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Transcript of doorstop interview: Parliament House, Canberra: 17 August 2006: Interest rates; fuel prices; history; stem cell research.\n



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Wayne Swan MP Federal Labor Shadow Treasurer

TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP INTERVIEW, PARLIAMENT HOUSE CANBERRA 17 AUGUST 2006

E & OE - PROOF ONLY

SUBJECT: Interest rates, fuel prices, history, stem cell research

SWAN: Well John Howard is out there fighting the history wars again.

This guy is the doyen of distraction, the master of mass confusion. He’ll talk about anything other than petrol prices, rising interest rates and all of the pressures that are on the family budget.

The thing about John Howard is that he’ll talk about anyone’s history but his own.

His promise for example to keep interest rates at record lows, or indeed if he wants to talk about history and numbers, and he talks about that a lot, interest rates in 1982 at 21.4 percent.

If he wants to talk about history let’s talk about John Howard’s history and it’s not pretty. That’s why he’s out there being the master of mass confusion.

JOURNALIST: What are your feelings on the teaching of history? Is it too focussed on themes and issues?

SWAN: Well this is not something John Howard can do anything about - that’s why he wants to talk about it.

He actually doesn’t want to talk about his own record. He’d rather have people debating the colour of the chalk in the classroom than talking about his commitment to keep interest rates at record lows.

He’d rather have people debating the culture wars than talking about the skills crisis which is putting upward pressure on interest rates.

This guy has got a history and it’s a history of avoiding those issues which are putting financial pressure on Australian families. He doesn’t want to talk about any of those things at all.

JOURNALIST: Will Labor Party members be using their full postal and communication entitlements that were increased the other day even though you have plans to knock it over in the Senate?

SWAN: We will do our best to knock this over in the Senate. That’s what Kelvin Thompson has announced. We’ll go out there and do our best.

JOURNALIST: Should the public be scandalized by the increase?

SWAN: Well I think they should be outraged because once again this is John Howard looking after himself, not looking after the Australian people.

John Howard always puts himself first. He always serves the top table first.

The people around the kitchen table don’t want to be talking about the history wars. They’re fighting to pay their bills and to meet the financial pressures which come from rising petrol prices, rising interest rates and his extreme industrial relations legislation.

JOURNALIST: Which way are you going to vote on the stem cell bill?

SWAN: I’ll look at the bill. I haven’t seen all of the detail yet so I haven’t made up my mind finally.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]

SWAN: Oh look, I wouldn’t want to reflect or comment on Kay Patterson’s motives. I’ve got the highest regard for Kay Patterson.

I think it would be handy if there were one bill, but I’ll go away and have a look at her bill and I’ll have a look at Natasha Stott-Despoja’s bill and I’ll have a look at all the other bills.

But as important as this is, the things we ought to be talking about here are those things that are putting Australian families under tremendous financial pressure. And John Howard wants to talk about anything other than the financial pressure on Australian families. So that’s why he’s out there igniting the history wars again, the blackboard wars if you like.

He doesn’t really want to talk about his own record, his own history — recent and way back to 1982 when he was probably the worst Treasurer that this country ever saw.

JOURNALIST: What’s your thinking on stem cells? What besides the bill is your thinking on the law so far as it stands?

SWAN: Well I voted for the last bill because I have a commitment to quality scientific research, which can save lives. And indeed I have been the beneficiary of that in my own life.

So I take these issues very seriously. I also know that there are moral issues involved. So I will study the material and make up my mind when I have seen it.

Thanks.

ENDS Thur 17 August 06 Contact Lachlan Harris: 0417 592 338