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Transcript of the Hon John Howard MP, Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, Employment and Training, interviwed on "The World Today", ABC Radio



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PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

JOHN HOWARD, MP

MEMBER FOR BENNELONG SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING

E & OE

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING, INTERVIEWED ON "THE WORLD TODAY", ABC RADIO, THURSDAY 23 APRIL 1992.

One of the Liberal Party's most senior frontbenchers, John Howard, says Prime Minister Keating has indulged in forelock-tugging while in Indonesia and has lacked the dignity

expected of a leader by raising the issue of the Australian flag while in a foreign capital.

Mr Keating yesterday said people in the region must wonder about Australia representing itself with a British flag in the corner of its own flag and that should change. Mr Howard said Mr Keating was trying to ingratiate himself with our regional

leaders.

The Shadow Minister also called on NSW MPs to stick with Nick Greiner despite the lack of finesse exhibited by his state government in recent days.

But, back on the flag issue, John Shovelan this morning asked Mr Howard what was wrong with Mr Keating's reference in Jakarta to the Australian flag.

Howard Can you ever imagine President Suharto or Dr Mahatir of Malaysia canvassing in Sydney or Canberra future constitutional arrangements within their own countries? They would have more respect for the dignity and the sense of independence of their countries.

I find it quite appalling that an issue as sensitive to the internal constitutional arrangements of Australia should be publicly canvassed by our Prime Minister in a foreign capital and of course in

the capital of a country that has an infinitely different system of government than we have. I have no argument with the right of Indonesia to have her own system of government but its infinitely different from our own. The respect for democratic traditions that exists in this country obviously doesn't exist in many of the countries of our region

including Indonesia.

Shovelan So you don't think that they'd actually understand our institutions and our democratic process?

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To put it bluntly I don't think it is any of their business whether we are a republic or a constitutional monarchy or whether our flag contains the Union Jack or doesn't contain the Union Jack.

It is like the nerve and the hide of Mr Keating, trying to ingratiate himself in the region, to lay bare a sensitive, internal constitutional issue in Australia while he's supposed to be representing all Australians.

If he had respect for all of the people of Australia, as their Prime Minister, he would not expose very sensitive constitutional issues relating entirely to Australians ...

Is it just as serious a crime, Mr Howard, as Peter Reith raising the issue of the politicisation of the Reserve Bank in front of a group of bankers from the region?

Look, the politicisation of the Reserve Bank is hardly as serious as whether we are a constitutional monarchy or a republic.

Mr Howard, the flag issue wouldn't be all that's on your mind at the moment. Is the Coalition disunity over tariffs potentially an issue that could defeat the conservatives at the next election?

No. I don't believe that for a moment.

Well this morning the Queensland Liberal Party President, Paul Everingham, said that the Queensland Nationals were running a wrecker's race like that of Joh Bjelke-Petersen back in '87 against you.

I suppose nobody knows more about the '87 events than I do. This situation is not as serious as that and comparisons with it, whilst I understand the reason why they're being made, are exaggerated.

You have a situation where local concerns in a certain part of Queensland, and I'm here now, are naturally producing some critical reaction from Queensland senators.

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Now I've made it clear to the cane growers I've met that there will be no change in Coalition policy. I've explained that their real enemy is the Labor

Party because the Labor Party wants to get rid of tariffs but do nothing about the cost burdens that make it impossible for tariff-free industries to compete effectively.

Shovelan Mr Howard, all this is making it very difficult for the Coalition to sell its message. In addition you've got the government in NSW, a Coalition Government in NSW, in disarray. Do you approve of

an appointment like that of Terry Methere11's?

Howard Look, I'm not going to act as an apologist for, or an advocate of, particular actions of the NSW Government.

I naturally, as a Liberal from Sydney, believe that a Liberal Government led by Nick Greiner is the best thing for NSW. I think it is a pity that all the good work the Greiner Government has done has been overshadowed by a lack of finesse in other matters.

I have never disguised the contempt I hold for Terry Methere11. Anybody who will treat his party as shamelessly as he has done doesn't deserve anything in my view.

I hope that in the broad sweep of politics in NSW the quality of government that Nick Greiner has delivered in areas that matter - like industrial relations reform, transport reform - and the general

fact that NSW has the best credit rating of any state government in Australia, I would hope that those considerations will be uppermost in the minds not only of the voters of NSW, but I suggest the members of the parliamentary Liberal Party in NSW.

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