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G re a t D ebate 1, C hannel 9, 11 F e b ru a ry 1996 [w ith R ay M artin]: tra n s c rip t. Paul KEATING; John HOWARD, MP. Press release fPrime Minister!· 11 Feb. 1996: 35p. Text item: 9 5 -1 8 9 1 (O n lin e)

The text of this press release has been scanned electronically from the original. Freedom from errors or omissions cannot be guaranteed.


JE F F MCMULLEN: Tonight on 60 Minutes: Keating versus Howard. Good evening. I'm Jeff McMullen.

Well, finally after much debate, the Great Debate. For Paul Keating, behind in the polls, it's a chance to regain last ground. For John Howard, an opportunity to consolidate. For all of us, a time to decide.

In a moment we'll be crossing live and without commercials for the next hour to Ray Martin. Here in this studio we will be scoring the leaders and later bringing you the verdict.

In our audience tonight, uncommitted voters, selected by Roy Morgan Research. They are ordinary Australians chosen precisely because they haven't yet made up their minds.

Each has one of these electronic monitors. Turn this way indicates they like what's being said; this way, they don't. Each of the monitors is hooked up to a central computer which averages the reaction of the entire audience and which appears on a screen like this, high when the audience is in favour, low when it's not.

Because this broadcast is being fed to other stations, the worm won't be seen during the actual debate. Our audience and the worm will come into play afterwards when I return with political correspondent Paul Lyneham to analyse the debate.

But right now we are ready to cross to Ray Martin, moderator of tonight's proceedings.

RAY MARTIN: Welcome and thank you for joining us in the Channel Nine studios tonight five for what we hope will be a lively Great Debate.

Gentlemen, thank you both for being with us tonight.

PAUL KEATING: It's my pleasure.

MARTIN: Paul Keating and John Howard have agreed to the ground rules tonight, equal time with a fair go, of course, and they ask for this to be a free wheeling debate, ranging from a host of topics that both interest and trouble you voters as you try to make up your minds this election year.

They have both agreed to keep their answers as brief as possible, good luck on th at one

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when you come down to it.

John Howard has won the toss to keep the cricketing analogy going and Paul Keating has been sent in to bat.

So, the first ball to you Paul. As the Prime Minister are you the servant of the people or the boss?

KEATING: Oh, absolutely the servant and I've always taken the view that, th at one thing about the Australian three year Parliamentary term is th at every three years you've got to come back and explain yourself, explain what you've done and seek a fresh mandate because this is the one time, the one time in the Parliam entary cycle where the men and women of Australia can find out what the Party leaders think, where our policies are going, to enfranchise them to sign the party leaders up.

Now I've always been a very willing participant in th at process. I think I've done more press conferences than anyone in Australian federal history over the years. I am happy to debate anywhere, any time. I handle all the door stops if anyone asks -MARTIN: Wasn't about that over the past two weeks.

KEATING: No, well, it was sure for me, but let me just say this. I believe in accountability, th at all power flows from the people, as it m ust and th at real power can only come if a government has the support of the people.

So I regard this as a very legitimate part of the process of going back saying, what I believe, what the government wants to do, seeking their support and, in getting it, having them sign the government up for three more years. And then we do it all over again the next time.

MARTIN: Well John Howard it seems th at the street vibe is th at you haven't served, neither of you have served the people very well, th at in fact, there is a distinct message th at they don't like Paul Keating and they regard you as someone who has been recycled three times.

How do you get over th at cynicism?

JO H N HOWARD: Well I think we'll know about th at on the second of March, but I get over that, if it exists, by putting a very simple proposition: th at when you have a government that's been in power for thirteen years and it's showing all the signs that this Government is of being out of touch, of being arrogant, of taking people for granted, the treaty with Indonesia, a classic case.

What the Prime Minister said when he was asked 'why didn't you take the people into your confidence?' He said 'well, if I'd have told them, they mightn't have liked it.'

I mean what a mark of arrogance! In other words, these high and mighty things are too important for we the leaders, we the governors of Australia to let the people in about. I

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mean, a moment ago he said he was the servant of the people. He wasn't the servant of the people when it came to the signing of th at treaty which, conceptually, I agreed with, but the process was all wrong. So you have this mark of arrogance.

Thirteen years is a long time and all the signs of arrogance are there, all the signs of remoteness, all the signs of being out of touch and when you look at the record, you have to acknowledge th at there are fundamental weaknesses in Australia at the present time.

We have a foreign debt which is now over a hundred and eighty thousand million dollars. We have a scandalous level of youth unemployment. We have this arrogant view in relation to small business from the Prime Minister th at this is as good as it gets.

I mean, what an insult to the small business men and women of Australia for this man to say th at this is as good as it ever gets when we've got some of the highest real interest rates in the world, when we've got an enormous amount of red tape, when we've got unfair dismissal laws that are actually discouraging small business from taking on more staff.

So you've really, I mean I get over any cynicism by saying th at after thirteen years the arrogance, the taking for granted attitude is there and the failed record is there. And of course on top of that, ringing in everybody's ears in this election campaign is a word called L-A-W which is a symbol of this Government's deceit of the Australian people.

KEATING: Well Ray do you want me to -MARTIN: He’s covered the waterfront there so I think we'll come back to a lot of those.

KEATING: Well let me take some of those things up.

MARTIN: No, no hang on, we'll come back to some of those. Honestly I really just wanted an opening statem ent but similarly it's obviously about perceptions. Irrespective of what you say or what Paul Keating says, it's what the public think.

A woman on talk back radio just last week I heard say th at Ί agree th at it's time for a change,’ she said, 'but John Howard has got to offer something more exciting than a half dead version of the past.' That's the perception John.

HOWARD: That may be the perception of some, but the perception of others is th at I offer people a sense of optimism and a sense of change, th at I am addressing the problem of youth unemployment. People are responding to the fact th at I have a practical vision to reduce unemployment by getting small business to go again.

You get a mixture of views on talk back radio. I've heard just as many people saying Ί admire the fact John, that despite some of the adversity th at you've been through, you've stuck there. You've survived. It shows th at you've got a commitment to Australia's future. It shows th at you've hung in over the long haul to implement the values and principles for which you've always stood.'

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MARTIN: Well on perceptions Paul, the other perception of course is Wayne Goss has said, your mate, in Queensland has said th at in fact Queenslanders are waiting on the front porch with a baseball bat waiting to clobber you when you get up there.

KEATING: Well Ray, all that sort of stuff was around three years ago and all this stuff th at John goes on about arrogance.

Honesty and credibility, in public life starts with policies. The most arrogant thing you can do to the Australian community is not show them your policies.

John's been elected, now, Leader of the Liberal Party for thirteen months. We're now twenty days away from the election. He has no policy on health out there. I'm the only party leader going to an election with funded policies. He has no funding for his policies and he's not been prepared, today, to say they're there -

(Interruption - Martin talking over the top)

Ju st going to say - and so, when one talks about arrogance, I think arrogance is saying to the public - because when Mr Howard says, when John says to me, Ί won't show you my policies', he's really saying, Ί won't show the Australian people my policies', so it will be twenty days away from an election. That I think is high arrogance.

Could I, also say, just correct a couple of things. With Indonesia I never ever said the Australian community wouldn't like it. I was very proud of th a t work.

But you'd have - you'd have to be unreal to think th at a country which has been largely governed by a government which has very strong links to a very large army, which was part of the whole independence movement of the country - if anyone thinks th at you can secure a treaty of substance with a public discussion before those people do not think

about it or come to judgements about it.

I mean, it would have been impossible for me to negotiate th at without first developing th at through the Indonesian Armed Forces, the Indonesian Government, and then saying immediately to the Australian people, upon it being agreed, here it is.

Can I just take up another point. John's said, now, for a year, about the L-A-W Law tax cuts. This is one of the great mis-truths of Australian politics. The first round was paid in full on the 1st November, 1993. In full. Brought forward a year early and paid in full.

The second round was put back by twelve months to 1997, and in John's own policy document, he says, 'we'll be paying the earmarked’ - get the word - 'the earmarked tax cuts into superannuation accounts'.

Well, if he's paying the tax cuts into superannuation accounts th at we promised, how come he can say we broke our promise. If he's actually portending in these documents, he's going to pay them, how can - well, how could he say th at they've not been paid when the first round have been paid in full and he intends to pay the second.

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MARTIN: Well, let's go to specifics, here. Let's go to specifics, John. I mean, today, the Prime Minister, Mr Keating, pulled a rabbit out of his h at by saying: Look, the Government, his Government, if he gets re-elected, will pay for its election promises by collecting eight hundred million dollars from Australia's richest people who have been

avoiding tax.

Was this the killer punch th at you feared?

HOWARD: I mean, thirteen years - isn't it convenient suddenly he turns up on the doorstep three weeks after the election.

KEATING: Last December.

HOWARD: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Admit it you've had thirteen years in and isn't it convenient th a t it lands on the doorstep.

But look, I'll have a look at that. If there are any measures th at are needed to stamp out ram pant tax avoidance they will have our support.

But the real issue about costings, Ray, is why won't Paul allow the head of the Treasury to brief me, and therefore the Australian public, on the state of the budget outlook for next year.

That's the killer. That's the key issue about costing. I mean, it's good enough to send the Commissioner of Taxation down to Melbourne to brief Peter Costello about tax avoidance but it's not good enough to send the head of the Treasury -MARTIN: Happen today did it?

HOWARD: Yes, it happened this afternoon.

MARTIN: Righto.

HOWARD: He saw him at six o'clock. So you can put Carmody on the plane down to Melbourne to brief Costello about tax but you won't tell us, Paul, whether the estimate of - forward estimates - of the budget of last May - you won't tell us - you won’t let the head of the Treasury tell us whether there's been any change -

KEATING: I can John. I'll tell you all I can.

HOWARD: What about letting the head of the Treasury tell us because he's the umpire.

(Keating and Howard talking over the top of each other)

A lot of Australians don't believe and some Australians may not believe me but the believe the independent umpire. Why won't you let Ted Evans tell us whether there's

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been any change in the forecast on the budget.

KEATING: The big issue in this election, Ray, with spending, is whether the spending adds to the budget task, is neutral to the budget task, or, actually, relieves the budget task.

Today, when I stood up and announced that funding, our commitments amount to three and a half billion over four years and the measures I announced, today, will raise seven billion over four years. Twice as much. We would be, I think, the only government in Federal history that ever went to an election campaign and actually proved the budget in the course of the election.

MARTIN: What about the question, though?

KEATING: No, well, hang on hang on, actually approved the budget in the course of an election. So, what we're doing - not only are our commitments - th at is the big extension of Medicare into dentistry and ophthalmology and physiotherapy - announced, will be

delivered and are now paid for - like the Pacific Highway - is announced by us and paid for - like the ferries in Tasmania - paid for. Like the busway in Brisbane - paid for.

MARTIN: Why isn't possible for you, as Mr Howard just said - as the Prime Minister say to the head of Treasury, 'get your computers out, tell us what the situation is right now'?

KEATING: Ju st understand this point. That is, the debate arose about the parties not showing where the money is coming from. I'm the only person in this election, I'm the only one in this room, who has actually said where the money is coming from and I put it all out there, today.

And I'd be very pleased to know whether John Howard is going to have - would he as a government, actually, support the Tax Commissioner to follow down those people - one hundred individuals - avoiding eight hundred million in tax.

MARTIN: You keep avoiding the question th at journalists have asked since last week. I mean, Is there a deficit? What's the latest? Why can't you give Australian people - not John Howard - the Australian people the latest figure?

KEATING: What we've given - is what John Howard never gave in office - and th at is the three out-years of the budget balance. The three out-years of the surplus.

John Howard is telling us we have to look at the books. You know what the forecast surplus for the coming year was? Three point four billion. What did he do with it? He cut two point five billion out of it in the Senate by knocking over the airport privatisations.

In other words he's so concerned about the budget surplus, he actually put a two point five billion dollar hold - and what for? To save his own seat of Bennelong.

Now, I've told people and I'll tell you, Ray, what we need to get the number for the

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budget surplus for the coining year is the December quarter national accounts, the March quarter, the June quarter, the full tax year's base.

And when we get those things we'll get a number. We'll get th at in the first week of August. The budget is not till August. And to be going around making this point now - let me just say - in 1983, when I was sworn in as Treasurer after John Howard - I'm sure all Australia knows th at he carried in his head th at nine point six billion dollar number

which he kept secret all the way through the election campaign.

Four and a half percent of GDP - you know what th at is in today's dollars, Ray? A twenty two billion budget deficit, in today's dollars.

MARTIN: So, because he did it, it's okay -KEATING: No, no no. He kept that a secret from the public and it was announced to me by the Secretary of the Treasury in the closed bar at the Lakeside Hotel with his colleagues saying, 'here’s the bad news'. Ray, -MARTIN: So, you won't show him the latest estimates?

KEATING: No, I'm just telling you. The latest - we've got a mid year review. We've just published a mid year review of the budget. Ju st two weeks ago. In other words, we published three forward years of outlays -MARTIN: Right.

KEATING: - three forward years of receipts, and three forward years of the budget balance plus a half year review.

MARTIN: Ju st say th at you'd been Treasurer, is th at the last information -

KEATING: What else can I do?

HOWARD: It's got to be understood. What the Prime Minister has just said is th at he so holds the Australian people with contempt th at he won't tell the eighteen million shareholders of Australia the state of the national accounts.

They've got a very good reason, you know, Paul, because you remember your a One Nation tax cuts, you know the L-A-W Law tax cuts - you know th at they were based on estimates th at were cooked up in your own office -KEATING: Ooh! -

HOWARD: They were. Ray, I had the evidence - I have the evidence of the then Secretary of the Treasury, -KEATING: P ut it in a book, John, p ut it in a book.

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HOWARD: - the then Secretary of the Treasury, Tony Cole, on a Four Corners program - and you know this - th at he said that, unlike custom, the estimates were, in fact, devised in your office. Not by the Treasurer -KEATING: That was untrue.

HOWARD: So the Australian -KEATING: That was untrue.

HOWARD: - have been told by you that they're not good enough to be told the true state of the national accounts. I mean, you've just spent two minutes ignoring the most fundamental question about costings all together -KEATING: John, how can you say that? How can you say th at when you have, today, refused to reveal how you will fund your election commitments?

HOWARD: I'll be revealing on them on Thursday.

KEATING: Look, you're becoming a specialist, is this, saying -HOWARD: I'll be putting out costings on Thursday.

(Talking over the top of each other)

MARTIN: Hang on, hang on. Give him a fair go.

KEATING: You won't tell us - I'm the only one - Ray, I'm the only one who stood there and put the numbers out.

MARTIN: Okay. Well come to that.

HOWARD: You’ve just spent two minutes avoiding the central issue of the campaign.

KEATING: It’s not -

HOWARD: You won't let the Treasury tell the public the truth about the books -

KEATING: It's not the central issue at all. It's the central issue -

HOWARD: You can go on about '83 -KEATING: The promises you now had. That's the central issue -HOWARD: You can go on about '83 and you can go on about policy but what are you hiding?

MARTIN: Let me ask you -

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HOWARD: What are you hiding?

MARTIN: Let me ask you the question, John? I mean, if, in fact, the big businessmen and the economists and the Reserve Bank are right - if, in fact, there is a sizeable deficit, whether Paul Keating knows about it or not and he says he doesn't - if there's a sizeable deficit, if you were to get into office - three billion dollars or nine billion dollars or fifteen, if you listen to your mate Jeff Kennett. Does th at mean, then, th at your policies

are going to have to be savagely cut when you get there because -HOWARD: Well, I can tell you this. The promises I'm making to people won't be.

MARTIN: Irrespective of what the deficit is?

HOWARD: Well, they won't be. I mean, we have predicated our commitment -

MARTIN: But you've said no tax increases.

HOWARD: No, no, no. Well, can I just finish? We've predicated our commitment about having an underlying surplus on the basis th at the May figure remains good. But so far as - 1 mean th at is the basis of that commitment.

But if I make commitments to individuals I'm not going to break those commitments.

MARTIN: But if you were nine billion dollars - I'm sorry but -

HOWARD: No. It's a fair question.

MARTIN: If you're nine billion dollars in debt and you find you're in government, aren't you going to have to -HOWARD: I don't believe it's that. I actually have quite a high regard for the forecasting capacities of the Treasury and the Department of Finance. Both of them are very professional outfits. That’s why we ought, for the purposes of illumination, in this

whole campaign, we ought to have the benefit of their advice. I mean, it is -MARTIN: If you trust them then why don't you know the truth. Why are you making such an issue?

HOWARD: Because one person, because -KEATING: He won't give his funding commitments, that's why.

HOWARD: Because only one person ... well my funding commitments will be explained

KEATING: You won’t own up, John.

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HOWARD: They will be explained next Thursday. Right?

(Talking over the top of each other)

MARTIN: Don't interrupt. Come! Come! don't interrupt. You've had a good go.

HOWARD: If I explain my funding commitments, next Thursday, will you let the Secretary of the Treasury brief the Australian people, next Thursday, about the state of the books.

KEATING: Ray, let's get this dear.

HOWARD: Will you?

KEATING: The budget is in surplus. Not withstanding -

HOWARD: I want to hear th at from Treasury, not from you -KEATING: Well, please don't you interrupt, John. The budget is in surplus. Next year it would have been three point four billion in surplus but Mr Howard, wilfully, knocked

two point five billion out of the surplus by refusing the sale of the airport.

MARTIN: Can I ask, John, as an ordinary Aussie, I mean where are all the economists and bankers and - why are they wrong?

KEATING: But Ray - look, John, wants to get away from the central issue of the campaign - the really central issue - and th at is: why after twenty years of believing in a whole range of policies, he now no longer believes them.

Why, he's trying to look like a Fabian Socialist - a Labor leader -when he's always described himself as the most conservative leader the Liberal Party has ever had.

And I could ask him, perhaps, this question, John, what if I were to say to you: 'look I believed in a Republic all my life, I've believed in a Republican model for Australia but because, now, there's quite a few people still have these traditional attachments to the monarchy, I'm now a monarchist. I'm now a monarchist.

Would I be entitled to be believed? Would I be entitled to be believed if after all those years of support, of belief in a Republic, I say, at five minutes before an election, I now believe in the monarchy.

And that's w hat I ask John, why does he think he's entitled to be believed on Medicare, on industrial relations, on the environment, when at every stage in his political career until just five - four or five minutes ago - he was opposed to Medicare and wanted to destroy it.

He was for basically moving to a radical change in industrial relations to push people onto individual contracts which will see the wages and conditions cut. And why has he

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always attacked everything done with the environment to find, five minutes before an election, he wants to get out there and say he's an environmentalist?

I mean I'm not entitled, Ray, to say, 'I'm a monarchist', anymore than John's entitled to say he's seen the light five minutes before a poll?

HOWARD: There's a lot of things I know about you, Paul, and there's one thing I do know about you but whenever you're in trouble on your mainstream political issue you always crank up the republic. I mean, there we were we were talking about, we were talking about the state of the books, we were talking about whether you were willing to let the Australian people know.

KEATING: But I've done th at today, John.

HOWARD: Ju st a moment!

KEATING: I've done th at today. I'm accounted.

HOWARD: No you haven't.

KEATING: I've been out there.

HOWARD: No, you haven't.

KEATING: It’s on the news. You mightn't have seen it.

HOWARD: The starting point of any truthful debate about costings in this campaign is to know whether or not the forward estimates released by the Treasury, last May, are still valid.

And you have spent ten minutes dodging and weaving and avoiding that.

KEATING: Not at all.

HOWARD: And you can drag up the republic and, you know, cheers me no end to hear you cranking up the good old republic -KEATING: All I want to know is why did you change your mind, John, -HOWARD: When you're in trouble you run the republic over the trail in front of Howard, th at will get him going.

KEATING: John, I just want to -HOWARD: Boy, I can pick you a mile off.

MARTIN: Ju st a second.

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KEATING: Why did you change your mind on Medicare after all these years? Why did you change your mind on industrial relations after all these years? Why did you change you mind? Isn't it you'd like to just tippy toe into office and then we all get the bad news later?

MARTIN: Alright, let's move on.

HOWARD: Talking about tippy toeing into office and get the bad news later that reminds me of 1993.

KEATING: Can I just say one final thing -

MARTIN: No, no.

(All talking over each other)

HOWARD: You've done very well, thanks.

MARTIN: Let me go into Medicare. Let's take up th at topic th at Paul's raised. I mean, what's the best thing about Medicare?

HOWARD: I think the Medicare gives people a sense of security. Look, when Medicare was first introduced I was critical of it. I don't deny th at -KEATING: Critical!

HOWARD: I don't deny th at and so were a lot of other Australians. But over the years people have grown to support it. It gives them a sense of security and it now has our total support. And there's no law of politics that says th at you can't over a period of time change your view about an issue.

I mean, Paul, you were once a passionate advocate of a goods and services tax. You went around the country and you said anybody who didn't support a goods and services tax was sort of a gutless wimp. And, yet, you changed your view over that. I mean, I accept th a t when Medicare was first introduced I was critical of it and I won't deny th at but -KEATING: Critical! You been critical for years.

HOWARD: - but over the years I've seen the Australian people grow to like it. It gives them security. What they are now worried about is the fact th at they can't afford health - private health insurance.

The biggest complaint I hear about the health system is the number of people going out of private insurance - even Graham Richardson, the former Health Minister, said that once the number of people in private health insurance falls below forty per cent, you'll have a big problem.

In 1983, when Mr Keating's party came to power, sixty one percent of Australians had

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private health insurance, it's now down to thirty five percent.

And the more people drift out of private health insurance, the greater the strain you are putting on the public health system. So, what we need to strengthen Medicare, to buttress it, to protect it, is to give people taxation incentives - and we will be announcing our policy on that, tomorrow, - to either remain in private health insurance.

MARTIN: Rebates?

HOWARD: Well, tax rebates is a good way. Light rebates. Rebates th at were dreadful things until a week ago when the Prime Minister suddenly decided to give them.

KEATING: It's not a tax rebate, it's cash -HOWARD: Can I just make it very d ea r that I don't deny the criticism I made of Medicare. Ten or more years ago. Or eight or nine years ago. I don't deny that. People

change their views on issues just as Paul Keating has changed his view on the GST, so I have on Medicare. It is now root and branch part of our policy -MARTIN: But do you understand, John, why people would say - cynics might well say well, hang on this is d e a r th at he says th at they lost votes last time - there are votes

there that let's jump on board?

HOWARD: Well, I don't believe they will. Because I don't think anybody says -

MARTIN: Do you believe in the principle or just the votes?

HOWARD: I believe - 1 believe in principles and I have put forward polities, even in this election campaign, which opinion polls say the majority of Australians don't agree with.

I mean, my proposal to sell one third of Telstra -opinion polls say th at the majority of people don’t agree with that. I mean, at least I'm being honest.

He went into the last election saying he wouldn't sell the Commonwealth Bank and as soon he got in, he got rid of it.

MARTIN: I'll come to that. Let's stay with Medicare, then, for a moment.

I mean, you've come out, the other day, in Western Australia saying after you announced the five hundred million dollar program and you said, 'this is a good thing'. If it's such a good thing why didn't you do it thirteen years ago?

KEATING: Because we're building on the rock of Medicare. The principle - the principle characteristic of Medicare is universality of access for everyone in the country to a public hospital.

But the Labor Party believes we are all members of the Australian family and th at the

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health of any one of us is as important to all of us, whether we're a billionaire or whether or not we're on low incomes.

And th at the principle of access to public hospitals, and th at eighty five percent rebate is the rock upon which it's built.

What we've done, now, Ray, is extend it beyond medical services into orthodontics, into dentistry, into chiropractics, into physiotherapy, and it's not a tax rebate, as Mr Howard says, it's a cash rebate over the counter at a Medicare office.

Mr Howard's tax rebate proposal would help twenty percent of families. Our proposals help eighty percent of families and a tax rebate goes only to a taxpayer. There are plenty of people looking after children who are not taxpayers, and you get it only at the end of the year.

So, there's a very great difference. But let me just make this point about Medicare. Mr Howard said: Oh, he made some criticism ten years ago. This is what he said - 'Medicare is a total disaster. It's a national disgrace.'

These are his quotes.

Ί will rip it apart. I will effectively dismantle it. Bulk billing is an absolute rort.'

You'd hardly call these mild criticisms. Three years ago, not ten years ago, at the last election he put his hand up for John Hewson to take thirteen million Australians out of bulk billing. To cut one point three billion out of public hospitals and to reduce the Medicare rebate to seventy five per cent.

And when I told him th at three years ago, he wanted to kill Medicare off, he said, 'oh, I wasn't to kill it. I was only going to change it'. And that's what I've said, he didn't want to kill it, he only wanted to make it dead.

That is, one of the key things in Medicare is bulk billing. One of the key things is that eighty five per cent rebate and access to a decent public hospital system.

Medicare also has a private hospital component. We give an eighty five percent rebate for all medical procedures in a private hospital. But we don't pay the accommodation. But in our policy, Ray, we're giving people a genuine choice.

They can buy these services over the counter with a doctor or a physiotherapist and go back to Medicare or they can spend some of the money on their private health, if they wish, but we are not forcing them.

What John's about is forcing people into a two tier health system. The rich go and play the system for the wealthy and a poorly resourced one for everybody else.

HOWARD: Can we just -

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MARTIN: Quick word.

HOWARD: End the discussion here and make it very, very d e a r th at Medicare stays under the Coalition, so does bulk billing -KEATING: Sure!

HOWARD: - so does community rating but we will build on th at by giving all families, all people, an opportunity to take out private health insurance and we will give them, we will give them through the tax system - and also Paul, you'll be sorry to hear, through the Medicare office as well - a rebate to defray the cost of -KEATING: You're copying our polities.

(Talking over each other)

HOWARD: I will send you a signed copy of the policy tomorrow with great pleasure.

MARTIN: What's the Budget figure on that? Can you give us tonight the figure of th at what's going to cost.

HOWARD: Around $500 million.

MARTIN: So about the same as -

HOWARD: Yes and it will be worth about $450 for a family with children, th at will be the value of the rebate and 250 for a couple and $125 for a single. Under the Keating policy couples without children and singles don't get any help.

MARTIN: Can you understand th at someone watching tonight would say, hang on, th at sounds like Bib and Bub on this one? That when it comes to -KEATING: Oh. It's not Bib and Bub.

MARTIN: When it comes to money for roads in northern New South Wales, when it comes to ferries for Tasmania, when it comes to $500 million for health, they are saying the same thing.

HOWARD: Well there may be some areas where there are similarities -

MARTIN: Has he pinched your policy?

HOWARD: But, well in the end the Australian people will make a decision on the totality of both our policies. I mean there is one policy he won't pinch and that is our policy to reduce youth unemployment by getting small business going again because he won't the Government off the back of small business.

MARTIN: Let’s go to unemployment. This time last year, at the debate last year

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between John Hewson and Paul Keating, Mr Hewson ridiculed Paul Keating's promise th at he would add 500,000 extra jobs. On the latest figures it's 650,000. Are you prepared to congratulate him?

KEATING: 713,000. 713,000.

HOWARD: Well I acknowledge the figures. Well I acknowledge, will you also acknowledge -KEATING: Can I just say -

HOWARD: I was asked a question. Would you mind not interrupting? Thank you. Thank you very much.

That I acknowledge the figure, of course I do, but also you have to acknowledge th at we have an unemployment rate now of 8.6 per cent. We have a youth unemployment rate of what, between twenty seven and thirty per cent. That is not a joke.

You've been in power now for thirteen years. Bar six months. You have either been Treasurer or Prime Minister of this country for the last thirteen years and you cannot by smug off-the-cuff remarks or anything else, avoid your personal responsibility for the fact th at so many young Australians are out of work and you do not have a plan, a credible plan in this election campaign, to do anything about youth unemployment.

The only way you can seriously reduce youth unemployment in this country, the only way, is to get small business going again because only small business has the capacity to generate the jobs.

There is no point in recycling people year after year through training programs unless at the end of the process there are jobs for those young people to take up and unless you can develop the plan Paul, to get small business going again, and it includes sacrificing things like this stupid unfair dismissal law, you haven't got a snowflake in hell's chance of reducing youth unemployment.

KEATING: Come on John.

HOWARD: And it's not a joking matter, it's the most serious social issue in this election campaign. You've been there thirteen years.

KEATING: Ray, John said he acknowledged the 713,000. We had a target of 500,000. We were ridiculed for it. We are now at 713,00. 3.3 per cent employment growth every year, ten times the pace of western Europe, three times the pace every year on average under the Coalition government.

MARTIN: But there are still 777,000 people out of work -KEATING: I know.

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MARTIN: That's the official figure.

KEATING: I know but it's not good enough simply for John to say he acknowledges it when he blaggards the Government up hill and down dale every week on unemployment.

Our record on employment growth has been as strong as it's ever been in Australia. And can I just say, on youth unemployment, on youth unemployment, when I introduced Working Nation, when I said we wouldn't leave the unemployed behind, the long term unemployed or young people behind, his predecessor in office said it was a waste of money. That is Mr Downer, when he was speaking for the Opposition.

Now Ray can I just say th at this -

MARTIN: Did you apologise for those young people you told to go, get a job?

KEATING: No I didn't, it was a, I didn't say 'go, get a job.' Someone was -HOWARD: You didn't? Someone was putting words in your mouth -KEATING: No,no. Get the context right. There were 158,000 fifteen to nineteen year olds out of work when you were last in office John. This year there's 88,000, forty per cent less. And let me also tell you, when you were in office three young people out of ten completed secondary school. This year just under eight out of ten complete secondary school under a Labor Government.

In other words, we care about people fifteen to nineteen. We regard this a period of vocational preparation and we want them in school and structured training, but for those who are not in school and structured training and of course, in your day seven out of ten weren't in school, they left at fifteen years of age, but those who are not in school

and structured training, and are out there in the labour market; we are giving them case management and a job subsidy and we try and get them back into school and back into structured training.

And there's 88,000 of them, 88,000, which is eight per cent of the group of fifteen to nineteen year olds; not thirty per cent, eight per cent. Young people looking for work in the group fifteen to nineteen, that's 88,000, is eight per cent of the total of the group of fifteen to nineteen year olds.

HOWARD: Well don't try and define the youth unemployment problem out of existence by statistical manipulation. Don't take my word for -KEATING: There’s 88,000.

HOWARD: Can I just rely on, can I just rely on the words of Robert Fitzgerald, the former head of the St Vincent de Paul Society, now the head of ACOSS, when you last ran th at eight per cent number, he said th at the cruellest thing th at people can do with the youth unemployment problem is to manipulate figures -

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KEATING: I'm not manipulating anything.

HOWARD: And pretend it doesn't look that, the real figure is twenty seven to thirty per cent and you know it. Don't try and run this figure of eight per cent.

KEATING: John we've got 1.6 billion out there with Working Nation. We are now taking young people in Years Eleven and Twelve in school, we are starting to give them -MARTIN: It's still twenty six per cent, of young people out of work, isn't it?

KEATING: Of the group actually looking for work, but the point is this Ray, eight in ten young people are now in school where they should be, educating themselves. When John Howard was around it was three in ten.

Ray, the Liberal Party was quite happy to let our youth, the bulk of our young people, seven out of ten of them, walk out of school at fifteen years of age. This government has put a fortune into high completion rates in secondary schools and one of the great beneficiaries of course, young women who are now completing at such a rate -MARTIN: Paul you can both talk about this but Australians out there know that around their neighbourhoods they see the crime going up. They see violence going up amongst young people.

KEATING: Sure, sure.

MARTIN: Your own Health Department issued a report yesterday saying that the incidence of heroin amongst young Australians, despite the hundred million drug campaign, has risen seventy five per cent. These are the things th at don't make, you can't make words about. These are the things th at are actually breaking our society


KEATING: Of course it is Ray, and when a government focuses a massive dosely- targeted package like Working Nation at the problem, and we now have forty per cent fewer young people looking for work than there was a decade ago, it ill behoves the

Liberal Party to say it was a waste of money.

HOWARD: Paul, you have been there thirteen years and you still have this huge youth unemployment problem. You've talked for two or three minutes about programs. You haven't addressed any words at all to what you are going to do to help small business generate the jobs. It's no good having the training programs -

MARTIN: - these young people. Could you give them jobs?

HOWARD: Well I tell you what, I can do a lot better than he's done.

MARTIN: That's easy to say when you're in Opposition, isn't it?

HOWARD: But I've got a plan.

KEATING: You didn't last time.

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HOWARD: I've got a plan to get small business going again. I mean small business is the great hope of the side as far as job generation is concerned. I mean we've got to get rid of the stupid unfair dismissal law we have at the moment.

Every small business man and woman I talk to around Australia, they all complain about that. They don't mind a fair law.

MARTIN: How many jobs will th at create John?

HOWARD: I think that would create a lot of jobs.

MARTIN: But we're in, someone sitting at home watching us tonight says, Ί haven't had a job for two years. All they're doing is giving me words'.

HOWARD: No, he's not giving people words to say th at if you have a law th at actually intimidates small employers out of taking on more staff because they can't afford to pay the out of court settlements -MARTIN: 88,000 out of a job, Paul Keating says.

HOWARD: - if they have an argument with somebody who's not performing well. We are committed to reducing the red tape that small business has to grapple with by fifty per cent in our first term.

I've already committed a Coalition government to reduce the provisional tax uplift factor to the tune of $ 180 million a year. We have policies of th at kind and our industrial relations policy is tailor-made to provide the right climate of flexibility within the workplace for small business.

I mean it is only by getting the government off the back of small business ... you will never hear th at from the present government because they have no sensitivity -(Talking over each other)

- no don't interrupt. They don't have any understanding th at the average small business operator in this country doesn’t have the resources to handle much of the paperwork th at is thrust down their throat by this government and they have added to it in the thirteen years of their being in office.

MARTIN: Let’s come to your industrial relations policy. I mean quite clearly it's one of the key issues for voters in Australia. Is there going to be a showdown with the unions on March the third? That's the image.

HOWARD: I don't believe so. I don’t believe so.

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MARTIN: Are you sure?

HOWARD: I am. I am. Look Ray, it's, it's part of in a sense, the game plan. I mean the unions and the Labor Party, they're all part of the one big family. I mean Gary Gray, your National Secretary, told us th at a few weeks ago.

Gary said 'what you've got to understand is this great historic link between the Labor Party and the trade union movement and -KEATING: The story is John -HOWARD: - and you will go through, you will go through, the unions will go through the business of saying 'oh you know, if Howard gets elected you know, the world will come to an end.'

I can remember th at in New South Wales the union movement said if Greiner got elected the world would come to an end and the fact is th at if we win the election, they, the leaders of the union movement, they are Australians before anything else, and I

respect that fact, they will respect the mandate of the Australian people.

We won't agree on everything. They won't be part of our government but I do not believe th at there will be confrontation because at heart most of them are -MARTIN: The Maritime Workers Union are warning th at in fact there will be strife on the waterfront. So there are hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent by some unions' leaflet and campaign against you.

They are obviously worried about you.

HOWARD: Well the Maritime Unions pushed this bloke around. I mean the Maritime Union -

KEATING: What about I get a say at some point here Ray?

HOWARD: - hang on, I'm answering the question.

KEATING: You've been going for five minutes at this point.

HOWARD: The Maritime Union told him th at he couldn't privatise ANL. I mean it's not only us th at the Maritime Union's had a row with. I mean he just lost complete control of the industrial scene a few months ago over the CRA dispute. I mean you even had your erstwhile mate Bob Hawke take it out of your hands.

Let's not talk about difficulty with the unions -KEATING: Do I get a five minute of reply?

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MARTIN: You've had a fair go.

HOWARD: You've had a very fair go. The fact of the m atter is the union leaders in this country by and large are good Australians -KEATING: Are you going to talk right through this?

HOWARD: They are good Australians and they are not going to, in my view, defy the mandate, democratic mandate given to a government by the Australian people.

KEATING: What John Howard has in mind is this, he won't, having said that industrial relations is the last frontier of change, of all the things of his political life that he has an absolute commitment to is radical labour m arket reform, he's now trying to pretend he's some sort of labour leader, he's the worker's friend.

What he has in mind is this: no more collective bargaining. Every new entrant to the workforce, every person who changes a job within a three year Parliament, that's forty per cent of the whole workforce, will have an individual contract. They will not be able

to negotiate collectively. There will be no union allowed to be involved and there will be no Arbitration Commissioner make sure it's fair.

He said he would stab the Arbitration Commission in the stomach, to use his own expression. The Arbitration Commission goes, as a consequence the wages of working Australians will be cut. They'll have no recourse but to take the contract or not get the job and he's been trying to pretend there's some sort of rights.

He's been saying, 'we said, well listen John, why don't you adopt the no-disadvantage test and let the Arbitration Commission look at it?' He says, 'I'll have a no disadvantage test, not th e no-disadvantage test', one he's dreamed up and no Arbitration Commission.

Now Ray what all this means is within one Parliam ent forty per cent of people would be essentially on an individual contract under the master and servant provisions of the nineteenth century common law.

And they would have no one to support them but their local solicitor, no help from their unions and no help from their other employees. And as a consequence in a two, within six years, the life of two Parliaments, basically you'd see massive cuts in real wages in Australia.

See, John Howard talks about families. He says he's for families but he's not for family support. The thing th at matters most to Australian families is their wages, the income. He's opposed every wage increase, bar two, since 1978, not a bad record. Every wage increase, bar two, since 1978 and now he wants to push people to the mercy of employers onto individual contracts.

He wants to do exactly what Jeff Kennett said he wouldn't do and did, what Richard Court said he wouldn't do and did and now what Mr Howard's saying he wouldn't do

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and will do, obviously will do.

MARTIN: So you're -HOWARD: No, no I really, let's just tick them off one by one. I am not going to get rid of -

KEATING: It's a scam, it's a terrible scam John.

HOWARD: I am not going to get rid of the Industrial Relations Commission. Under my policy nobody, I repeat nobody, can be forced out of an Award, forced out of an Award.

Under my policy there is an absolute guarantee that anybody who goes into a workplace contract has the benefit of the Award conditions. That is an absolute guarantee.

You talk about Richard Court. Do you know that real wages in Western Australia over the last twelve months have risen faster than in any of the Labor governed states?

What you have just said over the last couple of minutes is a complete distortion of our industrial relations policy.

KEATING: It's the complete truth.

HOWARD: What I stand for is an industrial relations system where people have a choice.

If they want the help of a union, they can have it. If they want to negotiate on their own, they can. If they want the help of somebody other than a union official, they can.

I am going to get rid of compulsory unionism because I don’t believe Australians should be forced to join any organisation against their will. I have never stood for lower wages. I do not believe the path to higher productivity in this country is through cutting people's wages. You don't bring people on by threatening to cut their wages. You bring people on by offering them more.

What I stand for is better pay for better work. I stand for an industrial relations system where people have a full range of choice. I do not stand for an industrial relations system th at allows people to be exploited but I certainly stand for an industrial relations system where people have a free choice.

MARTIN: Do you want to stab the Industrial Relations Commission in the stomach?

HOWARD: Well he stabbed it in the back. I made -

MARTIN: So you want to balance it up, do you?

HOWARD: No, no, no. I made the comment as he knows, I made th at in the context of his rejection in April 1991 of a decision of the Industrial Relations Commission, when you and Bill Kelty pulled the carpet under the feet of the Industrial Relations

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Commission and I said you ought to at least have the guts to stab it in the stomach rather than the back -KEATING: You know that's not what you said, that's not what you said -HOWARD: And it's typical of you th at you will take a bloke's comments right out of context -KEATING: Well go and read it. Let anyone read it.

HOWARD: Your problem is th at I remember the context in which those remarks were made and you made -KEATING: Ray, can I pick up some of these points?

HOWARD: - and you know and your embarrassed response indicates it.

KEATING: John Howard said, you see he has these tricky words like 'no one will be forced off an award' and you say 'well th at sounds alright'. What happens to all the young people who take a job for the first time -HOWARD: They have to be offered at least Award conditions.

KEATING: The hundreds of -HOWARD: They have to be offered it.

KEATING: Well just hang on, don't interrupt either John thanks. The ones who leave school, the most vulnerable. Someone eighteen years of age or nineteen years of age, leaving school taking work for the first time, women rejoining the workforce, migrants, they will have to take an individual contract or they don't get the job.

And the other thing he glosses over is th at 1.7 million Australian either take a job for the first time or change jobs. In fact, within five years sixty per cent of people will change jobs. The moment they do, the Award is gone.

In other words when he says he's not forcing them off the Award, he just has to wait until the young people start looking for work or women rejoin the workforce or someone changes job, and then snappo! He's in there and away goes the Award, away goes the Award protection.

The, he said also he'll keep the Arbitration Commission but he won't let it look at the contracts. Whether he keeps it is immaterial. He will not let it do as it does now, vet every individual contract. He's got a recipe the same as Richard Court and the same as, that's why they say in Western Australia, don't be Court twice.

HOWARD: Can I just answer that? Under our policy, anybody entering the workplace for the first time, if they go into a contract, they have got to be offered the value of the

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Award under th a t contract. What you have just said, you know is a complete distortion of our policy -KEATING: That's nonsense. That is a complete nonsense.

HOWARD: Ray, under our policy anybody changing jobs, if they go -

KEATING: Well who enforces it?

HOWARD: Now, let me finish. If they go into a contract, they have to be offered under that contract the value of the Award. The value of the Award is the starting point. I mean th at is the explicit guarantee th at we have given in our policy.

MARTIN: Who is the policeman though John, in th at case? Who polices it? Who arbitrates on this particular -

HOWARD: Well if a person stays under an Award, the situation continues as it does now. If a person goes into a workplace agreement, they must be paid at least the value of the Award and if -KEATING: Now you are dodging it. Who polices it?

HOWARD: Can I just, this is a very important question and I'll answer it very carefully without interruption.

If they feel they have a grievance or a complaint, we have established a new body called the Employment Advocate and a person can go to th at Employment Advocate without any expense if th at person has a grievance.

The Employment Advocate will get in touch with the employer and say 'look, you have underpaid this person. If you don't pay it, we'll chase you for it'. We'll get it and we'll pay it to the person in question and all of th at can happen without any expense, no expense at all to the individual worker.

Now there is absolute protection. What Paul has said -

KEATING: There is no protection.

HOWARD: - about people being is a complete dishonest distortion of our policy.

MARTIN: We m ust move on.

KEATING: One word on the Advocate. The Advocate has no statutory power. Can you imagine an eighteen year old person, an eighteen year old, going to an employer and the employer says 'here's an individual contract' and then the eighteen year old goes to some office called the Advocate who has no statutory powers, no power to intervene, what chance -

Page 25

HOWARD: The Advocate will have all the statutory power in the world.

KEATING: - what chance would th at young person have -

(Talk over each other)

MARTIN: We m ust move on because -HOWARD: - completely deliberately misrepresenting it and you know it. We are not going to leave young kids exposed to th at kind of -KEATING: You're going to see them cut to pieces, cut to pieces.

MARTIN: Let's move on. Anybody watching tonight has had the two prospective Prime Ministers saying complete opposite and swearing th at they both tell the truth, so let's leave it at th at for the moment.

Paul Keating, the last election. You pulled off what you called a master stroke. You said the ALP would not oppose th at GST if John Hewson was elected Prime Minister. You said basically you laid it on the line.

Why don't you do the same thing with Telstra? Why don't you come here and say if this government is elected th at you will support the Telstra sell off and give the Australians a choice?

KEATING: John Hewson is now looking rather wholesome and old-fashioned I must say, compared to John Howard, because he took the view th a t if you want support you go and get a mandate and he laid out Fightback in 1991 and he took it to an election in 1993.

He put his document out. He said 'this is what I believe in. This is, the core of it is the Goods and Services Tax. These are all the funding commitments' and he put it into the marketplace, exactly the same thing as Mr Gingrich did with the Contract with America.

MARTIN: But with Telstra John Howard already said th at he want to sell off, you know the details of that. You don't need any more information.

KEATING: The thing is this. There are many issues here. He has not laid out his proposal. He has not, look here we are twenty days, twenty days before an election and we don't have his funding, we don't have a lot of the major policies. He's now saying he's doing health tomorrow. The fact is this, Ray, there -

MARTIN: But Telstra, let's stay on th at subject, not go back. You know the details on that.

KEATING: On Telstra ... when I say I know the details, what details? I mean, this is something twenty times the size of Qantas. Kim Beazley was flat out getting Qantas

Page 26

sold at a decent price for the Commonwealth. And who's going to be protecting the public purse with the sale of Telstra, twenty times its size? Bronwyn Bishop!

Now, where would the power go? Would it be a joint stock company? Are there articles of Association. Does the Commonwealth have any role?

Because if the Commonwealth does not have any role there will be timed local calls across the country. If it's a business they will run it as a business. When farms get connected it will cost four or five thousand sometimes to get a line out to them and not the subsidised prices now.

These are all the issues why Labor Senators will have a mandate to preserve Telstra in public ownership. The very same point that's been made by the Democrats.

MARTIN: Well, if it's such a worry. Why don't you say - which is what I asked you a moment ago - why don't you say: 'Okay. If you vote for the Liberals you're going get Telstra. We're going to sell Telstra.' Why don't you say that?

KEATING: No. Because they are not entitled to just drop, just before an election, a half- baked proposal for the sale of Telstra and then, basically, go and grab the money and use it on election commitments.

HOWARD: Well, can I just say something ... well to start with -

KEATING: - tactic for an environment policy.

HOWARD: Can I just say th at we're not selling off all of Telstra. We’re selling a third. And there's a difference between Paul -MARTIN: Why sell a third? This is very -

HOWARD: Well, well no, no because, because we believe th at the right policy mix is to sell a third and to retain as we have, two thirds -MARTIN: It's just about just getting cash in hand though, is it John?

HOWARD: No, we're retaining two-thirds government ownership, and there can't be more than twelve percent foreign ownership under our policy.

And there's one big difference between Paul and me on this, is th at I'm telling the Australian public before the election what I'm going to do on Telstra. Everyone knows th at before the last election he put his hand on his heart and he said: Ί won't sell the Commonwealth Bank'.

KEATING: I said I won't sell Telstra. It's not sold.

HOWARD: You put your hand on your heart and you said you wouldn't sell Qantas. You put your hand on your heart -

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KEATING: No I didn’t.

HOWARD: - and you said you wouldn't sell Australian Airlines. And every last one of them you sold. And I know you'll do, if you get back into office -KEATING: Telstra is not sold.

HOWARD: - you'll do the same thing. I mean, Graham Richardson told us you wanted to sell the lot, five years ago. Remember?

KEATING: That's untrue.

HOWARD: Remember?

KEATING: Untrue.


KEATING: Absolutely, at the last election -HOWARD: You told Kerry O'Brien 12 months ago it didn't m atter Telstra wasn't in Government hands.

KEATING: John. At the last election I was asked, would we sell Telstra in th at term. I said 'no' and it's not sold. It's not sold. You -HOWARD: Like the Commonwealth Bank.

KEATING: You had it as an environment policy. You said the environment's important but it's only important to the extent th at we can force senators to pass the sale of Telstra. In other words, the environment wasn't a policy, it was just a tactic to sell Telstra.

And you know as I know, once you have private owners in there for a third of it, then the fiduciary responsibility of those directors are such th at the Commonwealth role goes back simply to a private company, to a public company, and all the protections -HOWARD: You wanted to break it up didn't you?

KEATING: - and all the protections for timed calls, out the window. All the spaghetti bowl of subsidies, out the window -MARTIN: Alright.

KEATING: That's the reality of Telstra.

HOWARD: That's not been the experience -

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MARTIN: Let’s -HOWARD: - Ray on th at point, which is quite important -

MARTIN: Well let's move along. Okay, let's move along -HOWARD: Yeah, but the experience with telcos overseas is th at even those th at have been a hundred percent privately owned you can retain the price caps, and I am guaranteeing -MARTIN: Are you sure you've got the National Party behind you on this?

HOWARD: I am guaranteeing *

MARTIN: Have you got the National Party behind you on this?

HOWARD: I beg your pardon?

MARTIN: Do you have the National Party behind you on this?

HOWARD: Absolutely!

MARTIN: Queensland Nationals?

HOWARD: Absolutely and we even -

MARTIN: Bob Katter?

HOWARD: We have the National Farmers' Federation behind us, which is the peak farmer organisation. They think our policy on Telstra is terrific. Now I also -MARTIN: You've got till tomorrow though for the Australian Conservation Foundation. You've got to either get rid of th at link or else lose them.

HOWARD: Well, well, the link remains.

MARTIN: So you're not changing?

HOWARD: No, the link does remain, and can I make it clear th at I think Australians who care about the environment will expect the new Parliament, if we are the government, to give a greater priority to our environmental package, which is the most comprehensive environmental package any government has produced -MARTIN: But, John, you know -HOWARD: - in fifty years.

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MARTIN: - th at he's against it and his party is against it. The Greens are against it. The Democrats are against it. Perhaps the Conservation Foundation tomorrow. If you don't get th at through, if you become Government, you don't have an environmental policy, do you?

HOWARD: I believe I'll get it through.

MARTIN: But you don't have an environmental policy if you don't get it through.

KEATING: On what basis?

HOWARD: Ray, I have no doubt th at if we win the election, and if we don't get control of the Senate, I have no doubt at all th at when it comes to a choice between the best environmental package in fifty years or an ideological commitment to a one hundred percent government ownership of Telstra, most people who care about the environment will w ant our environmental policy.

MARTIN: But, I mean, obviously, there's no point having a fantastic environmental policy if you can’t pay for it.

HOWARD: But, Ray, I am sure in the end -KEATING: Oh, come on.

HOWARD: I'm sure we will get through the Senate.

MARTIN: We're down to the last couple of minutes and I'd like to -

KEATING: Ray, can I just make this point -

MARTIN: Let's move on.

KEATING: If John Howard has been Prime Minister there would have been no Daintree, there would have been no Gordon Below Franklin, there would have been no Shelbourne Bay, there would have been no Shoalwater Bay, there would have been no Jervis Bay, there’d be no six million hectares of trees put away, there would be none of the great wilderness declaration because he's opposed the external affairs power.

The notion th at he is a bom again green -MARTIN: We won't have any ... We'll have no time, Paul, if I don't stop you here.

Let me stay in North Queensland for a moment. We just need a couple of topics I want to get on to.

The National Party, again. Bob Burgess who is running for Leichhardt up there, a member for the National Party, called our naturalisation ceremony a 'de-wogging ceremony. '

Page 30

He, also, said he thought ethnic groups have too much power in Australia. He called for homosexuals to stop calling themselves 'gay'. Will you kick him out? The way he kicked out Graham Campbell?

HOWARD: He's not in my party. He's in the National -

MARTIN: He's in the Coalition, though.

HOWARD: He's in the National Party. But from time to time you have some candidates saying silly things.

KEATING: Why don't you throw him out, John, like?

HOWARD: And anyway there is a Liberal candidate in Leichhardt and I reckon he'll win the seat. So I think it's an academic question.

KEATING: Why don’t you kick out like I did with Campbell? We won't cop racism. We will not cop it. But you're prepared to be soft about it because this fellow -HOWARD: I didn't say I was soft about anything.

KEATING: This fellow told Fischer - he said Ί won't use it in public because the newspapers get onto me but I'll continue to use in private.'

You should have said to Tim Fischer 'outsky', out he goes. But instead of th at he's still there.

MARTIN: Can I ask you on th at one - let's move on. Women at the Hobart Conference, the National Conference of the ABC, you pushed - you talked a lot about - the party talked about the number of candidates increasing to thirty five percent.

The safe seats, if you look at your candidates this time, have all gone to men. So, when you lose - Wendy Fatin goes, it goes to a man. Ros Kelly goes. Last time it went to a man. Jeanette McHugh - tell me where are these women you were going to promote.

KEATING: Our commitment is laid down there is our party decisions, Ray, and -MARTIN: But where are the women in the safe seats, Paul?

KEATING: Well, it's a m atter of whether they are in the Parliament, I think That's the important thing and there are women in safe seats but the fact is -HOWARD: Not many.

KEATING: The fact is in the Parliament -MARTIN: But Gareth Evans shifts across he gets a safe, he gets a seat.

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KEATING: But the key thing is -

MARTIN: Where are the women?

KEATING: The key thing is, is whether the Government has responded to the needs of Australian women. That's the key thing. And whether it's the Sex Discrimination Act now, or a quarter of a million child care places, or the home child care allowance, or the

generalised child care rebate, or the parenting allowance. Three things th at we've just - and the maternity allowance - four things we've just put in, in the last three years -MARTIN: But don't put them in Parliament?

KEATING: Absolutely. Ray -MARTIN: Don't put them in Parliament.

KEATING: Ray, let's make this clear. When more women are in the Australian Parliament, when half the population is better represented, we'll be all stronger. Much stronger.

MARTIN: All right. Quickly. Have you got Bronwyn Bishop in a cupboard somewhere? Where is she in the campaign?

HOWARD: She's done a good job.

MARTIN: We haven't seen her. She hasn't -HOWARD: Well, there’s a natural -MARTIN: You're not worried?

HOWARD: Ray, no, no, certainly not. I think she's doing a very good job.

MARTIN: Can I ask you - the pork barrel spending? Every newspaper, every day, has a list of the latest promise th at you make, and the promise you make.

Spending. I mean, how many Tassie ferries can we actually have? How many railways to Darwin can we actually have? How many movie houses can we have - we've now got a new one - production houses and so on.

Can you understand why people are cynical about these promise?

KEATING: Well, Ray, if they were unfunded, yes. But, as I said at the beginning of this program, of the two of us, I'm the only one standing here with funded commitments. As always.

At each election the Labor Party funds its commitments. In other words we do the

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We think it's important for Tasmanians to be able to get to the mainland at a reasonable price and quickly. We think its important th at the Pacific Highway is rebuilt and that the hundreds of deaths we see are diminished by a decent road.

It's important, for instance, Ray, th at - you mention films, - th at this country builds on its great strength as an English language country -MARTIN: Think we need three studios. We've got one at the Gold Coast, and Sydney, and now Melbourne.

KEATING: Well, I don't think the Americans are worrying about how many studios we've got and why should we?

HOWARD: Could I just say on the question of funding. I mean we will be providing the details of our costings next Thursday -KEATING: Well, why didn't you do it tonight?

HOWARD: - our funding, our promises to date are a lot less lavish than his. We have, after all, in relation to the environment, explained where our most expensive commitment is going to be funded.

And the key issue about funding is whether we can rely on the forward estimates of next year's budget and you have spent this whole debate avoiding th at fundamental question.

KEATING: It's all written, it's all written down -

HOWARD: Why won't you let the head of the Treasury -

KEATING: - the forward estimates are all there, John.

HOWARD: - tell us the state of the books. And until you do th at you can't be taken seriously.

KEATING: Ray, could I say -MARTIN: Can I ask you, is this ... would you agree, would you both agree, this is the last hurrah for one of you. Whoever loses this is out of politics? John? Are you out of politics if you lose?

HOWARD: Oh, look I think it's fair of me to say I won't be Leader of the Opposition after the next election.

KEATING: And ditto for me.

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MARTIN: And Paul, are you out of politics if you lose this one?

KEATING: Well let’s say I wouldn't be leader of the Labor Party either.

MARTIN: Alright, well we've g ot... I think we're down to the last four minutes or so and we have promised to give each of you a minute and a half to tell why ... I guess in this one why you shouldn't be kicked out. Paul?

KEATING: Well, Ray. Australia is now a modern industrial country. It's grown at twice the pace th at it grew under the coalition. It's been growing... we've got a strong economy growing at twice the western world average. We've got low inflation, we've got huge employment growth.

We've got a lot of innovation in our products. We've got a big educ... a very strong education and tertiary education system. We're exporting our heads off and we're making the leap into Asia.

The risk in this election, I think, for Australia is that the fire will go out. The crucible that th at Cabinet has provided to generate this country to take its place in the world as a modern industrial country will go.

If people believe they could go three years to the Opposition, to a party trying to copy-cat the government, to adopt the government's policies and think they can go back, I assure them th at the fire will go out.

What's kept Australia changing in this decade is a government prepared to take the hard decisions and to make a change.

MARTIN: Alright -KEATING: The other thing is -MARTIN: You're almost out of time -KEATING: - a team to what? Who is the alternative team. John Howard, Tim Fischer, Mr Costello, and Mr Downer. You compare th at to Mr Beazley and Mr Evans and Mr Willis -MARTIN: Okay, we’ve got the point. John, your last word.

HOWARD: Well, Ray, the Liberal Party should be elected because I think this present Government is now been in power for thirteen years and it's developed all the signs of arrogance, of being out of touch, of taking people for granted and it can't boast of a great record.

I mean, when you have almost thirty percent of young people out of work, when you, in 1995, had the worst current account deficit in the western world, including Mexico, when you owe the rest of the world a hundred and eighty thousand million dollars,

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when you have widening gaps between rich and poor, when you have growing evidence of social division, you can't really claim to have set the place afire and really led it effectively.

I mean, my opponent has this idea th at you can separate leadership from what the leader does with his or her responsibility. You judge a leader by what happens during his leadership. And this man's leadership has produced all of those things.

By contrast, we do have a plan. We do have a plan to do something about reducing youth unemployment, by getting small business going again. But, importantly, one big difference is th at we will lead a government whose word can be trusted.

I won't be making any L- A- W Law tax commitments to be repudiated immediately I get into office and for good measure to rub the noses -MARTIN: Okay.

HOWARD: - of people with additional taxes -MARTIN: We must finish there. In a word, you may not like this bloke, but do you respect him, in a word.

HOWARD: I don't -MARTIN: In a word.

HOWARD: In a word, I don't think he's been a good Prime Minister.

KEATING: He really likes me Ray. He really does Ray.

HOWARD: I don't have anything against him as an individual -

MARTIN: Alright -HOWARD: - but I think he's been a very poor Prime Minister.

MARTIN: Alright. We'll leave it there. Paul Keating we thank you for your time. John Howard we thank you for your time. We might talk about foreign debt and things like th at the next time round. Would you be prepared to come next time?

KEATING: If my friend here will be in it?

HOWARD: Oh, I'm always in it, mate.

KEATING: If it's this format, Ray, I'll be in it.

HOWARD: Yeah. I'm always in it, mate. I'm always in it.

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MARTIN: So you're quite agreeable to this format?

HOWARD: I am always in it, mate.

MARTIN: Alright. John, we thank you. Paul, we thank you. And we thank you Australia, very much indeed. Good night, and good luck.

McMULLEN: Well, there you have it. Now the big question. Who won? Our swinging voters have been scoring the leaders with monitors for the last hour. Ladies and gentlemen, if you believe Paul Keating won, turn your dial all the way to the left. If John Howard won, turn your dial all the way to the right.

The verdict and Paul Lyneham's analysis after the break.


McMULLEN: In a moment our studio audience's verdict on the debate, but first we're going to look at some of the vital moments of the debate when the worm really turned. Certainly Paul Keating seemed to score best when he attacked John Howard for not

spelling out his policies.

KEATING: John's been elected, now, Leader of the Liberal Party for thirteen months. We're now twenty days away from the election. He has no policy on health out there. I ’m the only party leader going to an election with funded policies. He has no funding for his policies and he's not been prepared, today, to say they're here.

LYNEHAM: Well, this worked very well for Keating and it's one of the big themes he's been running through the campaign so far - the idea th at John Howard's a bit sneaky, he's not coming clean with the Australian people, th at there are secret plans afoot.

And he wants you, the voters, you the swinging voters to feel a sense of anxiety when you go into th a t ballot box and decide who you're going to pick. 'Am I taking a big step into the unknown'.

The interesting thing is, though, Jeff, of course, th at Howard still has three weeks to keep releasing policies. We've heard tonight health's coming very soon. The more he releases, the more steam comes out of th at as an issue.

McMULLEN: On health it seemed th at the voters here registered strong approval when John Howard argued th at he has a right to a change of heart on Medicare. They seemed to accept that.

HOWARD: When Medicare was first introduced I was critical of it and I won’t deny that but -KEATING: Critical! You -HOWARD: But over the years I've seen the Australian people grow to like it. It gives

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them security. What they are now worried about is the fact that they can't afford health - private health insurance.

LYNEHAM: This is one of John Howard's best moments. You notice how it kicked up again when he talked about private health insurance, but it seems as though our swinging voters thought they'd give him a fair go, they thought he was fair dinkum, he acknowledged that yes he'd had a different view in the past, now he'd changed his mind. It went up even higher when he got on to talk about the tax rebates th at were coming.

You could feel hip pocket... were your hip pocket nerves going? I suspect th at they were. It looks like, in terms of allegations of a secret plot against Medicare, John Howard passed the test. He's being taken at his word.

McMULLEN: The sharpest registration of the worm throughout the entire debate, and a warning to both candidates, was on the issue of unemployment.

And when John Howard argued th at the Government's record on unemployment was atrocious and that in fact the way to create jobs was to stimulate small business, the worm showed a real reaction.

HOWARD: The only way you can seriously reduce youth unemployment in this country, the only way, is to get small business going again because only small business has the capacity to generate the jobs.

There is no point in recycling people year after year through training programs unless at the end of the process there are jobs for those young people to take up.

LYNEHAM: Again, a good moment for John Howard. It shows the dangers of incumbency of course. Almost any government in this economic cycle, you would think, is probably going to have a problem with unemployment.

I think polling, private polling, suggests th at many voters think it's an international problem and they do wonder if anyone's really got any quick fix on it.

And don't forget too, in terms of the potency of it as an issue, Labor won last time with a million people unemployed. So, I think it's a bit like one of those motherhood things: we don't like the idea of unemployment, we don't like youth unemployment particularly, Howard scored fairly well. In the end I’m not sure th at was a killer moment, really.

McMULLEN: Of greatest concern perhaps is how did these uncommitted voters score the debate? And your results tracking through both arguments, you gave a victory to the Prime Minister, Paul Keating. Fifty one to Keating. Forty nine to John Howard.

Now, that's a victory, a close one. One has to ask: Is it enough of a victory for Paul Keating given the fact th at he trails in the polls. Is this the decisive debate win th at he was looking for.

LYNEHAM: Well, I don't think it was. I mean, yes, it will feed back into the morale of

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the Labor camp. The Prime Minister put in a very assured and relaxed and forceful performance tonight.

But there was no killer punch. I don't think that Howard came away from this tonight significantly down in his standing in the community. He was nervous. You noticed he was a bit breathless at the start. He warmed up well.

But he showed, surely, that he can go fifteen rounds with Keating. To the extent th at he did that, came out of it, basically, head-to-head, there's not much difference in that score. I don't think he's done himself any damage at all tonight. I don't think Keating's done himself an enormous amount of good. We're basically still back to what happens over the next three weeks.

McMULLEN: If you've made up your minds at home, you'll be interested to hear, perhaps, what some uncommitted voters have decided. And I'd like to ask you now. For those th at came in here without your mind made up, after seeing Paul Keating tonight, how many of you are now prepared to vote for Paul Keating's party?

Could I have a show of hands?

And, after listening to tonight’s debate, how many of you are persuaded to vote for John Howard's party?

So, from th at show of hands, again you'd say it's pretty even. It's as dose as their own score for the debate. I guess the crudal question now is with a couple of weeks of campaign to go, is there still time for those polls to change? Will this debate effect the closing weeks of the campaign?

LYNEHAM: Oh, the debate will effect it to the extent th at it will boost Labor morale on one hand. On the other hand Howard will have reinforced his consolidated his position. But still it's all out there, I think, from now. It's still all out there to be dedded over the next three weeks.

McMULLEN: Well, we do know from both candidates tonight th a t we will probably have another debate here at Channel Nine, a second candidates debate. We'll certainly be back to our normal 60 Minutes program next Sunday night. I'm Jeff McMullen. See you then.