exactly what John Howard has in mind for then. That will take a long time. The good news is: we’ve got a long time.
JOURNALIST: The National Chamber of Commerce has been pushing for five year workplace agreements. If they were successful with those and if you were successful with the next election, that would cover your first year in office. How do you respond to that?
BEAZLEY: Look, I’ve said at the outset if these agreements are in place that those parties want, part of our transition arrangements will be to leave them in place until they conclude. I’m about the long-term. When we form a Government I’m not about surviving in government for six months, I’m about building the Australian nation -nation building. That will take some years and I’m confident that we’ll govern in a way that will those years. So at the end of the day we’re going to be able to establish wage justice, fairness for all Australians.
JOURNALIST: I’d like to change the topic actually, David Hicks.
BEAZLEY: What David Hicks is entitled to is a fair trial in the United States. Two years ago, we in the Labor Party, argued that David Hicks should be placed before a US Civil Court to answer the charges that have been made against him. Finally, yesterday, John Howard, having failed to argue with his friends in the United States that this should occur, finally joined the Labor Party in asking for the same thing.
If he had asked for that then, and if had had the guts like Tony Blair had to say: “listen sport, to the US President, you’ve got a bunch of British citizens there, try them or send them home”. If Howard had the guts to say that to the American President then, if he had the courage of Tony Blair, then we wouldn’t be holding this discussion here today.
Either that trial would have occurred or he would have been sent home as happened with the British who were picked up in those raids. Now, I’m not holding a candle here for David Hicks, don’t get me wrong on this.
He was caught on a battlefield with some very bad people and the Americans believe he’s got charges he ought to answer. Well, he should answer them but he should answer them in a civil court, a fair procedure.
JOURNALIST: The redistribution of John Howard’s seat of Bennelong. Some say that will make it a tough battle for him, what do you say?
BEAZLEY: Look we’ll fight on any set of boundaries, we in the Labor Party and we’ll fight and win the next election. What John Howard has got to do is face the Australian people. If his electorate is placed in a situation where the
Australian people have some opportunity to influence him and he doesn’t stay and fight for it, well he’s got no guts and he’s got no courage. He’s got to have the ticker to stand up and answer for what he’s done. And if he runs away from
this fight it will be a blot on his public record that will sit in his history from this point to time and memorial.