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Transcript of doorstop interview: 26 January 1992: Tax position; Australia Day; Newspoll

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Leader of the Opposition

26 Janua ry 1993 REF: TRANSCR\NM\S0167



SUBJECTS: Tax position, Australia Day, Newspoll

Jmlst: ,,

Dr Hewson, are you happy for your personal tax affairs to become pa rt of the election campaign?


/ Well, there are a number of comments that I'd make, I guess. I, quite frankly, have always paid my tax, and I'm delighted to accept the Prime Minister's challenge to have a full Parliamenta ry debate on my financial a ffairs and his financial affairs and my financial position and his financial position. But quite frankly, I think there are just many more important issues. Mine are...


But is what you did morally right?

Yes, I think what I've done is correct, and there's no point debating the detail. It's been a ma tter of public record for quite some time. I think most of you guys have crawled all over it at one time or another. And I just see it as an a ttempt to distract attention in an election campaign.

If he wants to debate in Parliament, great, I'll look forward to that. But quite frankly, I'm going to continue on the main game, which is unemployment. 10 Jmlst:

Are you still paying 15% tax, and if so, when did you stop paying it? COMMON WEALTH


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I would have no idea. I mean, I haven't even seen the articles that have been referred to or the book that's been referred to. I have no concept of what they've said. But 1 know what I've done.


Dr Hewson, are you surprised how Mr Keating's picked up on this?


No, he's desperate.


So are you basically saying that it's OK to pay 15% tax?

Look, I'm not going to stand here and make judgements one way or the other. Mr Keating's raised it. If he wants to debate it in the Parliament, that's fine, and as sage, I think it should be a full-blown debate of both our financial positions and what we've done over the years, that's fine. If he wants to make that an issue, he can make it an issue, but quite frankly, I think the people of Australia think there are many many more important issues, and unemployment would rate as the most important of those.


But Fightback! talks about a GST as being partly a solution to people being able to minimise their tax. I'm just wondering what your actual personal position is on whether it's reasonable for all people to minimise their tax within the law to the greatest possible sense.

Look, I'm not going to debate the moral principles one way or another. I said I'll stand by what I've done. I'm happy to debate that in the Parliament. That's all l can say at this point. Are there any other questions about Australia Day or anything like that?


Is it worth calling everybody back for a debate like that?



Mr Keating has never worried about wasting public money. Never, in his entire



Dr Hewson, I'd just like to ask you about Australia Day. You were saying today that Australians shouldn't be ashamed or embarrassed about their heritage. What exactly did you mean then?

Well, I think I've heard some political leaders in Australia actually speak in terms of being embarrassed about our heritage or disowning our heritage. I'm actually proud of the Australian heritage. There are some pa rts',,you like more than , other pa rts, but it's about time that we recognised it's a main asset of Australia. And as said, a lot of the focus today ought to really be on the future and where we're going as a nation. And I think this election campaign ought to focus on alternative views of where Australia can go or should go, and what plans they've got - the Government and ourselves - to make that happen.


How will your Citizenship panel a ffect your immigration policy? Will there be any connection between those two things?

Well, you obviously look at immigration when you look at the issue of citizenship. But I'll be making a more detailed statement sho rtly about that, including the prominent Australian that's going to lead it, and at that time I'm happy to take a lot of questions on the detail of that proposal.


Will it lead to a new Oath of Allegiance?

Look, I think the Oath was raised too, as a distraction, by the Prime Minister. I see that more as a Constitutional issue. And it's funny that eve ry time he gets a bad unemployment number or a bad debt number or a bad balance of payments

ndmber, we suddenly start talking about republic or the Flag or the Oath, or tax -somebody's personal tax records - or whatever.

r^ r r•.



It's about time he was dragged screaming back to the main game, which is unemployment, and the future of Australia.


Have you been encouraged by today's polls?

Well, polls come and go. I mean, you're always comforted when they're your way, but it doesn't really make any difference. There's only one poll that's going to matter. I don't think the polls that have been taken over the last few weeks really mean very much. I tend to, one of the rare things I agree with the Prime Minister about is that taking polls in the silly season is a waste of time. And they've been all over the place, and there are more polls now than they have, we have almost as

many polls as we have journalists, and you've all got your own poll. As far as I'm concerned my poll is the one that's coming up which is the federal election. That's the one we're going to win. That's the only one that matters.



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