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Transcript of Dr John Hewson MP doorstop interview Melbourne



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3 6 8 .

Leader of the Opposition

10 August 1991

TRANSCRIPT OF DR JOHN HENSON, HP DOORSTOP INTERVIEW, MELBOURNE

E 6 Ο B - PROOF COPT ONLY

Subjects ; Goods and Services Tax, Victorian Liberal

Party, Liberal Party, National Party.

Jrnlst:

... (inaudible) ,..

Hewsoni

... (inaudible) ... when we announce the detail we will launch that campaign and pursue it from then to the next election.

What will be involved? What sort of medium will you use, what sort of technique?

Well we are still refining the detail of that but we have undertaken to get a message to every household in Australia and there are a number of ways you can do that - we will

obviously use television, we will use radio, letter box drops and a whole range of other ideas we have, public meetings for example all around Australia. we are launching a very large scale campaign that will be essential to successfully sell the· changes that we have in mind for tax reform and in that sense we have spent a lot of time planning the detail of that

launch. ,

Are you concerned that there isn't total commitment from the Victorian Parliamentary Party?

There is, as far as I know, total commitment. I have had my own discussions with Jeff Kennett and others and Jeff certainly has been very supportive. As far as I can see, I have heard of nobody that is opposed to it.

Jrnlstt

Hewson;

Jrnlst:

Hewson:

Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 Phone 77 4022

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Jrnlsti

Given that you have argued the case for getting out there and contesting this thing and debating it openly, why could you have not hung around there for another half an hour whilst this thing is debated by the State Liberal Party?

Hewsont

Well each of the Liberal Party's has generally handled their own debates, I am more than happy to debate it anywhere at any time, but Peter Reith has got the principal responsibility for it, it is his area and it is his State and it is appropriate that he does it. i have no problem with leaving the job to

Peter, I have 100% confidence in him. '

Jrnlsti

How are you going to convince Coalition partners around the nation?

Hewsoni

Well we haven't had any trouble with the Coalition partners

Jrnlsti

They haven't quite embraced it though have they?

Hewsoni

Yes they have, there has been a major, for example, in

Queensland, a Very large scale debate which brought a very, very strong, overwhelming support for the decision to have a broad based goods and services tax'as part of tax reform. Tim Fischer has been going around to each of these conventions, pretty much like I have with the Liberal Party, putting the case and talking to people, they have had their own debates,

their own discussions and the National Party is rock solid on this. You are missing the point, the rural sectors of

Australia do particularly well out of tax reform of the type we have got and that is why there is no problem in selling it to the National Party or to rural Australia.

Jrnlsti *

Do you have a firm commitment from Mr Kennett to support the goods and services tax?

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Mr Kennett is probably going to address it in the course of his remarks here over the weekend and you will see what he has to say# I don't want to tell him what to do he has got his

own way of delivering the message, but I have had some

discussions with him, my colleagues have had discussions and as far as we can see he is very supportive.

Jrnlsti

Have you privately briefed him on the detail of what you are going to announce yet, he says he can't endorse something without the details?

Hewson: ‘

No not yet. we have a plan as part of this launch to brief colleagues right around Australia. I have been going to each of the States myself as I have been there, and Peter Reith, Alexander Downer and others have gone and given Parliamentary groups a briefing to all the State Parliamentarians as we have gone around, that's very important and we intend to do the same thing at about the same time as the launch.

Jrnlst:

So you would expect that State Leaders will get prior

knowledge of the detail of the package?

Hewson:

We will be hopefully telling them at pretty much the same time as we are announcing it to the people of Australia. It may be a few hours·, ahead but pretty much the same time, maybe the same day. That's part of the launch arrangements that we are putting in place. Not only though just the Parliamentary Party, the organisational people who will have to be very active in the campaign, will also be getting briefing material or there will foe briefing sessions held in different parts of

the country to bring them up to speed as well because we want everyone to be as informed as they can be because they are all part of the campaign in selling it.

Jrnlst: .

You told the Victorians today never to give an inch, what sort of an attack are you expecting from the Government?

Hewson:

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You have seen Bob Hawke he is a desperate man and he ie

capable of throwing anything, saying anything or doing anything. He has mounted a massive scare campaign already, tried to mount a scare campaign, they ran a Medi-scare

campaign in the last election which saw many Labor Party Members threatening pensioners, saying that they wouldn't have their Doctor, they'd die in a hospital queue, this sort of

absolute and blatant dishonesty. The Prime Minister himself lied about the recession, he lied about the succession with the deal he had done with Paul Keating - he is capable of doing anything - and in those circumstances you expect the worst and be prepared to match the substance of the debate.

Jrnlsti '

Would you expect the Victorian State Election to be the first major electoral test of this tax package?

Hewson:

No I see it as a federal issue, I don't think it will be a

State issue, it wasn't an issue in the NSW Campaign. The Labor Party has been running around trying to build a

deceptive ...

Jrnlsti

The detail will presumably be out by then?

Hewson s

I don't know when the Victorian Election is going to be. It could be any time after October for a year, it is quite

possible that Hawke goes before Kirner, not impossible.

Jrnlsti

Dr Hewson do you think that is a likelihood?

Hewson;

I have no idea, I don't know what goes on in Joan Kirner's mind and when she is going to call the election. There is a very real chance that Hawke will go early and he could panic about Keating, he could try and take advantage of the early

days of our campaign to go on the attack, try and catch us with our pants down on goods and services tax, Bob Hawke is running scared he is not actually making rational judgements these days so he may well go early just to see whether he can win another term. ,

HewBont

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Do you think it is likely that Mr Hawke has any influence over Joan Kirner's election timing and may want to use a Victorian election as a teat . . . ?

Hewsont

It is possible, they have shown a capacity in the past to manipulate State elections for political ends, they have made changes in relation to western Australian leadership on a couple of occasions, they are therefore not beyond, I imagine, meddling in the Victorian situation and trying to influence

Joan to go at a particular time. It would be an interesting contest wouldn't it to see whether she was prepared to be sacrificed in terms of the fact that with her standing in the polls in Victoria she would just get thumped.

Jrnlsti

Are you concerned about the popularity of the Labor

Government, how they seem to be bouncing back here in

Victoria?

Hewson:

No, no I didn't come into this business to be popular, I really couldn't care less about the polls, there is only one poll that matters. We expected that our polls would fall off

when we went through this period of hiatus before we released the details and in that sense, sure we have come off a bit in the polls, the Prime Minister went up, principally because he got rid of Keating and the polls just come and go through a year, there is only, as they say, one poll that matters and

that is the *one we are working towards.

Jrnlst: , .

... (inaudible) ...

Hewsoni

... (inaudible) ... there is a lot of reasons why we have had some Federal effect from some State events as people are simply asked more general questions about Parties rather than individuals. But the polls, in a trend sense, have been very good for us and we are delighted to be in front but we really don't care. I don't want to be popular I just want people to' believe that we are going to change this country.

Jrnlst;

... (inaudible) ...

Jrnlst;

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... (inaudible) ... that all our colleagues our out there and believe in it and a part of the process, but essentially it is a Federal issue. He will inevitably be asked questions about it but we see it as a Federal policy strategy, it is not Jeff Kennett's consumption tax he can't introduce a consumption tax

in Victoria so it is wrong to hold him accountable for the consumption tax in Victoria, like it was wrong to try and suggest as Bob Car did, that Nick Greiner was going to

introduce one in NSW. The fact is that they can't introduce one, we can, we are going to and it is going to be part of our tax reform package.

Jrnlst:

... (inaudible) ..., State taxing powers?

Hews on.·

We have got a separate policy on Commonwealth/State financial relations which we will release between now and the next election. We have done a lot of work on it, X have actually

made a number of major speeches on it ...

W W W *

Hewson:

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