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Transcript: am program with Fran Kelly

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Leader of the Opposition

21 July 1995 WH/AB


Topics: Election campaigns, Queensland Election, marginal seats

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K E L LY :

Good morning M r Howard.

H O W A R D :

Good morning Fran.

K E L LY :

It's been quite a week for the Coalition, coming close to snatching a surprise victory in Queensland. What are the lessons that you see for the Coalition federally from that State election?

H O W A R D :

One very simple lesson, and that is that the Party that wins the majority o f the vote doesn't necessarily win the election. What you look like possibly having in Queensland is that we've polled 52.5% o f the two-party preferred vote, however the Labor Party might just fall over the

line, and if that happens it will be the fifth or sixth federal or state election in the last six years that the Labor Party has, in a sense, stolen from us by although falling behind in the popular vote, winning in the marginal seats. And the message that comes out o f that for all o f us around Australia is that it must not be allowed to happen in the federal poll, and that puts

particular responsibility and pressure on the Party organisations in the different states and in the marginal seats. And the priority o f the Liberal Party from now until polling day is to ensure that candidates in marginal seats are doing their jobs properly and that the Party organisations in marginal seats are doing their jobs properly so that we can garner the potential

support for the Coalition and to translate that potential support into actual seats because our system depends on seats, not on who is ahead in fortnightly opinion polls.

Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 Shone 2774022


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K E L LY :

O f course the Government will be trying to do the same thing, and in the past they've been a more effective marginal seat campaigner. How are you going to make sure you are more effective marginally this time around?

H O W A R D :

Well, they haven't always been, but on a number o f occasions when it's counted they have. How effective? Well, one thing we are going to do, o f course, is to be far more

acknowledging o f it, and I detect in the Party on this occasion, unlike earlier occasions, a hard-headed realisation that this is the key to winning the next election. There was always a bit o f an assumption in some quarters until now that if you could get ahead nationally then that would roll over any local deficiencies. It never quite happens like that. It's more likely to happen like that at a federal election where the influence o f individual candidates is not as great as in State elections, but the influence o f those candidates is great and I can say that the different divisions, particularly those divisions where there are a lot o f marginal seats in non­ metropolitan areas are giving very great priority to campaigns in those areas, and I myself am doing the same thing. I'm going to one o f the regional seats in New South Wales tonight and tom orrow morning, and I'm certainly devoting a lot o f my own energy as Leader to campaigning in those marginal provincial seats.

K E L LY :

M r Howard, does there need to be electoral reform to ensure that the Party that gets the most votes wins government?

H O W A R D :

Well, that kind o f reform would represent quite a fundamental change to our system. You'd have to have some saving provision or catch-all. I haven't really addressed my mind to that. The fact is I can't make any changes until I win government, so the question o f whether we might in Government, is something I'll think about then. I mean, quite obviously the Labor Party is not going to change the system between now and the next election, so it's a fairly

empty exercise even thinking about it.

K E L L Y :

You're continuing with your strategy to not reveal policies before an election campaign....

H O W A R D :

Well, that's not right o f course. I mean, the strategy we're continuing isn't to hold up specific campaign details, campaign initiatives, until the campaign, but I unveiled an enormous amount o f policy in my headland speech two days ago, an enormous amount, and that's been widely acknowledged in the media with editorials and commentary talking about 'Howard filling in gaps', 'Howard provides more details'. That was a very comprehensive statement o f the approach that the Coalition would take to economic policy and....


K E L LY :

But you did say some weeks ago that that would be your strategy, didn't you? That you would hold the policies.

H O W A R D :

Fran, look, let's stop making things up. I mean I said at the...


No, I'm not making it up. You did say that to the media about six weeks ago didn't you?

H O W A R D :

Look, when I became Leader I said that I would give general policy directions in the lead up to the campaign and there would be specific campaign initiatives unveiled, and that is exactly what I am doing and this sort o f broad brush comment of, you know, not saying anything is just incorrect. I mean that speech the other day contained a large amount o f economic policy

and that has been very widely recognised.

K E L L Y :

M r Howard, thank you.