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Transcript of the Leader of the Opposition The Hon John Howard MP interview with Wayne Shearman Radio 4QN Northern Extra

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Leader of the Opposition < 1*12

1 March 1996






Hello Wayne.


Good morning, is that John Howard?


Yes speaking.


How are you this morning?


Very well Wayne.


And very busy I imagine.


Yes indeed, but not too busy to talk to you.


If I could just have a brief chat with you. O f course Townsville’s ABC is based on the seat of Herbert, Mr Howard, which primarily is a large army base. Primarily also, o f course, very strong when it comes to public servants. Have you created a IMe bit o f a problem perhaps in saying that one o f your policies would be to cut back on the public


Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 Phone 2774022 Fax 277 2055



Well that's not one o f our policies. The spending cuts that we have proposed involve cuts that don’t resolve in any retrenchments o f public servants. There is a natural wastage factor and what we have in mind is more than absorbed by that and most particularly for Townsville we have a commitment to maintain the current real levels of defence expenditure. We are reallocating defence expenditure to in effect give more resources to personnel and less resources to the administrative side o f the show based in

Canberra. So in that sense our defence policy is a very pro-Townsville policy. Townsville is also an area, o f course, that has many small businesses and our small business policy - which is really the centre piece o f our strategy to reduce youth unemployment - has particular relevance to a city like Townsville. The commitment to redtice red tape by 50% in the first three years, the easing of the Capital Gains Tax on roll-overs, the replacement o f the unfair dismissal law with a sensible unfair dismissal law - all Of those things will be o f great benefit to small business and I think they will be of great benefit to our candidate, Peter Lindsay, who has a very strong record o f local service. He is very well known in the area. He has had a good background in business and I think in all respects he’s an excellent candidate for that kind o f seat


Really the subject of the small business is very hot at the moment M r Howard. We did have a small business action rally in fact only a couple o f days ago which attracted quite a few hundred small business people. It appeared there seemed to be ways o f saving small business put forward by the Nationals, put forward by the Liberals, put forward by Democrats. It seems that the ALP Is the one Party out?


Oh yes, well the ALP is profoundly unsympathetic to small business. It always has been because it has nobody in its ranks who really understands small business. The reason I put so much emphasis on it is that if wc are to make any big reductions in youth unemployment it will only be through a stronger small business sector. And if you go around Qt IEF.NSLAND you find in all the big cities and the towns of QT IF.F.NSLAND, you find that the centre, the heart, the core o f the economy o f so many parts of QT JF.F.NSt.AND is the small business sector.


On to big business Mr Howard and it does appear that the selling of a portion of Telstra could be the archilles heel o f the Liberal policy according to the Labor Party. That’s the part that they have grabbed onto. Do you wish that perhaps you hadn’t come up with that policy? Do you wish the Labor Party would leave it alone and look at things a little more deeply.’




No I ’m not the least bit sorry. On its track record the Labor Party, if it wins tomorrow, will sell 100% of Telstra. They said they wouldn’t sell the Commonwealth Bank but they did. They said they wouldn’t sell Qantas but they did. W e’re not selling more than a third of Telstra. The Government will continue to control Telstra. The special subsidies which will guarantee that the price o f telephone installations will not go up as the Labor Party has falsely alleged, they will be contained in legislation. We will not introduced timed local calls. Those things will be guaranteed in legislation and no more than 12% o f Telstra can be bought by foreigners. We’re talking here about selling one tliird - not 100% - one third of Telstra and we will use $7 billion out o f the $8 billion proceeds of that sale to reduce Australia’s debt. We will use the other $1 billion to put into a special Natural Heritage Trust and that money will be used exclusively to fund additional environmental programs. So ready it is a very well integrated package and I think most Australians see the good sense o f using the proceeds o f sale o f one third to reduce our very big national debt and to use the other Si billion to put into a special fund for the long term benefit of the environment.


It does appear that things are running fairly close. We have or e day prior to the election of course itself and things appear to be running fairly close. We’re allowing for last minute things like the Ralph Willis letter and things o f that nature People apparently will vote though on a comfort level to a degree I believe, M r Howard. If

their life is comfortable then the)' sort of are happy to remain with the Party that’s in power. From the reaction that you’ve received travelling this country, do you think that people are comfortable in their lifestyles at the moment?


Well a lot of people aren’t. A lot of people feel vety worried about whether their sons and daughters are going to get jobs. A lot of families with young children feel under pressure on two fronts. They feel under financial pressure and they also feel the pressure of trying to juggle work and family responsibilities. We have tailored out policies at those two concerns. We are the only Party that has pul forward a decent

comprehensive plan to tackle youth unemployment. The Labor Party has barely talked about it Our family tax package which is affordable, is paid for - and the Labor Party has been unable to shake in any way our costings - that is directed at low income families in particular. The greatest beneficiaries will be people on lower incomes, with a bit of extra help for one income families and sole parents. I think it is wrong to say that everybody feels comfortable. This is a great country. It’s got great potential. But Mr Keating’s constant incantation of “what are they going on about” and “you have

never had it so good”, that doesn’t ring true to many people, and if your son or daughter can’t get a job then you would want to hear more from your Prime Minister about what he can do on youth unemployment then you have heard from M r Keating in this campaign.






.And finally on a very local issue I believe conservationists have called on yourself to offer to buy the embattled Port Hinchinbrook Resort. Prime Minister Keating has floated the option of a buy back. He said it is an option. What are your thoughts on the $100 million Keith Williams’ development?


Our view is that any application o f that kind have to be dealt with according to the strict criteria chat we have in place to protect the environment and to assess all other interests. M r Keating is floating an option. Well what does that mean? That sounds like trying to have the best of both worlds. I’m simply saying that airy proposals o f that kind will have to run the gauntlet o f the environmental concerns and the other things that ought to be taken into account. I’m not going to try and have two bob each way. I’m simply stating an attitude and that attitude is that the proposals have got to be judged against the proper concerns that people have for the environment and also the legitimate concerns people have for job creation and business generation.


John Howard thank you for your time on Northern Extra this morning.


It’s a pleasure.

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