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Transcript of doorstop interview: The Stamford Grand, North Ryde: 3 May 2006: \nBeaconsfield miners; interest rates; Solomon Islands; Budget; Private Jacob Kovco’s funeral.



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PRIME MINISTER

3 May 2006

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP DOORSTOP INTERVIEW THE STAMFORD GRAND, NORTH RYDE

Subjects: Beaconsfield miners; interest rates; Solomon Islands; Budget; Private Jacob Kovco’s funeral.

E&OE…………………………………………………………………………………

PRIME MINISTER:

Just before I take your questions, are we all ready? This is the first time I have been on camera since the news came through of the two miners, Brant Webb and Todd Russell being alive, and I know that I speak for every Australian in hoping and expressing our hopes and prayers that they are safely brought to the surface. It’s a wonderful story of Australian endurance and courage and what is wonderful is the

way in which everybody has pulled together. Everybody is working together, the mine management, the unions, the local community and our thoughts, of course are with the family of the miner who died and the wonderful act of mateship of that family in postponing his funeral so that his mates will be there. I think that’s a wonderful expression of the Australian spirit.

JOURNALIST:

If you could speak down that long pipe to those miners, what personal message would you give them?

PRIME MINISTER:

Everybody is with you mate, and we are all working together and we are all hoping and praying and we are determined we are going to get you up so you can play football on Saturday.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think Mr Beazley should have linked industrial relations with the …

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I am not going to talk about that.

JOURNALIST:

Your opinion on today’s interest rate hike?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well nobody ever likes interest rates going up unless you are a lender. It’s fair to say though that the Reserve Bank obviously saw some signs of inflationary pressure and it decided to take pre-emptive action in relation to that, I think that is the context in which the bank is making the decision.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard, during the last election campaign you asked voters to trust you to keep interest rates low. We’ve now seen two rises during the next term. How should voters be feeling?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I think voters, what voters were asked to believe at the last election and what is the case, and it still remains absolutely the case, that a Coalition Government would always have interest rates much lower than a Labor Government. We had interest rates at 17 per cent under Labor, so let’s put this into perspective.

JOURNALIST:

How do you think this is affecting households, taking into account petrol prices at the moment?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well petrol prices are obviously painful for everybody and I understand that and I don’t know if there is anything I have to add to what I have said about interest rates.

JOURNALIST:

Are you worried about inflation and consumption…

PRIME MINISTER:

I beg your pardon, sorry?

JOURNALIST:

Business groups are today saying that this increases the case for further tax reform in the May Budget paper…

PRIME MINSITER:

I am not going to speculate about the Budget this close to the event.

JOURNALIST:

How worried are you that inflation and consumption are actually taking off again?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don’t think it is taking off, no I don’t and neither does the Reserve Bank, and neither does the IMF. I think what the Reserve Bank is saying is that there are some inflationary pressures and pre-emptive action now will mean less action later on.

JOURNALIST:

Do you know how hard this will be on families, Mr Howard?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am fully aware of those people who might have to pay more, of what those amounts will be.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard have you received a letter off the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands asking for our High Commissioner to be recalled to Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I have full confidence in our High Commissioner, full confidence. I have received the letter from the caretaker Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands and I will be replying to that letter, but I have full confidence in the High Commissioner.

JOURNALIST:

So he won’t be recalled then?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have full confidence in him.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister did you think Private Jake Kovco’s funeral held yesterday was over the top, perhaps compensating for the body bungle earlier?

PRIME MINISTER:

I thought it was appropriate and tasteful and most importantly of all, I hope it was of comfort to his family.

[ends]