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Just a slip of the tongue

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Peter Reith



The release of the transcript of a second television interview by Senator Button on the subject of the budget growth forecasts shows that Senator Button is guilty of much more than one

isolated "slip of the tongue" as the Government would have

everyone believe.

The attached transcript, which has not previously been released, shows that after the "live" interview on the "Sunday" program Senator Button did a second interview with Network Ten, in

Melbourne, in which he expressed further doubts over the budget growth forecasts.

The Government wants everyone to believe that Senator Button made one isolated "slip of the tongue" and then immediately set the record straight via a press release.

That is not what happened.

Straight after the "Sunday" program had gone "live" to air, and with full knowledge that his doubts over the budget growth

forecasts had aroused media attention, Senator Button granted the Ten Network an interview in which he raised more doubts over the growth forecasts.

In the interview with Channel Ten, Senator Button said meeting the budget growth forecasts would be a "month by month thing", that it's "all a question of timing", and that it was "too early to say" whether the growth forecasts would be met over the full

financial year.

This new transcript clearly shows that Senator Button was not guilty of one isolated "slip of the tongue".

It shows he had thought carefully about what he wanted to say and had actually granted a second interview to get the message


12 October 1992 Canberra

Contact: David Turnbull (06) 277 4277 D160/92






Q Do you think Prime Minister Keating's been treated unfairly with his claim that the recession is over?

A Well, this sort of thing happens in politics. He's right

in saying the recession is over but it's quite clear from everything he's done, we're fully aware of the consequences that the recession's not over, so that's why we spent so much money in the recent budget to try and stimulate

employment in various local government areas and so on.

Q On that budget, are the targets that have been set there

going to be reached?

A Well, I think so. I mean, the fact of the matter is that

it's all a question of timing. I mean, the budget targets are for through the year, we may have shown a little slower growth in the start of the financial year than we might

have expected but whether those targets will be met is

really too early to say. I mean it's a sort of month by

month thing.

Q You seemed to express a few minutes ago a doubt as to

whether they would be attained, certainly in relation to jobs.

A Well, it's a question of when they'll be obtained. I mean, I, you know, there's a lot of expenditure that has to come through the budget and so on which will be stimulatory in terms of jobs. That's been slower than we would have

wished but I think it will have its effects and the

question is when. I'm not saying that it's impossible to obtain the budget figures for a moment.

Q It is, what, the sort of doubt you seem to have at the back

of your mind at least, is that because the economy hasn't picked up quite as fast as you would hope?

A Well, the economy hasn't over the last year or so picked up

as fast as everybody would have hoped. And that's true in Australia and it's true everywhere else. And so you know there are no sort of crystal balls about these things.

We'd, as the Prime Minister said, the Australian economy is now growing. That's an achievement which a lot of other countries don't share. But it will take a little time for the consequences of that growth to be reflected in

employment and so on.

. . . / 2



Q Is that, is that slower than hopeful growth going to be an

impediment for you come the next election?

A Oh, I think the next election will be decided on a variety

of issues. I mean, no Opposition can go into the next

election, as John Howard has said on a number of occasions, promising they'll create a whole lot of new employment. That's the issue which will be a neutral one, I think, in

the election because of that.

Q You don't think that jobs is going to be one of the key


A Well, it is, it is in some ways but if any Opposition or

any Government goes into the next election saying we're going to get rid of unemployment altogether in the next 12 months, they're lying to themselves and to the Australian people.

Q Of all those targets that have been set, which one do you

think is likely to fare the worse? Is it going to be on

the jobs growth side?

A I think that is, well it's, it's a lagged indicator of any

period of economic change and that's the hardest one to pick, that's all I'm saying. But we can pick inflation

targets better, we can pick business investment targets probably better, this is the hardest one to pick in the

world economy at the present time, not just Australia.

Q Thanks a lot.