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Transcript of interview with Richard Palfreyman: World Today, ABC Radio: 9 March 1993

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9 MARCH 1993


RP: As you heard earlier in the program the Prime Minister, Mr Keating, has made it quite clear this morning that if he loses the election the Labor Party will block the Coalitions Industrial Relations policy in the Senate. Mr Howard in response has

said the Prime Minister is not his own man. The Prime Minister has joined me on the line now. Mr Keating, thanks for calling in. John Howard says that you're the prisoner of the unions when it comes to deciding to block his industrial relations legislation if the Coalition wins office.

PM: Let me repeat what I said earlier, Richard. That is, I expect that the Government will win the election, but unlike Dr Hewson 1 answer the questions, and the question put to Me was, would we support Opposition industrial relations policy in the Senate, in the event of them becoming a Government? The answer I gave was

no. And the reason is because Mr Howard is sitting on the legislation. Now he said to you that he was trying to make no distinction between a GST and its absence of legislation and industrial relations. But the principle of a GST is clear, the Liberal Party is saying that they will levy a 15 per cent Goods and Services

Tax on all goods and services in the economy, in their legislation some detail about how that might apply, but the principle is as clear as day.

RP: But there is no GST legislation as yet, is there?

PM: No, but the principle is clear. A GST is a 15 per cent up front retail tax and it will be applied across the economy and it would come in the form of money bills equal to half the income tax. The GST raises $24 billion, it is over half the income tax of Australia and for those bills to come in the Labor Party would always apply the


RP: So you're saying that it is a money bill?


PM: Yes it is a money bill.

RP: But isn't it a taxation bill?

PM: It's a money bill, money and taxation are the same, it is a money bill. The key message, I think, for the community is this, on that point, Richard, if they elect a Coalition Government, if they vote for the GST they will get one. They can't believe they can vote for the GST and somehow escape it with shenanigans in the

Senate. If they vote for a GST they will get one, and they have got to make their mind up this week whether they vote for it or not.

RP: But if they vote for Dr Hewson they will also be getting an industrial relations policy. What's the logic of saying that the GST has won a mandate if Hewson wins but not the IR legislation?

PM: Because the industrial relations policy, the principles are all established in the legislation. I mean here we have in Victoria, and I am in Victoria at the moment, in Victoria this week people were sacked who wouldn't take the contracts. You have got the Sydney Morning Herald with a very large story about sweat shops in

New Zealand, people getting paid $2.70 an hour, working a 60 hour week, under these legislations. You saw the difference between Mr Kennett's promise and Mr Kennetts actuals, in terms of when their legislation actually appeared, how workers rights were basically taken away for minimum rates of pay and penalty rates et

cetera. John Howard has the legislation, it is an act of unconscionable cynicism on his part and Dr Hewsons part to keep the legislation secret in the closing week of a campaign.

RP: But on the other hand Prime Minister, can't you see the perplcxion on the part of voters if they see that you arc condemning this legislation without having seen what is actually in it?

PM: No we are not condemning it, I am just saying this, we won't support their changes. We would feel under no obligation, what's so ever, to support their changes in the Senate. Look, don't let him kid you they are going to control the Senate, the Liberal Party can not get control of the Senate is this election. It is a

half senate election, it is not possible. The Government, that is the Labor Party as an Opposition and the Democrats would have the capacity to block industrial legislation.

RP: So is it part of your tactics to put fear into the electorate that perhaps there is going to be a period of real legislative uncertainty if John Hewson wins the election?

PM: Well there would he upheaval by virtue of the fact of the policies he is proposing. He is trying to tear the nostrums and norms of Australian society, put it asunder.

RP: But you are also then talking about political chaos afterwards?

PM: One thing I am certainly talking about is this, if people decide to have a Coalition Government, as sure as you and I are talking they will have a GST.

RP: So, you are saying that if John Hewson wins this country is taking a great risk in being plunged into political chaos?

PM: I am saying if he wins all of the nostrums of decency, tolerance, cooperation, will be put asunder by the policies which he has been proposing.

RP: Is that chaos, Mr Keating?

PM: Well that's your word, Richard, we will see. But the point is he is not after any cooperation. Can 1 just say by the way, I have never had any conversations with Mr Kelty or Mr Ferguson about the Liberals industrial relations legislation, not one, not one. But John Howard should stop being so cynical, he must think the

public are so silly, that sitting on a piece of law that he has had now drafted and has been to barristers for comment, for months, and won't show the public in the critical days of the last week of an election. Can I also say, just today Dr Hewsons decided to do a rally but not do a press conference, not do a doorstop, as is his

wont. Today we have got good news on the economy, as we have had right throughout the course of the election campaign with retail sales up 4.2 per cent from January, and with job vacancies up by 5.1 per cent.

RP: Well, Prime Minister, we are just about to go and find out what John Hcwson has been doing in Perth this morning, thanks very much for talking to The World Today.