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Wednesday, 31 May 2000
Page: 16692


Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) (3:30 PM) —Mr Speaker, as is appropriate, could I add to an answer I gave to the member for Petrie?


Mr SPEAKER —The Prime Minister may proceed.


Mr HOWARD —I have discovered that, in the course of giving an answer to the member for Petrie, I misrepresented the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I want to tender an apology to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for misrepresenting him. The remarks about wages policy that I read out were in fact uttered not by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition but by the former member for Gellibrand, who was then the Minister for Industrial Relations.


Mr Crean —That is a big mistake.


Mr HOWARD —Yes, a big mistake. Before the Deputy Leader of the Opposition draws any comfort, I have discovered in the very same program segment an interview attributed to the then leader of the ACTU, Simon Crean, who is now, I believe, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. In fact it makes the point that I was making earlier in my answer to the member for Petrie that the then government and their union supporters boasted of the falls in real wages that they had been able to achieve, because the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in his then capacity said:

I think that part of the problem that the Labor movement has faced ... is that we've almost made a virtue of the fact that what this system has produced is falls in real wages. It has produced falls in real wages ...

In other words, he made the point rather more powerfully. I am sorry I misrepresented him.