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Transcript of doorstop interview with Dr John Hewson

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Leader of the Opposition



Subjects: ALP leadership struggle; reform package and the wine industry;


Dr Hewson, the recent turmoil in the Labor Party, the dumping of John Kerin, is it the end of Bob Hawke?


Well, the real test for Bob Hawke now is whether he's prepared to recall Parliament. He'd have to face a Caucus meeting and I challenge him to actually recall the Parliament, as he's

foreshadowed, between now and Christmas, and then to settle the leadership issue once and for all. He's got a unique opportunity to do it, the Government is totally paralysed. It's about time they settled his standing in the Party, they settled the

leadership issue and he got on and governed the country, or whoever wins should get on and govern the country.




Well, that seems to be the imagery that is being created by some people in the ALP, certainly the New South Wales Right yesterday created the impression that Bob Hawke is on his last days. It is time for Bob Hawke to show some leadership. I challenge him to recall the Parliament, hold his Caucus meeting and settle the

leadership issue once and for all.


Well, how long do you think this situation can continue before the Labor Party is totally destabilised.

Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 Phone 2774022 CO M M O NW EALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY tviiCAH


Well, they are totally destabilised and that's why I think there is a sense of urgency for settling it now. He ought to settle it, he can settle it, Parliament is due to resume before

Christmas, so let's call it back later this week, have his Caucus meeting, have the leadership vote and settle the issue.


Do you think he will do it?


He should, as I say, there is some legislation coming back from the Senate, there is an opportunity there, it has been

foreshadowed that Parliament would sit either this week or next week - we are yet to be told when it is. I think he should call

Parliament back, as I say, hold the Caucus meeting, have a vote and settle the issue once and for all. Whether it's Keating or whether it's any one of a number of others in the Melbourne Cup field, let's find out, let's get the matter settled, let's get

on and govern the country, because we're in the worst recession in 60 years. Everybody out in the electorate is crying out for some leadership. We've put down an alternative, we've put down some policies that the government can follow and I'd like to see them get on and implement some of those policies.


... in your Coalition package. Senator Graham Richardson is quoted in the Sunday Age today as saying that Labor would do even better. What's your reaction?


Well, they've had nine years, almost, in government and really what our package says is this is the sort of thing you should have done over the last nine years. You could have had Australia in a significantly better shape if you had have. I'm pleased in

that sense that even Senator Richardson is going to implement some of those policies. We've already seen one of them picked up, the Coal Export Levy has been abolished. That was one of our proposals and there have been other hints already, not only Richardson but other Ministers, that they are going to steal bits

and pieces. I think they ought to implement the lot, I think they ought to embrace this excellent policy package and turn this country around. We'll certainly support them.


The Small Business Association is going one better, saying that Mr Hawke should basically flatout out resign. He can't govern while he's looking over his shoulder. Do you think that

increased pressure from business may have some sort of effect.



I think what it does is put Mr Hawke under real pressure to

settle the issue once and for all. He can certainly settle it and he should call on a vote and, if he's not worried about his leadership the simple thing is to call on a vote and settle it. And it's, the electorate is just fascinated at the choice that's

being presented. You can imagine a choice between Keating, the architect of the whole demise and Bob Hawke, but it is important that they settle it, and, you know, or open the field up to

others. We see Simon Crean and Kim Beazley and Brian Howe and maybe even Ralph Willis see themselves all as potential

leadership leaders of the ALP so they ought to just hold the Melbourne Cup leadership vote once and settle the issue so they can get on and govern the country.


What are the odds of Hawke surviving?


Well, I can't really put odds on it. You listen to the New South Wales Right, the answer is zero, he's got no chance of surviving. But I think people just want it settled. The electorate is

intolerant of all this speculation and I'm sure they're totally confused. There seems to be a push to bring back Mr Keating. You know putting Keating in charge of a government would be like putting Saddam Hussein in charge of Kuwait. It's just a

ridiculous concept that they would be so desperate as to go back to the architect of the whole demise, but, people want it

settled, so let's get it settled and Bob Hawke can do that, he can recall Parliament, he can hold the Caucus meeting, he can pull on a vote, he can settle the issue and then hopefully the issue will be settled once and for all.


So you'd rather face Paul Keating at the next election.


Well, if Keating gets up it will be a godsend to us, let me tell you. You couldn't give Paul Keating away in a chook raffle.


Dr Hewson, on another matter, what have you been able to offer the wine industry today.



Well, we think our package is overwhelmingly favourable to the wine industry, the abolition of payroll tax, the abolition of petrol excise and most importantly the abolition of sales tax are fundamentally beneficial to the wine industry. If you look at

the whole package, though, some of the changes in other costs, the lowering of transport costs, the cleaning up of the

waterfront, lowering the costs of electricity generation and so on, are all beneficial to this industry and, of course, most importantly we've taken a decision not to impose an excise tax on the wine industry as part of this package. So collectively

I think the industry is significantly better off, and it's one of the true value-added industries in Australia. It's in fact, the industry that probably adds more value than any other in Australia and it's cracking international markets, exports and

booming, ...(inaudible)... the industry, the wine industry will support, which is what our package does.


What's the industry's response to that?


Well, I think they're very pleased with the tone of the meeting this morning. You'd be better to ask the industry than to ask me but I thought they were very supportive. They've struggled for years with excessive taxation, they've done the right thing,

they've gone out pretty much on their on own, and cracked very difficult international wine markets against the world's top producers, they've demonstrated we can make wine that is at least as good a quality as the rest of the world, in some cases you

would say better. And they're cracking markets in the UK, in the US, in Sweden, in Japan, it's an export success story and in that sense our package will be giving them an even better chance to perform off-shore.


... consumption tax on wine.


There will be a GST on wine, but with the abolition of sales tax and petrol excise and payroll, the net effect is going to be quite small. As far as the wine producers are concerned, and the industry as a whole, their export bases are stronger, they're more competitive as a result of the package and they should do

even better in the international market. As I say, the have done very well in recent years with phenomenal growth in exports around the world.




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I don't know. I think the industry will probably do their own sums on that. The whole package is designed to eliminate the cost disadvantages under which the industry presently operates and they are significant disadvantages that are being eliminated.


. . .(inaudible)...


Look, I don't know. That's a decision that they'd have to m a k e . With just the change from the sales tax to the goods and services tax, I think, adds about five cents to a glass of wine, but if you look at the whole package and the abolition of petrol excise

and payroll and the elimination of the other cost disadvantages, I don't know. That's a decision that the industry will obviously make and in due course, I imagine they will provide some

estimates for y o u .

Thank y o u .

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