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Address by the Leader of the Opposition the Hon John Howard MP opening of Kay Elson's campaign office electorate of Forde

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Fax: 24 Jun Ό1 04:58 J6 f

Leader of th 2J?ebruaiy U


Beenleigh, Queensland

Well, thank you very much. Thanks Kay, to my Parliamentary Colleagues, Robert Hill, David MacGibbon, Ian Macdonald, ladies and gentlemen.

It’s an enormous pleasure for me to be back in the electorate o f Forde and it’s a particular pleasure to share a platform at this official opening o f her Campaign Office, with Kay Bison who 1 believe will make a remarkably, representative, energetic and capable Member for the electorate o f Forde in the National Parliament alter the 2nd o f March.

O f course the election will be determined by what happens in seats like Forde all over Australia. Let me say to you that Fm not only here because o f the importance o f Forde as a marginal seat but because this part o f Queensland and this part o f Australia is a microcosm o f the failure o f Labor over the last 13 years. It brings together various groups that the Labor Party has deserted and it’s an opportunity, as I come to the end o f this very successful first week o f the election campaign, to say something to you about the major issues in the campaign. .........

When it was called last Saturday, and that seems a long time ago - 1 think it may be longer for others than perhaps for me - but when it was called back last Saturday the first observation I made was that Labor has now been in power for thirteen years and that is a long time in anybody’s language and all the signs of decay and arrogance. And we saw yesterday, with his astonishing comment about our relations with nations

in the Asian Pacific Region, “hubris”, it’s a perfect word for my Labor opponent. I mean these delusions of international grandeur, they appear to overtake people when perhaps there’s a perception that all else has failed. And all those signs o f arrogance, o f having been in power for too long, o f having lost contact with reality have emerged over the last thirteen years and it’s therefore not surprising that we’ve seem some rather erratic behaviour from the Prime Minister this week.

1 want to say to all o f you that although it has been a good start to the election campaign this is still going to be a very tough fight No Liberal anywhere in Australia should runaway with the idea that we haw anything other than a huge fight ahead o f us over the next four weeks. Because over the next four weeks the battle will be joined with great intensity and I predict now to all o f you that over the next week

we’re going to go into the scare phase o f the Labor Party’s campaign.

Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 Phone 277 4022 Fax 277 2055 COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY

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I know for a fact that they have organised to run some advertisements on television m the next few days dishonestly claiming that because o f our commitment to privatise one third o f Telstra there are going to be timed local calls. Now feat, o f course, is a Labor lie. Seven months ago I predicted that not being able to run on its record, not being able to run on leadership integrity the Labor Party would resort to a fear campaign and this is one o f the first instalments o f that fear campaign.

O f course it is a nonsense proposition. We have made it perfectly clear that we will legislate against any such occurrence. And I take the opportunity o f reminding you that despite the fact that the Telecoms in both Canada and New Zealand are in full, I repeat full private ownership, they are still complete, in fact there are free local calls for residential purposes in both o f those countries. And although the privatisation process o f British Telecom was commenced in 1984 which is twelve years ago and has been completed, the price caps that were put in place by legislation are still there, still working effectively. The real difference is that because o f the private sector exposure that company is operating, and all the other Telecoms, in a particularly effective fashion.

So, what we are about in that area as in so many areas is making judgments on the basis o f public interest But I warn all o f you that we’re going to get a barrage o f distortion and barrage of Labor lies about Liberal policies. He’ll run around the country between now and election time saying that we’re going to abolish Medicare

when he knows that is untrue.

What we’re going to do is we’re going to improve Australia’s health system by offering an incentive for people to take out private health insurance. That’s what we’re going to do and I ’m going to announce the details of that within a very short period of time but I’ve made it clear all through the year what our health policy is.

It’s keep Medicare, it’s keep bulk billing, it’s keep community rating, it’s to do something about the haemorrhage of people out o f private health insurance by offering an incentive for those people to remain in private health insurance. That is the policy, the only detail that remains is the precise extent and nature o f the incentive.

I just wanted to say to all o f you that it has been a good week for the Liberal Party but it’s not a week that should give us any sense o f complacency or self satisfaction or smugness. Modem election campaigns arc very volatile and the capacity o f either side o f politics to bring about a change in modem political campaigns is well understood It is understood by me, it is understood by all o f my colleagues ami there

is still a sizeable section o f the electorate which is yet to make up its mind. And our responsibility over the next four weeks is to drive home the failings o f Labor and to drive home fee alternatives that we are offering.


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I mean one o f the extraordinary things about Mr Keating’s campaign is that he opened '· ’ ■ ' - · »-on the theme o f leadership, I mean as i f leadership exists in a vacuum. He seems to have this extraordinary proposition that you can separate the Leader and leadership from what the Leader and leadership does to the people who are le d And when I hear him talking and when I hear his colleagues talking about leadership it’s as though it existed out there in a vacuum in outer space away from the reality o f evetyday life.

I said the other day in Melbourne, it rather reminds me o f a General who’s ju st been .

defeated and the army has taken horrendous losses and those who’ve survived, they’re all in captivity but he says don’t wony l display great leadership, I really stared him down as 1 handed over my sword in surrender and I think really that in a sense is what the Prime Minister is inviting us to accept and in some way leadership is something that operates in isolation from what the Leader has done, And the only way in which leadership in Australian politics can fairly be judged is to have a look at what the Leader has done. And under this Leader, who would have you believe that leadership

operates in isolation from what the Leader does, we have experienced a widening in the gap between rich and poor, we have experienced a huge rise in our foreign debt. We still have well over 8 per cent unemployed. We still have a level o f youth unemployment which is unacceptably high at a national level o f between 20 - 30 per cent and we still have the disgrace o f having experienced in 1995 the worst current account deficit in the Western World.

So, if that’s good leadership from Paul Keating I’d hate to contemplate what in his definition would be the results o f bad leadership.

Now, t don’t think that is an issue that the Australian people will accept - a definition o f Prime Ministers separate and apart from their own very commonsense understanding that you judge a person whether that person leads a political party, whether that person leads anything else, by what that person does with the authority

and the office o f Leader.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in declaring this office open, can I say again how impressed I am with Kay as a candidate. Few candidates o f the Liberal Party around Australia could have brought to their candidature a better understanding o f the importance o f communities. Few candidates could so clearly evince those fundamental values o f

family and community service and community commitment She brings to her role as the Liberal standard-bearer in the electorate ofForde a very, very impressive community background. She will be the greatest possible fighter for Fordo in the national Parliament. I believe that she will win the seat. I believe that she will win it convincingly.

Finally, can I say to all o f you that I have been immensely encouraged and enthused over the last week by the support and evident commitment o f body and spirit that so many grassroots members o f the Liberal Party have poured into this campaign. We carry with us an enormous responsibility because there are large numbers o f our


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fellow Australians who have invested their hopes, and the hopes o f their children, in a ’ 1 1 change o f government It's a long hard fight. We mustn’t let them down. For their sake and for the sake o f our country, work your insides o u t don’t be complacent, don’t imagine that because wc’vc had a few favourable opinion polls that the election is a cut and dried thing. It’s n o t it’s still going to be a vety tight race. It could still go wrong. I f we maintain the discipline and commitment o f the last week then the outcome that we all devoutly hope for, for the sake o f our country, can be achieved ! '

Thank you very much for your help and your support,