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Transcript of doorstop interview: Taylor's Chemist, Mackay: 3 March 1993

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PM: ... from the GST. This is the point we are making; if these things are all going up in price, how in any way can Dr Hewson's policies bring them down? He says we'll have cheaper petrol, but I mean you (the chemist) drive to work, it is not going to make these things any cheaper and that's the point. The 15 per cent; 15 per cent real and the point is it can't create, not only can it not create one extra job, but it will actually reduce jobs. The other thing he says is he will give payroll tax relief, but I take it you (the chemist) wouldn't be paying payroll tax.


Chemist: No.

PM: So there is no payroll tax relief and yet all these things go on and the public are aware that the cost of that 15 per cent on all of those, over the counter, everyday items for Australian families and people. And that is why Fightback, the GST is so unfair. Yesterday Dr Hewson had his first opportunity in this election campaign, his first opportunity to explain the GST and at the first real opportunity he failed. So if he can't explain the GST as the author of the policy, why should he expect the public to be able to accept that the GST is good for them when the author can't explain how it works?

So this is a very clear case in point, a demonstration of the fact that the GST is going to intrude into everybody's life and particularly in these everyday items you have in a chemist shop and that's why we think it is unfair and it is bad for the country and the more people find out about it the less they will be inclined to vote for it.

J: Mr Keating, what would you prescribe for Dr Hewson at the moment, antacid or just a few Panadol?

PM: I think probably Mylanta.



PM: No, no, Mylanta is an antacid. A pleasant tasting, mint—flavoured antacid. That's for him and for Andrew Robb as well. But seriously the fact is, these things are hit by the GST, they shouldn't be. This is why it is a pernicious tax and all the basic things about how much people would be better off are simply untrue and I think Australians are now coming to understand that.

J: (inaudible) ... unemployment.

PM: Yes, of course, that is only a diversion from the real issue which is the GST. It is not the CES which prepares unemployment figures, it is the Commonwealth Statistician. So the whole claim by Mr Fischer is totally fallacious.

J: Nevertheless, have you checked that the figures haven't been fudged or won't be fudged?

PM: Of course they won't be fudged, it is just a silly claim by them.

J: Have you seen the comments by the Catholic Social Welfare Commission criticising JobsBack?

PM: Yes the Catholic Social Welfare Commission has stood up for the interests of poorer Australians and they did last year to be savagely attacked by Dr Hewson as a stunt, to be attacked by Mr Chaney as biased and of course, today we have got the University of Sydney study saying 60 odd per cent of Australian families will be worse off. You have the Treasury saying 75 per cent of families will be worse off under Dr Hewson's GST. Anyone who has looked at this GST knows that Australian people and Australian families are going to be worse off. When Dr Hewson had his chance to explain it yesterday he couldn't. Because the media have not been able to pin him, down running along beaches and the rest. The one time he sat down and ordinary Australians asked him the questions, he is always talking about ordinary Australians, well this time they asked him the questions and he couldn't answer them. He is the author of the policy and as we know you don't have to be an economist to know all this, all this stuff has got 15 per cent on it and there is going to be no relief. It is just a dead cost to people and it is going to reduce their living standards and reduce employment.

J: The Catholic Social Welfare Commission is talking about JobsBack and the right of workers to be represented by unions, what's your thoughts on that?

PM: Well, that's a tenet I grew up with all my life. It is one of the basic freedoms of this country, but Dr Hewson has a Government office union. What did he call it — the Office of Employee Advocate, some sort of Government type union. Well of course Australians deserve the right to organise themselves as they wish.

J: Mr Keating, you are going to launch the rural and regional policy in a short while, can you make any capital or will you get any advantage do you think out of the goings on between Ian Sinclair and Tim Fischer at the moment?


PM: I think obviously there is no unity in the National Party and the reason is because the stresses and strains are on. I think Mr Sinclair has come to the conclusion that the Coalition can't win with a GST and he is booking his spot now, he is booking his seat.

J: Are you happy with the debate format for Sunday night?

PM: That is being negotiated by the party.

J: Do you think your campaign has really turned the comer now with these new pressures on the Coalition?

PM: Our campaign has been simple in a sense. We say we are the only party that can lift activity and employment. Yesterday we saw tremendous investment figures coming through, the day before we saw very strong export figures, we are seeing continuing low inflation, we are seeing the economy grow, the statistician a couple of days earlier say the economy is growing at 2.5 per cent; that's the only way jobs are going to be created. We are the only party with a jobs policy. A GST will cost jobs. The principle message in all of this is I

think what this demonstrates is a GST is bad for business and poison for small business, that 's the principle message — the GST will actually reduce employment.

J: Are you aware that Compass has asked to have their shares stop being traded?

PM: No, I didn't know about that.

J: Do you think that this talk about fudging figures for unemployment is a sign that the Coalition's fears that perhaps the figures might improve?

PM: We saw strong employment growth in January and that is an indication that the economy is on the turn, it is actually strengthening now. Look, don't take what I say, take it on the data; the statistician says the economy is growing at 2.5 per cent, it is one of the fastest in the world. He told us this last week — exports are growing like topsy, they are growing gangbusters. We saw strong investment numbers yesterday and Australians should understand this, the point a made yesterday: don't throw it away, we are on the turn, we are on the way back to significant levels of growth and I expect with it employment growth. This is now not the time to take a leap in the dark to a tax the author can't explain and a tax which is going to tax everyday things in life like these, even the things that people rely upon to give them that comfort like ventolin.

J: Prime Minister, what are you expecting of those figures on Thursday next week?

PM: Let's wait until Thursday.

J: Mr Keating, is there any dangers Mr Fischer might have put doubt into people's minds about the actual ... figures?



PM: The simple point is he said that the CES was fudging the figures. It is an outrageous claim, but it is demonstrably untrue because the CES doesn't put the figures together. They are put together by the Australian Statistician, a totally different organisation.