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Transcript of interview with Ray Fewings: Radio 5AN: 10 March 1993

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FEWINGS: As I told you before the PM is campaigning in the north of the State today. He's in the Iron Triangle I believe

and he joins us now by car phone on the Fewings File. Good morning PM.

PM: Hallo, how are you, Ray.

FEWINGS: That's a wonderful reception, whereabouts are you at the moment.

PM: I'm in the township of Whyalla.

FEIINGS: In Whyalla. What sort of reaction are you getting because this is one of the key electorates, marginal seats, for Saturday.

PM: Well, very good actually. I mean we had a very large attendance at the TAPE college, I'd say 4 or 500 people turned out and I went through the issues, I said we're getting to the point where all the razzmatazz finishes and people have got to make a decision. And, you know, they're down to the options and the options are whether to take a very radical right wing alternative with a new goods and services tax, you know, the

scrapping of Medicare and confrontation on industrial relations and those themes seem to go down very well.

FEWINGSs What sort of questions did they ask you. What is

worrying them about your policies.

PM: Well, it was basically a speech to an audience there wasn't questions being taken although, you know, I have questions from the media every day. Unlike Dr Hew$on I still do press conferences.

FEWINGS: We've been discussing it on the program this morning, do you think the election campaign has been maybe a week too long.

PM: Oh I don't think so.

FEWINGS: You're behind in the polls, it's too short I


PM: No, no. One poll has us ahead, one has us level

pegging and one has us behind.


FEWINGS: Yes, I must admit they've been very difficult to

follow although we did have a poll on this program yesterday and the audience listening to us, you trail by 500 votes. So it was a rather marked result in favor of Dr Hewson.

PM: Well, it depends On what the makeup of the audience is I think, you know, but the key point is Dr Hewson has

failed to make the link between a GST and employment and jobs. Nobody can quite understand how a GST is going to create more jobs . Now a big tax on spending is going to create jobs rather ... what it will do in fact is create more unemployment. I mean, that's his problem. He's got a huge tax, over .. a tax equal over half the income tax, which Australia doesn't need. That wherever it's been tried before it's failed in every other

country. And where it doesn't even start for 18 months to 2 years, so for 18 months or 2 years he can do nothing about

employment, according to him on his plan. And where basically the CST is just going to be a very heavy impost on Australian life.

FEWINGS: But PM, the indications are whoever wine the

election is in for a much better time. The indicators are there, every day we're getting new figures that suggest that the good times are not that far away.

PM: Yes, but who's put them there, Ray, that's the

point, we have. I mean, the stronger trade figures, the better investment figures of the last two weeks, yesterday's better

retail figures and job vacancy figures are there under this Govt's policies. So why would people want to throw that up and take a OST right when it's coming good.

FEWINGS: I'm surprised PM you haven't made more of the industrial relations issue because in fact this morning it's been suggested that you will, with the help of the Democrats, block any industrial relations bills that you feel are not warranted. But you're not prepared to do that on GST.

PM: Well, the fact is we expect to win the election.

I mean, people are asking about these things, but in a hypothetical sense I give them an answer, but we expect to win and we'll continue the policies of cooperation which we've had under the Accord. we signed the last Accord 3 weeks ago, Accord Mark 7, which promises again more industrial peace, low

inflation, and decency and co-operation. I mean we don't need this dog eat dog employee pitted against employer, this sort of notion that Dr Hewson has that he wants to give the employer the whip hand, abolish all the protections of .. legal protections of awards for minimum rates of pay, holiday pay, sick leave etc, and

for what, to sort of give us basically you know, sweat shop labor conditions when the country is already very, very competitive.


FEWINGS: Do you give an undertaking that you'll stay in

politics after the election, win, lose or draw.

PMt Well, I haven't and the thing is I expect not to

be giving any undertakings because I expect the Govt to be sworn in again and that we will continue the great transition of the

Australian economy, which has been ... gives Australia on

external orientation to make it competitive, to get inflation

down, and to keep that sense of co-operation going and keep the social wage; Medicare, support for education, for health,for the aged, these things shouldn't be put asunder and don't need to be put asunder. I mean we've come through the recession, we're now

coming in to a very marked recovery and we've come through without destroying Medicare, without cutting pensions, without reducing opportunities in education. Why should we do it now.

FEWINGS: PM, are you happy with the way the campaign is

going. It seems as though your opponent has mimicked the

president Clinton campaign at every step; wearing baseball hats, playing sport, doing the various things that President Clinton did.

PM: Except mimic his policies. Did you catch up with the US Under Secretary of State for Commerce in the United States today, one of the primary advisers to President Clinton. He said Australia had done a very good job, I'm reading from his

transcript, a very good job caring about its people and putting people first, especially in its health care system and that's

something we're struggling with right now, he says, just trying to reform the American health care system. And he went on to say

I'm absolutely certain that putting people first has been modelled much more on social democratic govts and programs around the world and not on Thatcherite type programs. In other words, here's one of President Clinton's senior advisers saying that Dr

Hewson's policy (word unclear) sort of basically, you know, Thatcherite type policies which are about diminishing Medicare and national health insurance etc, are not the way that Clinton administration are directing their policies; a 160 million Americans have just voted for policies similar to the policies of

the Australian Labor Party.

FEWINGS: We had the Vice President of the AMA on the

program this morning, PM, who wanted to make mileage out of the fact that you don't have private health insurance. How would you

respond, because you never did answer that question on Sunday night.

PM; No, because I believe in the public system. The

public system works. I mean, wouldn't I be a funny sort of a

character as Leader of a Govt that's out there saying that our public system is good and fair and it works, but then say, oh, I don't really belief that I go and privately insure. I mean, I'd

have no credibilit y at all. And the other thing is this, Ray. I mean, the health funds have behaved disgracef ully in trying to

frighten people into private health insurance and the AMA is the greediest union in the country. They're about basicall y a 60%

I don't

increase in medical salaries. Did you see tha about where know whether you saw the story in SMH today, one they are talking, doctors are talking about getting more income. FEWINGS2 Not we haven't -

PM= They put a letter around yesterday where it said practices will ... this is what they said: from the Medical Observer magazine - 'practices will need to justify their charge, that is the GST, by to put it crudely finding ways Ito get more money from patients, whether they are insured or not'. And they

say one very simple way to do this would be to impose a small increase across the board, every patient were to be charged and extra $ 1 perpatients would be about $13,000 gained

a year.

practice I mean,

130 p

that's the AMA for you.

FEWINGS: PM, one final question before you move on. The State Bank report, the second of the Royal Commissione rs


came down yesterday and the suggestion is that South Australians. are still very angry about the State Bank and they hat t would you anyone connected with Labor for what happened. say to Sth Aui^ r^tat n with othe State Bank deba c be.d l y over what

happened in thi Well, I'd say they're entitled to be .. to have anxiety about it, they're entitled to be very sour on Marc" Clark and the board of the Bank, but I remind them that it's the

Fed Labor Govt is the only Govt, the only Party which has offered a relief program to SA to meet the financial burden of the State Bank. And da you know, I negotiated with Premier Arnold a package of $600M of benefits from the Commonwealth Budget and


burden rden sale at the the

debt of tha thew 5th Australian bank relieved the of e from the communit

y of SA.

FEWINGS: But the Sth Australian people PM, are entitled to ask could you and should you, your Govt, have done something about the State Bank situation before it happened.

PM =

Well, the State Bank is exactly that, a State Bank. I mean, I had a State Bank too, when I was Treasurer, it was called the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and it finished the '80e in tip top shape. The State Bank was not my

responsibility, it was the responsibili ty of the Board and the

Govt but it is a Labor Fed Govt which is the only Govt offering real relief and becausenif we o the do

peopl t


rea lve the Bproblem iit

th is is p


oblem for them




is incapable of being resolved in SA and John Hewson has at this stage said he will not do anything, and when asked about Dean

Brown's commitment, John Hewson made it quite clear, he said he didn't know what the figure was that Mr Brown had used; in other

words there's no commitment from the Fed Liberal Party for Fed

Commonwealth assistance to the State of SA to ease the debt burden and the carrying costs of the State Bank,

F'EWINGS: I'm sorry to prolong you, but the debate on Sunday night, you've been acknowledged as the winner. Would this be the first time to your knowledge that the winner hasn't really had

any benefit from it; that for some reason the loser appears to

be getting the sympathy vote over the debate.

PM1 Well, I don't know, how do you work that out.

FEWINGS: I expected a surge in the polls on your behalf after having won the debate but it doesn't -PM: We haven't had a poll taken since the debate.

There's not been one taken. The ones that came out yesterday were all taken before the debate.

FEWINGSs Is that so.

PM: Yes, that's last weeks. And even there in the

McNair Anderson poll, Labor was 51 and the Coalition 49; on the Newspoll, we tied 50/50; and on the Morgan poll, the only one where we came behind. So we're in front on one, a draw on two, and behind in one, and all were taken before the debate.

FEWINGSt What's your prediction for Saturday.

PMs I think the Govt will be returned to office. I think Australians won't take a monstrous goods and services tax. They don't need it. I think they understand how pernicious it will be. I think they know it will be on every good and service in the country and I don't think they want to see their social

security system or their health system torn to pieces.

FEWINGS: Well, thank you for taking time out to speak with us today.

PMs Thank you, Ray.