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Transcript of doorstop interview: CEDA breakfast, Sydney: 4 August 1993: budget tax increases



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Leader of the Opposition

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4 August 1993 REF: TRANSCR\WH\DT\021

TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP INTERVIEW JOHN HEWSON MP CEDA BREAKFAST, SYDNEY

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SUBJECTS: Budget tax increases

Jmlst:

Does the government have a mandate to ....

Hewson:

Absolutely not, I mean the only mandate they got from the last election campaign was no increases in tax at all, no new taxes. That's the only message that the people of Australia gave them.

Jmlst:

...inaudible...

Hewson:

Well we are obviously going to look at the budget on its merits but we reserve our position. We don't rule out the option of voting against those tax changes in the Budget.

Jmlst:

...inaudible...

Hewson:

Well that's his problem. He's the one who went to the election promising that he could deliver a lower deficit, he could deliver tax cuts, and he could do it without cutting government expenditure. It was always a lie and it's been shown to be a lie. In fact they've admitted the Prime Minister himself two weeks ago at the Press Club basically admitted that

Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 Phone 277 4022 COMMONWEALTH

PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

REF: TRANSCR\WH\DT\021 2.

he'd lied to the people of Aqstralia, before the election, during the election and after the election and Mr Dawkins was sent out yesterday to tell us that we're now going to have tax increases and expenditure cuts in order to pay for it. So we'll look at it on its merits but we will work against the background of the mandate that they got at the last election, and the

people of Australia would expect we'd do nothing else.

Jmlst:

...inaudible...

Hewson:

Well we will as I say, we w ont rule out the option of voting against the tax changes in the Budget.

Jmlst

So you'd block supply?

Hewson:

No look it's not a question of blocking supply. It's a question of our position on those tax changes. We'll have to wait and see, we'll have to wait and see what the issue is, but I can tell you that this government is going to have a hard time in the Parliament from now on and we are going to represent the interests of the people of Australia. They went to that

election campaign, they lied through their teeth, and they're going to be held accountable for it.

Jmlst:

So what does that say about the stability of government?

Hewson:

Look you haven't had stability of government. These guys have got no idea what they're doing. They've got no sense of direction and here we see speculation in the paper today that there might be a second Budget this year, and they trot out one economic statement

after another. The Prime Minister's had several since he's been Prime Minister. It's pretty staggering, they've been there for ten years in power, for ten years, they still don't know what to do about unemployment. They've got an academic committee to look at that. They still can't pull it together and produce one budget document that's a responsible attempt to solve our problems. See to them, these are just political events, they are not a genuine

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attempt to deal with our problem, it's all about saving his political hide. Everything the Prime Minister does is a political game. It's not an attempt to deal with the problems that confront Australia. We've got a million unemployed, $200 billion dollars worth of debt and the guy plays political games.

Jmlst:

But cutting expenditure and raising revenue, isn't that fiscally responsible?

Hewson:

Look it's not a question of what's fiscally responsible. What was irresponsible was to go to the election promising people that you wouldn't have to do that, that you could deliver sizeable personal tax cuts without cutting expenditure and without increasing taxes and without introducing any new taxes and you could also bring down the budget deficit. Now that was irresponsible, and we've gone into the detail of what's a responsible package to

deal with the problems in the past. It's now up to the Prime Minister to deal with the expectations that he raised, the promises he made, the assessments he offered to the people of Australia....

Jmlst:

But are they just being responsive to changing circumstances?

Hewson:

No of course they're not. He knew, he knew at the time of the election that he was lying. He knew, there is ho doubt that he knew that he was lying at the time of the election. He's admitted as much. Within days of the election, he and Dawkins were planning behind the scenes how they'd back off the tax cuts even though they were out there publicly telling everyone we're still going to get the tax cuts.

Jmlst:

But you're holding to his promise no matter w h a t... inaudible...

Hewson:

Absolutely hold him to his promise, I mean that's our job. Our job is now to be an effective opposition. We took a full program, a full set of directions, a plan if you like for the future of Australia to the last election. It was rejected. The only message the Prime Minister got out of that was that he should not raise tax under any circumstances and that will be his

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death-knell. He will be tagged as a liar for the rest of his political career.

Jmlst:

...inaudible...

Hewson:

It's not a threat of supply. I'm just saying that we will vote against tax changes. That we may vote against tax changes. We're reserving our option on that until we see what they they actually do, and we will measure what they do against what they've said, which is only reasonable for an opposition to do.

Jmlst:

So what will be the consequences of voting against these tax changes?

Hewson:

You'll have to wait and see. I mean Mr Keating will not take it too well, I'm sure that we have reserved our position on this, but he's not going to get away with lying to the people of Australia, and we are going to drag him screaming to solving our problems in Australia. We are concerned about a million unemployed, he's not. We are concerned about the debts that has mortgaged the future of our children. I mean he's bludging on the future of our children and he's playing stupid political games rather then getting on with doing the job that he should be doing as the government. You know as we see, his government is

basically out of control. He's got no idea what to do, here they are still putting down the detail of this budget and foreshadowing they'll have another one in May of this, of next year. It's just a joke. It's a total shambles of governm ent....

Jmlst:

...inaudible...

Hewson:

It's absolutely not, I mean the government's very sensitive about this but what you've got to do is go back over the last few years and look at the shambles that they make of the parliament. And they bring dozens bills on the death-knell of the parliament and then guillotine them through without effective debate, ... bad legislation, a whole host of errors

gets pushed through, bad bills, they don't get proper scrutiny, they don't get proper public debate, and what we're saying to the government is enough's enough. You're in

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government it's about time you governed responsibly, it's about time that you put the bills in the parliament with a reasonable time for them to be debated so that the Australian community as well as the parliamentary process can have its say on those pieces of legislation. Now they were running around yesterday like they'd had their livelihoods ended whereas in fact all we're trying to do is introduce responsible government and it's very

responsible to say that let's see the bulk of your legislation by the first of October and we'll be very constructive about that. But we want a proper period in the parliament to debate this legislation not have you come at the last minute, jam it through the parliament, guillotine the bills through, and that is hopeless government. What we are trying to force on this crowd is responsible government, effective government. They do n t like it because they play silly political games rather then govern the country.

ends