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Election 2004: campaign focuses on child care and sale of Telstra.

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This transcript has been prepared by a source external to the Department of the Parliamentary Library.


It may not have been checked against the broadcast or in any other way. Freedom from error, omissions or misunderstandings cannot be guaranteed.


For the purposes of quoting verbatim from a transcript, it is advisable to verify the transcript against the broadcast.





Tuesday 28 September 2004

Election 2004: campaign focuses on child care and sale of Telstra


MARK COLVIN: Mr Howard has been forced to try to clear up confusion about his c hild care policy today. 


It seems that, contrary to earlier reports, the big winners from the 30 per cent tax rebate will not be nannies. 


That's despite the suggestion from the Government itself that parents employing private nannies would be able to claim tens of thousands of dollars in rebates under its scheme.  


Mark Latham says the Government's policy is in chaos. 


Meanwhile, the Opposition leader has also been trying to hose down newspaper reports that a Labor candidate in Queensland is a terrorist sympathiser. 


In Canberra, Nick Grimm reports. 


NICK GRIMM: It's been a day when babies, nannies, terrorists, and even a serial killer have all played their part in the campaign. 


MARK LATHAM: And finally, it was raised with me this morning the story in The Courier Mail concerning Dr Ivan Milat, the Labor candidate for Fairfax… 


NICK GRIMM: Professor Ivan who? 


MARK LATHAM: I immediately… sorry…  


(laughter from media)  


… Dr Ivan Molloy, the Labor candidate for Fairfax… that's a funny coincidence, Ivan Milat was once one of my constituents in the seat of Werriwa. But no more, of course. 


NICK GRIMM: Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper today published a 21-year-old photograph of the Queensland academic turned political candidate taken while he was conducting research in the Philippines. 


The image shows Ivan Molloy holding a machine gun, belonging to, the newspaper claims, a group of Muslim extremists - the Moro Liberation Front. 


The report also suggests Professor Molloy is a terrorist sympathiser. 


IVAN MOLLOY: It's a total beat-up. It's a total distortion of the truth. 


NICK GRIMM: Ivan Molloy today opened fire on the newspaper itself, and wrote to the National Secretary of the Labor Party, Tim Gartrell, insisting that he's been made, quote, "A target of some hysterical witch hunt" to smear his name. 


IVAN MOLLOY: I mean, I'm a hard yard academic, I go out there and I do the hard yards, and I cop flak like this. You've got to go to these places, and you've got to put yourself in situations to get the truth… that's all I've ever stood for. 


I abhor terrorism. I've always opposed it. But I've had to research it to understand it so I can combat it. 


MARK LATHAM: He goes on to say that the photograph and the article in The Courier Mail is a misrepresentation, in that he was photographed in 1983 with Marcos supporters. That is - government supporters at the time - he wasn't and hasn't had any dealings with extremist Muslim organisations. So he has written to the National Secretary. This letter will be released outlining that fact that the story is mistaken. 


NICK GRIMM: Whatever the facts of the matter ... it was another unhelpful distraction for Mark Latham - from a candidate who just last week was fending off Coalition demands for his disendorsement, after he supported comments made by his wife - a state Labor politician - blaming the Bali bombings on the United States and the Howard Government. 


JOHN HOWARD: You know, it's not good enough. I mean, he has accused us of being responsible for Bali. On that count alone, he should have been sacked a few days ago. 


NICK GRIMM: But the Prime Minister was today also having to deal with the odd angry shot from one of the Coalition's own as well, with National Party MP Kay Hull threatening to cross the floor of parliament and vote with Labor if a Howard Government tries to sell the rest of Telstra.  


KAY HULL: Absolutely, I would never discount the possibility that I will vote on the other side of the house from my party in the sale of Telstra. But it would have to be a vote that actually changed the outcome. 


MARK LATHAM: Can I provide support to Kay Hull, the senior National Party member, who said that she'll cross the floor to oppose the full privatisation of Telstra. She said that on ABC Radio, and it's a sign that someone in a country seat knows that the services are inadequate. Now is not the time to be privatising Telstra. It shouldn't be privatised any time in the future. 


JOHN HOWARD: No, she's said that before. 


NICK GRIMM: And if Kay Hull was simply being consistent…. today the Coalition was trying to get its story straight on nannies, and its 30 per cent rebate on out-of-pocket child care expenses. 


Critics had said the scheme will unfairly reward wealthy parents able to afford private nannies to care for their children.  


And while its policy document make no mention of the fact, today the Prime Minister was insisting that nannies won't be included for the rebate. 


JOHN HOWARD: They will not be able to provide it for nannies. They will not be able to obtain it in relation to the payments they make to nannies, no. 


REPORTER: Mr Howard, your chief media adviser yesterday was saying that if the nannies were registered, that they would be able to get the rebate. Doesn't that show confusion and disarray on the policy? 


JOHN HOWARD: Well I have not the faintest idea what my chief media adviser told you, and I'm sure he says certain things to the media it would not be fit for me to hear. 


(laughter from media) 


REPORTER: Like what? 


(laughter from John Howard and media) 


NICK GRIMM: The Prime Minister's message to the assembled media, 'Believe me, not my advisers'. 


JOHN HOWARD: I always tell the truth. 


MARK LATHAM: So is it in or is it out? Are the nannies going to be eligible for the 30 per cent rebate? What we've got here is chaos - absolute chaos - in Coalition child care policy. It's another indication that this is not good structured planning and thinking for the benefit of the sector. It's actually policy on the run. 


MARK COLVIN: Mark Latham ending Nick Grimm's report.