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Transcript of interview with Lucienne Joy: 2GB: 12 Februrary 1993



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Leader of the Opposition

INTERVIEW WITH DR J R HEWSON MP, AND LUCIENNE JOY OF 2GB RADIO, 12 FEBRUARY 1993 E& OE

JRH: We do have the answers, we do have a plan that will solve the problem and, in fact, today I'm going to be saying a lot about small business and a small business led recovery because, I think, its the best hope for a job for the unemployed is to get the business community going and the sooner we recognise that over the years Government has made life difficult if not impossible for small business with not only very high interest rates but increaseing taxes and charges. Reversing that process

gives them the capacity to grow and, of course, thats where the jobs come from.

J; Yes, is this the plan that we hear about this morning that your going to give 150 per cent tax deduction on wages to small businesses in order that they can give work to the unemployed.

JRH: Well, that's an option that we have considered. There are a range of options we have considered but most of our policy on small business Is out and I'll be pulling it together today in a discussion with a number of small business people as part of one of the things that I am doing in the course of the day.

J: Are you still adding to your policy in that way by adding details like this one?

JRH: Yes, we are adding and we are going to add to Fightback! and flesh it out in some cases between now and the election. We foreshadowed that would be the case and in a number of these areas we will be doing it but the principle focus of our campaign is clearly on jobs and each day this last week we've run on a jobs theme. Yesterday, I was talking about fast tracking the Badgery's Creek Airport as a major international

passenger and cargo airport and we've committed some money to the infrastructure for that and today's small business in general, focussing on here in Queensland in particular, but each day will be adding to Fightback in the sense of developing our theme on jobs.

J: • Now, you described this as fleshing our Fightback!, it could also be said that the blueprint which you mapped out, what nearly 18 months ago, Is in fact not comprehensive enough, that your doing, in fact, exactly what Paul Keating is doing and dangling carrots in front of the voters.

JRH: No, we foreshadowed most of what we will amount. We did allocate money, for example, as we did the Fightback! for future development of certain ideas and in some cases it was just simply a matter of working with the small business groups as has been the case in the last twelve months, in other cases it's been digging into

issues like child care or some of the initiatives we've announced for the aged, talking to the self-funded retirees.

We had foreshadowed we would do something about it at the time we announced Fightback!, we built it into the figuring but the detail was to be finalised having discussed the matter with these groups, listening to what they've had to say.

COMMONWEALTH

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT. 2600 Phone 277 4022 PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

Or the famous ten second grab.

JRH: Right, its hard to convey that, but I will be selling cheap petrol and cheap food, of course, in the course of the campaign and that will elevate it at the national level, but it is happening in each of those seats right throughout Australia.

J: Now that we've talked about television lets get onto another point and there's lots of things, obviously, to talk about this morning. Yesterday I was saying on this program that I thought the street walk theme was just simply not working and was counterproductive for you and for Paul Keating and just about any politician. It

appears contrived, it appears carefully orchestrated. It looked like a set piece for the television cameras and photographers, like a (photo-op), a photo opportunity which is essentially what it is and that in the end, especially when we hear about the fact that some of the questioners are, in fact, planned it does you no good whatsoever.

JRH: I haven't seen them as orchestrated, and I didn't believe they were orchestrated. The one we did yesterday in Parramatta was, of course, a sharp contrast to the one the day before but, I mean, I think there are quite a lot of Labor Party people out there putting their points of view. But that's one of the things about democracy which think we should accept, you can get out there in the public domain and meet people

and in our business you've got to be prepared to take all comers. You'll always get someone who supports you, you'll always get someone who supports the other side.

I think it is important though, to get out and about and met people. It's a lot harder in an election campaign but it is a much bigger media push. But, I have literally been doing this now for the time, a bit over two and a half years, I suppose since I became Leader and it is an important part of getting out and hearing what people have got to say and although the television cameras don't pick it up there are a lot of instances

on the street walk where people do stop and they do ask you genuine questions you do get a chance to give an answer. Television doesn't run but only the loud attacks and so on and the atmospherics get the television grab but there are a lot of people who come up with very genuine questions and its a chance for you to listen to what they've got to say as much as it is for you to put your point of view, so I do think they do have there place in a campaign and we do quite a lot of them.

J: So, you think it is important for the people in the streets that you meet, not just for the television cameras that you are saying on some level at least their genuine because there was a terrifying program on television last night about American electioneering and how absolutely orchestrated and rigged all that sort of thing is in America and

my fear is that we're going the same way.

JRH: I. agree with you Lucienne, I hope we don't because, I can give you dozens of examples, a woman came up to me the other day, we were over at the seat of Lowe, she came all the way from Windsor to say something to me, to give me a message, another woman had come quite a long way and waited quite sometime to ask me a

question, I had a couple again in Parramatta yesterday, they are very genuine people who are taking a very genuine opportunity to get a concern across or to raise a point which they don't feel they can get to you any other way.

I think allocating an hour or an hour of a half a day to doing that is important, even though we risk the imagery only being, of course, the high profile noisy supporters or opposers.

J: Which are often plants who are often, in fact, members of either party.

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JRH: Yes, under Fightback! there are three parts to that. One as a self funded retiree they only get to earn $5400 tax free whereas a pensioner, in effect, can earn $10,000, its a bit odd that those who prepare for their own retirement are discriminated against,

J: Yep.

JRH: We will increase the tax free threshold to the same as a pensioner which is over $10,000, thats one thing. Secondly, lower tax generally, a 25 per cent cut in tax and he'll benefit enormously from that and thirdly we do have a proposal for tax free savings. If he's increasing his savings he'll be able to save up to about, from memory, about $12,000/$12,500 each year in new savings tax free.

So there are three elements to giving the tax break and I understand what he feels because with interest rates being halved, of course, his income - or more than halved - his income has probably gone down dramatically and, of course, the tax system hasn't helped in those cii umstances.

J: In fact that has been a big problem in a lot of self funded retirees have been hit very hard. I mean, they might have had zero inflation but everything else, their money, in fact, has gone down by half as you said. Big problems for them.

J: Another, presumably a student, he wants to know what will happen to AUSTUDY and ABSTUDY for students under a Coalition Government?

JRH: A six per cent increase.

J: Alright.

JRH: We are going to increase it by 6 per cent which is about three times the effect of the GST on prices so they will be significantly better off.

J: And you will maintain the ABSTUDY, which I think is the way they can borrow money and then pay it back after over a certain amount of time.

JRH: If we'd actually done a little more in relation to student loans and I must say in terms of education generally, I think we put about $3 billion more into education and training over the rest of the decade.

I've been significantly influenced by my background as a professor and very conscious of the need of education, particularly tertiary and training, I should say university, and other training and we've concentrated a lot of money into those areas and not only to help the individuals but also to give them more flexibility and more scholarships, better access to effective loan schemes and more money into the education itself.

J: Another caller has asked, as he said you were directing your attention to small business, what small businesses would you recommend people to get involved in? Someone looking for a few helpful hints I think?

JRH: Well look it a no-win 'pollie' to start talking about that but anything that is related to exports and international trade is where a lot of our growth is going to come from.

In the service sector, of course, any services really but anything that is tourist related and I think we'll see a big recovery in the course of the rest of this decade as we aim to quadruple the number of foreign tourists.