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Queensland: Senator clarifies his support for the Liberal Party Leader, John Howard, and accepts the Coalition's joint Senate ticket arrangements for the next Federal election

ELLEN FANNING: Well, it's difficult to get away from the election fever which is being felt in parts of the country. Senator Ron Boswell has called A.M., this morning. He's on the line now.

Now Senator, we've heard your weekend comments and we've also heard from Bob Tucker, the Queensland Liberal Party President. What do you have to say in response?

RON BOSWELL: Well, I wanted to clarify a couple of points. Firstly, I want to say that I want John Howard to be the leader, and no one is working harder to be the Prime Minister, and no one is working harder than that, than I am for that than I am. But I also .. what my rallying call to the conference was that we must protect our Senate positions, and by handing a Liberal Senate card would not assist the Queensland National Party Senate team. But I don't want that in any way to be construed that I'm anti-Liberal or anti-John Howard.

And at the end of my speech, I said that our people in regional rural Australia couldn't wait another three years for a change of government, and we all had to get behind the Coalition and win.

ELLEN FANNING: But you also went on to say that the Liberals were refusing to compromise on the issue of a joint Senate ticket, and you were very critical of them for that. Are you backing away from that this morning?

RON BOSWELL: No, I said that the Liberal Party would not provide a joint Senate ticket, but let's forget about that now. They've made that decision and we've got to go on and just accept that and do the best that we can and win our share of the Senate, and we wouldn't do that by handing out a Liberal Senate card.

ELLEN FANNING: How hard have you worked for Coalition unity in Queensland? We heard Mr Tucker say that you refused a meeting recently with a senior Liberal to discuss this matter.

RON BOSWELL: That is true. My friend, the Leader in the Senate, Robert Hill, did try and arrange a meeting, but I said to him I have no negotiating power with Mr Tucker. The Leader of the National Party, Don McDonald, and his executive are in negotiations and I don't believe that I can go in there and muddy the water for them. I have no power in negotiations and I just didn't believe it was right and fitting for me to go in and negotiate a position when I have no power. That's up to the executive of the National Party, not to the Senate Leader.

And the other point I did want to clarify, too, that I was a member of Shadow Cabinet and I resigned over the privacy issue with a number of Liberals and crossed the floor at Christmas time, because my constituency, which is conservative, didn't believe that was in their best interest and they were very much against it, and I back my constituency and that's why I resigned.

ELLEN FANNING: You were saying that the listeners, this morning, and people listening in Queensland should forget about all this. Why then did you choose to stand up on the weekend and make an issue of it?

RON BOSWELL: What I told my people - forget about the joint Senate ticket; it's not going to happen. We've tried to get it and it's not going to happen. Let's forget about it and get on with the game. I said kick the ball into the middle and we'll play as hard as we can to maximise our Senate vote and maintain our Senate positions, but that shouldn't in no way be constructed as being critical of the Liberal Party.

ELLEN FANNING: Senator Boswell, we thank you.