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Orange, 23 July 2000: transcript of doorstop interview; unemployment benefits; home borrowers; Fiji.



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23 July 2000

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP DOORSTOP INTERVIEW ORANGE

Subjects: unemployment benefits, home borrowers, Fiji

E&OE………………………………………………………………………………………

PRIME MINISTER:

The Government is announcing today, and details will be released by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Assistant Defence Minister and the Minister for Employment Services, Mr Abbott, that as from August a service in the Australian Reserve, the Australian Defence Reserve, will be one of the elements that will fulfill the obligation under the mutual obligation scheme for people who are in receipt of unemployment benefits.  It won’t involve any lowering of standards of entry to the Reserve.  It doesn’t in any way involve any element of compulsion.  It is simply a decision made by the Government to add to the list of things that people may do to discharge their obligations under the mutual obligation scheme in relation to their receipt of unemployment benefits.

Of course, any Reserve pay will not be counted against somebody’s entitlement for the New Start Allowance, the unemployment benefits.  It is another illustration of the determination of the government to sensibly expand the mutual obligation principle.  It’s been widely supported in the Australian community and this adds another element to it. 

The details of the arrangements are being announced in Canberra today by Mr Scott and Mr Abbott. 

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister how do you think the unemployment, the people in unemployment, could benefit by being in the Reserves?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well in many ways.  They’re not obliged to go into the Reserves to discharge their mutual obligation responsibility, but it gives them another opportunity and they’ll of course be subject to all of the requirements that other people, and obviously people can benefit from training, they can benefit from the comradeship that’s involved.  The sense of discipline.  The sense of involvement in an activity which has a national benefit.  All of those things are of enormous benefit to people who are on unemployment benefits.

JOURNALIST:

How will it help them actually get a job though?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well they get a lot of skills.  The get motivation and anything that involves turning up at particular places on time and being involved in routine, involved in discipline, involved in working with other people, all of those things make you more job ready.  In fact I would have

thought service in the Reserve would make you particularly job ready.

Thank you.

JOURNALIST:

Can we just talk a little bit about today and just your feelings of being up on the stage and you mentioned that you very much put the three VC winners that were there above your own office in a sense.  How did you feel when you were up there with them and how do you feel about these people?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I think they are as I said, I can really express it any better than I did in my speech.  I can’t add to that.  I said what I thought and I think they are very special people.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard just on another note.  What would your view be if the new Fiji Government was to instate George Speight into a position in the cabinet?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well there’s no suggestion at this stage but if that does occur that would just be a further illustration of the retreat by the people of Fiji away from democracy and away from acceptability in the world community.

JOURNALIST:

Will you accept a Fijian Government with George Speight supporters?

PRIME MINISTER:

We’ve already made our position clear on the Fijian Government.  We support the democratically elected Prime Minister Mr Chaudhry.  We condemn the abrogation of democracy.  We condemn the racially based approach.  We have imposed sanctions and there will be further consequences if democracy is not restored.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard any words for home loan people who are having mortgages with the three banks raising their rates saying that they have to offset the GST?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well my message to home borrowers is that you’re more than $200 a week better off.  $200 a month better-off.  No, no, no in addition to the tax cuts.  Interest rates for housing mortgages are more than $200 a month lower than what they were when this government came to office.  Even allowing for the increases that have occurred recently.  Home buyers in this country are still a country mile ahead of what they were four years ago and then on top of that you have tax cuts.

Thank you.

[Ends]

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