Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Prime Minister discusses election campaign; indigenous issues; border security; employment; and campaign material.



Download PDFDownload PDF

PRIME MINISTER

23 November 2007

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP INTERVIEW WITH RAY HADLEY RADIO 2GB, SYDNEY

Subjects: Federal election: indigenous issues; border security, employment; campaign material

E&OE………………………………………………………………………………

HADLEY:

My plan this morning was to catch up with both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, on the eve of the election. Mr Rudd’s office is not answering or returning calls from this program, nor from the Alan Jones program. So they’re either at the moment on an FM network somewhere poking fun at themselves and talking about the colour of ties or what breakfast cereal they prefer. The Prime Minister is of course making himself available. He’s on the line from Cairns I believe. Prime Minister, good morning.

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I’ve just arrived in Townsville.

HADLEY:

You’re further south then.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah, I’m working my way south. Good to talk to you Ray.

HADLEY:

Good to talk to you, Mr Howard. I did catch you I think yesterday, the day before, talking to Santa Claus where you said you’ll find out on Saturday night whether you’ve been a naughty or good boy.

PRIME MINISTER:

That’s right.

HADLEY:

Will you be a good boy or a naughty boy?

PRIME MINISTER:

That’s right. We’ll I’ll know on Saturday night, won’t I?

HADLEY:

Have you caught up with this story from Neil Mitchell in Melbourne with Kevin Rudd discussing whether he’d say sorry for, to the indigenous community as opposed to he’d apologise or say sorry? Has anyone mentioned that to you this morning?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, nobody’s mentioned to me, what has he said?

HADLEY:

Ok, we’ll I’ll just play it for you. It’s a little bit, it’s a little bit ordinary the audio but I hope you can hear it from Townsville.

RUDD:

It, well the substance of it will be sorry, apology, but frankly if you’re asking me for the precise form of language…

MITCHELL:

No, I’m not, I’m asking for that one word because this is where the Prime Minister has been targeted. Will you use the word sorry?

RUDD:

Um, well, apology is sorry, it’s the same thing.

HADLEY:

They’ve been at you for a number of years about sorry and now he seems to be hedging his bets.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I’m interested he says that. I mean, and this is an old debate about Indigenous policy but I’ve got to say to Mr Rudd, sorry, apology is not the same thing. I’m very sorry if something sad happens to you, but I don’t apologise for it because I’m not

responsible. That’s been my position all along in relation to Indigenous affairs. I do not believe that the current generation of Australians should accept responsibility for what happened in earlier generations and that has always been my position and it will not alter. I believe that what we should focus on is helping Indigenous people become part of the mainstream of our nation and share in its bounty and that is the best thing that we can do for them.

HADLEY:

The me-tooism that’s been talked about. There’s a little bit of that this morning on the front page of The Australian newspaper, but when you get, delve into the detail, your policy on protecting Australian shores is much different from Kevin Rudd’s policy.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it’s quite different. I mean, the Labor Party does not believe in the Pacific solution, the Labor Party opposed to the excision of islands. The Labor Party has, over the years, adopted and entirely different position. This is Mr Rudd on the eve of the election trying to give the impression that his policy is the same as ours, it is very different. I mean, once again, it’s what you actually do when you are called upon to take a position that matters. When we were turning back boats, they were being very critical. When we were excising islands, they were being very critical. When we sent people to Nauru, they were being very critical. I mean, they have been opposed to the Pacific solution all along and yet the Pacific solution has been part of a number of actions which have stopped the boats coming and the reason Mr Rudd is saying all of this on the eve of the election is that he realises that the policies taken by the, policy pursued by the Government over the years has been very, very, very strong and consistent.

HADLEY:

I’m made this a poll-free zone for six weeks, it’ll continue to be so until tomorrow when the only poll that’s conducted that counts will be conducted. In relation to you fighting elections, how does this one compare in terms of that six week period, the highs and the lows, the good and the bad, how does it compare?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well they all have similarities, but this one is different. One of the things that’s different about this election is that it’s called at a time when the country has rarely been stronger economically. We have the lowest unemployment in 33 years, we’re growing at the rate of four per cent. We have laid out a very detailed tax plan for the future. I think one of the big differences between this election and previous elections that I’ve fought as Prime Minister is that the economy this time is even stronger according to all of the measurements that we have to use, the low level of unemployment, the final liquidation of all of the debt we inherited 11 and a half years

ago, the very strong growth, the fact that we have invested money in funds for education and health as well as, of course, the Future Fund that will look after the future obligations of the Commonwealth to retain employees. So I guess the big difference on this occasion is that we are fighting it in circumstances of quite unparalleled strength and prosperity and that really is relevant to the choice that undecided voters have to make tomorrow and I’m sure a lot of people listening to this program are still undecided.

And can I just say very simply to them that if they think our nation is fundamentally going in the right direction, they shouldn’t vote to change the government because whenever you change the government, you do change the fundamental direction of the country, its economy and potentially the living standards of its people. Every government is different and since the country is heading fundamentally in the right direction, please don’t take the risk of changing the government because you may disturb that fundamentally correct direction and that would be my final, very central argument to people listening to this program who’ve still not made up their mind - they think, well maybe a change is a good thing. If the country is headed in the right direction, a change is not a good thing because you run the risk that you’re going to upset it.

HADLEY:

In all the years I’ve known you, I don’t think I’ve seen you lose your temper more than maybe once or twice. Was it tested when this stupidity of Lindsay was visited upon us in the last 48 hours?

PRIME MINISTER:

I mean, that was just ridiculous. It came from nowhere and had nothing to do with senior people in the party and, of course, was offensive and wrong and I made that very clear. But it was the isolated actions of a few people and it having been dealt with and the disciplinary action having been taken, it doesn’t taint our party, it doesn’t taint our cause. We are just getting on with arguing our case.

HADLEY:

It’s probably made Karen Chijoff’s job a little bit harder, however, I mean, it was going to be tough anyway with Jackie Kelly going?

PRIME MINISTER:

She’s a great candidate, Karen, and I’ve been out there several times and I think she’s a very, very good candidate and I wish her well and she has my very strong support and I think she will be a very energetic representative for the people of Lindsay and

I’m quite sure she was as upset by that as I am.

HADLEY:

Do you expect to go to bed on Saturday evening knowing your fate and the fate of the nation?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, you never know, you just don’t know with these elections. I think we can win, I really do. I have sensed, as I’ve moved around the country, that support is coming back. I have just spent the last 24 hours in Queensland. I’m in Townsville now. I was in the suburbs of Brisbane last night. I met hundreds, probably a couple of thousand people, and I don’t sense the rejection of the Government. I sense people saying, well, the country’s not in bad shape and I’d finish the statement - well, if the country’s not in bad shape, don’t change the government because the Government has been responsible for, the Government rather, has been responsible for bringing that about.

But I guess the other thing I’ve got to emphasise is this extraordinary strong job market we have at the moment. I would say it was the most emotionally touching thing that I’ve had in a campaign is the enthusiasm of young people for their job prospects, whether it’s in Penrith or in the suburbs of Perth or in Tasmania. It’s all the same. Young people now leave school with lots of options. They can go to TAFE, they can go to university or they can go straight into a job and they’ve not only just got a job, they’ve got a job of their choice and it was very different 10 or 15 years ago, very, very different and I think that’s one of the biggest changes that I’ve noticed between, say, this election campaign and the one I won in ’96, since the end of the Keating Government.

HADLEY:

Because you’ve been to so many elections, are there any superstitions or things you’ll do tomorrow morning that you’ll repeat?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I’m not into that.

HADLEY:

Lucky shirts?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, well I auctioned a walk for the Leukaemia Foundation at a charity night for them and I’m walking with the people who won that and so I’ll be carrying on, in a sense, as normal tomorrow morning.

HADLEY:

Well, just remember that they may not be as fervent a walker as you, so ease up on them? I got for a walk with my wife and she goes far too quickly, don’t you do that to the people who donate the money to charity.

PRIME MINISTER:

OK, I’ll remember that.

HADLEY:

Just ease up a bit. Remember they mightn’t walk everyday.

PRIME MINISTER:

Okay, I’ll remember that.

HADLEY:

And then win, lose or result not known Sunday morning, are you going to have a sleep in?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’ll be walking Sunday morning, irrespective. I will not be altering that routine. It’s a very valuable routine and I will be out there behaving quite normally, no matter what the result is, and life goes on but I expect to be out there walking still as Prime

Minister.

HADLEY:

As always, thanks for your time.

PRIME MINISTER:

OK Ray, thanks a lot.

[ends]