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Noosa Heads, Queensland: transcript of doorstop interview: Qld visit, tax reform, opinion polls; dairy industry assistance; Konrad Kalejs; HIH\nRoyal Commission, Australian cricketers visit to Gallipoli.



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29 May 2001

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP DOORSTOP INTERVIEW, NOOSA HEADS, QUEENSLAND

Subjects: Qld visit; tax reform; opinion polls; dairy industry assistance; Konrad Kalejs; HIH Royal Commission; Australian cricketers visit to Gallipoli.

E&OE……………………………………………………………………………………

JOURNALIST:

How are you enjoying Queensland?

PRIME MINISTER:

Loving it.

JOURNALIST:

Is the visit here recognition that your support has collapsed in this part of the world?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I travel to all parts of Australia. I am a regular visitor to all parts of the country. I know this area well and I’ve been here before and I’m delighted to be back.

JOURNALIST:

In Gympie this morning it was the first time a Prime Minister had visited there in almost 30

years. Are you concerned about the threat of One Nation still this time around.

PRIME MINISTER:

I think it’s an illustration that I’m more in touch with regional Australia than my predecessors. I think that’s what that demonstrates. If you look at the last five years you will find that I have been to the regions of Australia in a way that my two immediate predecessors certainly didn’t. I don’t take any part of Australia for granted. I enjoy getting out and meeting people. I thought the occasion at Gympie this morning was a great opportunity for a Prime Minister to talk to a cross section of the Australian community, not all of whom are doing well. Some of whom are and some aren’t. It was a great opportunity for me to hear first hand what people had to say.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister in your speech inside you said that you believe that Australia still relies too heavily on income tax. What do you do about that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well one of the things I’m going to do about it is hang on tenaciously to the tax reforms that we brought in last year. The biggest single flaw in the Beazley approach to tax is that he wants to increase the burden carried by personal income tax by winding back the GST. You can’t wind back the GST either without finding the money to pay for it and if you wind back the reliance on the GST you are increasing reliance on income tax and that is a slug on future generations of Australians.

JOURNALIST:

Certainly but in terms of the fact that we still rely on it too much even after your tax reforms, what will you do about that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well what I’m doing about that is hanging on to the reforms I’ve made.

JOURNALIST:

When you looked at the Newspoll this morning have you got a sniff of victory around now?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh Nigel, I think it’s still pretty tough for us, I think it’s still very tough for us. It’ll go down to the wire. I think the Government’s budget has been well received, I think the message is starting to get through that Labor hasn’t told anybody how it’s going to pay for rollback but we still have a long way to go. It’s going to be very tough for us.

JOURNALIST:

The polls bounce around a lot. What about that AC Nielson Poll?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that’s, you know, you said it, they do bounce around and I don’t take the, I’ve never taken the next election for granted. It think it’s going to be tough, we’re obviously still behind.

JOURNALIST:

I presume it remains your current intention to run the full term, what…

PRIME MINISTER:

It remains my current intention…

JOURNALIST:

What sort of development would need to occur for that timeframe to…

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I’m not … all I can say Nigel is that it is my current intention to go the full distance.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister do you concede that regional Australia is hurting more as a result of your Government’s policies and perhaps that you haven’t picked that up?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I don’t think they’re hurting as a result of our policies. I think sections of regional Australia have been hurt by the inexorable forces of globalisation. And what I was talking about in Gympie this morning was a need for governments to cushion the impact of globalisation, to help manage the impact of globalisation so that where people became the victims of it they were helped. And dairy deregulation is a great illustration - dairy deregulation was not imposed by the federal government, it was imposed by the actions of dairy farmers in Victoria deciding to exercise their constitutional rights as Australians to sell across state borders. And what the federal government did was to come in and provide an underpinning, a cushion, a management plan to ease the impact and we’ve done that. And I think the evidence is that a great number of people who have been in the dairy industry came up to me this morning and expressed appreciation at the help the Government had given.

JOURNALIST:

So you think you’ve won back support on that issue?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I don’t know and I’m not going to give a day-to-day commentary on whether I’ve won back support or lost it. Governments have a responsibility to deliver good government and we continue to do that, we continue to listen to people and I’m certainly not going to get into this day-to-day business of how we’re going. I mean I’ll leave that to the experts, namely the political commentators in the media.

JOURNALIST:

One other matter, the way has been cleared for Konrad Kalejs to be extradited - do you support that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I support the operation of the normal processes of the law and I would remind people who are interested in this that it was the Government that negotiated an extradition treaty with Latvia and it’s a matter really now for the thing to work its way through. I don’t want to comment on the man’s guilt or innocence, the court does that and it’s just not appropriate for a

prime minister to be calling guilt or innocence on something like that.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, would you ….the HIH Royal Commission - would you envisage that they may sit outside Australia? May convene outside Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

That will be a matter for the Royal Commissioner.

Thank you.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, just a quickly on cricket…

PRIME MINISTER:

On cricket?

JOURNALIST:

There’s been a little bit of criticism of the Australian side stopping off at Gallipoli on the way over to, the one day squad I think, on the way over to England…. [inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I am surprised to hear that I think that’s, I think unreasonable. I happen to know that the team was very keen to go. I spoke to Steve Waugh about it only last Friday at the Farewell Lunch and I understand that it was something that was first suggested in a conversation between Steve Waugh and General Cosgrove some months ago. And I think it’s a wonderful thing for the team to have done. I don’t regard it as a PR stunt. Any young Australian who has been to Gallipoli, indeed any Australian who’s been to Gallipoli, is quite moved by it and it is a growing point of connection between Australians of all generations and the sense of purpose and achievement and identity of this country.

[ends]

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