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Transcript of doorstop interview, 11 September 1998 [National Party in Queensland; preferences; tax; One Nation; Tim Fischer]



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PRIME MINISTER

 

11 September 1998

 

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER

THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW

 

E&OE

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Prime Minister, One Nation has approached the National Party in Queensland to do a deal on preferences, should they have accepted that given Tim Fischer’s in trouble in Farrer?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

No.  It would have involved a compromising of the Coalition arrangement.  Of course not.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Mr Prime Minister, your Senator, Ross Lightwood says One Nation should perhaps go above Labor on a ticket.  Is this a problem for you?  Does that same situation where One Nation approached the Queensland Nats here, does that suggest that Pauline Hanson’s in trouble in Blair?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Well you should go and ask One Nation that.  I don’t know because I don’t have any communication with the One Nation Party any more than I have any communication with the Labor Party.  They are both opponents of ours with very similar policies.  In fact, the similarities between the economic policies of Labor and One Nation are quite startling in this campaign.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Do you welcome the fact that the Nationals have decided to put One Nation behind Labor in Blair, perhaps as a symbolic gesture?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Look, I’m waiting until I get all the details of the preference arrangements.  It’s a, sort of, a fast-moving scene.  The nominations closed at 12:00 noon Eastern Standard Time and I’ll wait to be briefed.  But obviously my position is well known.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Pauline Hanson [inaudible] is trying to put race back into this election campaign today.  Does that suggest that…do you think that’s connected with her, perhaps, political [inaudible]?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Well, I made my view very clear in Cairns, I think it was, very early in the campaign about any intrusion of racial matters into the campaign.  They have no place in Australian political campaigns.  I am very pleased that Wik was resolved before the election campaign, so that’s not there and I know all fair-minded Australians, whatever their politics are, will want issues of race and matters associated with that kept completely free of the campaign.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Do you think, as a matter of principle, that policies should be, in some cases, targeted towards Aboriginal people in reco gnition of their disadvantage as opposed to treating them equally and disregarding the issue of Aboriginality?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Well, I…Sandra, that’s not something you can give a flick yes/no answer to.  I believe that the best way to help the indigenous people of Australia is to recognise those areas where they do have a disadvantage and that is in education, health and housing.  But that has to be within the context of recognising that all Australians are equal and that we are Australians first and foremost.  But obviously as a community they do suffer profound disadvantage and that is why certain programmes to remedy that disadvantage remain appropriate.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Prime Minister, you seem to be doing very well in latest polls, are you buoyed by that at this stage in the campaign?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

I am not going to comment on polls.  We have three weeks to go.  I said at the beginning I would be a participant, yes, an advocate, yes, an aspirant to the office again of Prime Minister, yes, but certainly not a commentator.  We have plenty of them, they follow me around every day and I watch their words of wisdom on the television, I watch their words and they are not always wise, sometimes they are.  And I read them but I am not going to comment because there is a long way to go.  We have got three weeks.  This is going to be a tight election and I don’t take anything for granted.  I don’t underestimate my opponent and he has had a lot of experience and it’s very foolish to get carried away with that famous Greek affliction of hubris.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

There’s going to be a GST on local phone calls and stamps which is then absorbed by the organisations, doesn’t that mean that other services will have to suffer as a result?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

No.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Why not?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Because it’s the capacity of those organisations is sufficient to ensure that that doesn’t occur.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Given [inaudible] Ken Crooke’s stand on this deal that One Nation was offering him, why don’t the Queensland Nationals now say that One Nation should go last in all seats in Queensland?  And that’s your position…

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Fleur, I’m the Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia….

 

JOURNALIST:

 

….it’s your position as well as a Government and your position in your seat, Tim Fischer’s position in his seat.  Shouldn’t Ken Crooke say to them that they should put One Nation last….

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Well, let the Leader of the National Party and the President of the National Party speak for the National Party.  I speak for the L iberal Party.  I have made it clear all along that the National Party is a separate party and it deals with these matters according to its own traditions and in its own way.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Well should Tim Fischer be doing this then?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Look, Tim Fischer has won, in my view, a star of valour as far as political courage is concerned in the time that he has been Deputy Prime Minister.  Anybody who is prepared to argue the case of uniform national gun laws within his own constituency and within his own party deserves great recognition as a very courageous political leader.  And I think anybody who suggests that Tim Fischer lacks courage has completely forgotten the political history of the last two and a half years.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

What do you say to those critics that have said that there should be more than one election debate during the election campaign?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Well, have a look at the record.  There’s no compelling precedent on this.  1987 - there wasn’t even one.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

[Inaudible] Mr Beazley’s tourism plans announced today?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

He announced some tourism plans today did he?

 

JOURNALIST:

 

In particular increasing the tax, the visa tax and departure taxes.

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Oh he is increasing the departure tax.  What about….has he taken the tax off people who are coming here?

 

JOURNALIST:

 

[Inaudible]

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Mmmm, I see.  Well, look, I’d like to analyse it a bit further before I comment.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Mr Howard, what’s the compelling argument for having one debate?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Well, one debate is in my view quite adequate.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Should people be concerned that interstate phone calls, the prices will go up?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Well, you have got to understand that the introduction of the new tax plan will result in very significant reductions for an organisation like Telstra.  I mean, think of the enormous benefits that Telstra will get from the lower fuel prices.  All those people who get in their vans and go everywhere and they’ll get the benefit of seven cents a litre off petrol if that’s what they use.  If there’s any diesel used they’ll get even greater reductions as a result of that.  So, I think you are going to find that the amount that needs to be absorbed is eminently controllable.  But I am not disguising the fact, as I explained this morning, how the tax will operate. 

 

JOURNALIST:

 

[Inaudible]

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Where are the economic policy similarities between One Nation and the Australian Labor Party?  Well, firstly, both of them are against taxation reform - serious tax reform.  Both of them, essentially, are opting for the present system.  The second is, both of them are in favour of going backwards as far as protection policies are concerned.  Their view is that you solve our problems by prohibiting….or having a more restrictive approach to imports.  I think those two similarities are very stark indeed.  Thank you.

 

[ends]

 

 

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