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Transcript of Interview with Alan Jones: Radio 2UE: 27 July 1993: taxes; Peter Reith; Keating's broken promises; Mabo



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27 July 1993 REF: TRANSCR\0078:MM:DJ

JOHN HEWSON MP

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH ALAN JONES RADIO 2UE, SYDNEY

E & Ο E - PROOF COPY ONLY

SUBJECTS: Taxes; Peter Reith; Keating's Broken Promises; • Mabo

JONES:

I think the ABC news at night make a fair fist of things, Richard Morcroft, they do a good job. But I turned on the news last night, I think the second story on the news was that Dr Hewson has a problem with his leadership. I mean, I thought to myself,

are we going completely bananas.

The economy is a mess. We're being told we could be subjected to a tax on just about every aspect of our lives, to pay for that mess. One or two people get early tax . CUtS. . . ;

If you're under $20,000 you'll get nothing. If you're over $36,000, forget it, you'll never see a tax cut in the life of this government. Then there'll be an extra tax on people who are in work, the so-called "wealthy", to create jobs, jobs for tax officials, I suppose, to collect the revenue, and more bureaucrats to set up more useless training programs. Then we're told there could be a capital gains tax on the family home, a tax on our spare bedrooms, an inheritance tax, rises in wholesale taxes. I thought it was John Hewson who, before the election, was warning us that this is just the way to push business under. We've got Mabo tearing the country apart, the Government

unable to give any firm direction on how the High Court decision is to be implemented. We've been lied to. Just about every election promise made by the Government has been broken. Mothers who stayed at home were told they'd get thirty dollars a week. Mothers with children were told they'd get a thirty dollar rebate on the cost of childcare. Pensioners were told they'd pay no tax by 1995. We've now got them being taxed on the unrealised capital gain on their shares. They were told ■ they'd get free dental care. Now they're being told they won't.

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Parliament House. Canberra, A.C.I. 2MX) Phone 2774022

COMMONWEALTH

PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

REF: TRANSCR\0078:MM:DJ 2.

As I said umpteen times in recent weeks, the level of public administration in this country is a joke. Yet you open the papers, look at TV, what's the focus - Dr Hewson! Whether or not Peter Reith is to be brought back into the Cabinet! Whether or not Bronwyn Bishop is going to challenge for the leadership!

I just find this un[believable], I think Dr Hewson is eminently entitled to believe that someone's having a go at him. The bloke that put a proposal to the people and it was rejected. OK, he might have put it poorly, many people thought he did. He mightn't have consulted widely, and I don't think he did. But the fact of the matter is,

he's not running the joint. I see the Liberals have dropped in the latest Newspoll, published in today's Australian. Although the Coalition is still ahead, its support has dropped from 50 to 45 per cent against the Government's 43 per cent. You'd wonder how the Government would get 3, let alone 43. Mr Keating is still the preferred Prime Minister, with 38 per cent, compared with Dr Hewson's 34.

But Dr Hewson is the man who was vilified during the election campaign by the Government for talking about a GST, for saying we should leave income alone, 'cause savings are short, and tax expenditure. And if we do, we'll give business $10 billion in rebates, get it out of the road, and let's get on with making sure we can restructure the tax base. ■

I thought we'd have a word with Dr Hewson, if he doesn't feel punch-drunk. He's on the line, good morning.

HEWSON:

Good morning Alan.

JONES:

What the hell are they doing to you?

HEWSON:

I think they continue to try and make us the issue when, if fact, of course, it's the Government that, as you correctly said, lied all the wayihrough the election campaign and now should be held accountable for everything they said and everything they promised.

JONES:

But do you think that, you know, in this crisis now, that you're tough enough. I mean, are you're out there swinging with all arms, do you reckon?

REF: TRANSCR\0078:MM:DJ 3.

HEWSON:

I believe I am, yes. I was, I gave two major speeches last weekend where I really took it to the Government and it is, it is difficult to get coverage for some of those. I was surprised that in Victoria when I, I really did go after Keating in a big way the focus was on Peter Reith, but, you know, this is just something we live with from the media.

JONES:

Yeah! Some people would say if Peter Reith wants a job commensurate with his experience and ability, you might sort of find a few cars around the back streets to be washed, many people out there would think. Are you going to be, sort of, seduced into accommodating Peter Reith's demands? .

HEWSON:

No, look. I've always said, Alan, that I'd like to have Peter back on the team. I'm interested in getting the best team I possibly can and I was disappointed when both he and Bronwyn decided, for their own reasons, not to be part of it and to go to the backbench. So, I mean, but I’m not going to give up, I'm going to continue to find a way of giving them a job. It's just a matter of time.

JONES:

There are more important issues, though, in the national interest, aren't there?

- HEWSON:

Absolutely. I mean...

JONES:

... Now on those, then. On that, do you think that you were precipitate, immediately after the election, I remember that interview, I think it was Centennial Park, or somewhere, where you said, well, the GST has gone. It's over. It's finished. It's off. And many people said well what the hell is Hewson deciding policy on the run here the day after the election? I mean, isn't the case today, perhaps, stronger than ever,

of taxing expenditure and leaving income alone;"'"-"

HEWSON:

Well, there's a very strong case for tax reform. You'd have to say that that election did vote against the GST. I mean, Keating...

O.-iB

REF: TRANSCR\0078:MM:DJ 4.

JONES:

...It may not have, you know. It may have voted against presentation. It may have voted against Medicare and some of the things where you got yourself tied up.

HEWSON:

Well, it's always a matter of debate, but I think the general feeling among our Party people and most of our organisation people was that Keating successfully made that election a referendum on the GST. So, as it went to that election, it's dead. But, of

course, tax reform isn't, and as you said at the start, we've got to have a system that cuts business costs, we’ve got to have a system that restores incentive to the system.

JONES:

But just because Mr Keating made that the issue, he also made tax in law an issue. He made rebates to women who work, for childcare an issue, he made pensioners an issue, he made half a million jobs an issue. Those things have been stood on their head. May he not have been wrong, for political convenience, on the GST? It may not be best to say to ...(inaudible)... or revisit on the public the kind of things that you in fact were suggesting to give them a second chance at rethinking it.

HEWSON:

Well, we certainly haven't given up on indirect tax reform, although we won’t be coming back with a GST proposal...

JONES:

...just to revisit that...

HEWSON:

...Alan, we're going to, in a sense you're going to get the best part of a GST anyway. And...

JONES:

...get the best and the worst... What, just let's revisit this. You were saying to business that you'd wipe out all those sales taxes and payroll taxes, and what was the total accumulation of those taxes you were going to drop?

HEWSON:

About $20 billion worth.

5. REF: TRANSCR\0078:MM:DJ

JONES:

$20 billion. And then you were going to go outside and say well, we'll tax expenditure so that you've got some discretion as to what you keep and what you spend.

HEWSON:

That's right.

JONES:

Well, it must be hard to wake up in the morning.

HEWSON:

Well, it just gives me an absolute determination to continue on to argue the case against this Government. I mean, they...

JONES:

...but you're going to have to come clean and at some point, John, that that is the case. I mean. You can't have it both ways. You ...(inaudible)... say Keating all voted against GST, so we're not GST. I mean, you're going to have to say what it is you stand for on that issue.

HEWSON:

Yes. Well we, what we've said we'll do is obviously well wait now to see what they do because I think they'll go a long way down the track to broadening the sales tax base, which is another form of GST. I think you'll find taxes coming in on services, hotel rooms, meals. And they'll lock more business inputs and what we'll have to do is look at how we can then reform that system. .

JONES:

They'll increase the costs. Just increase, nothing about cutting expenditure, just increase the costs.

HEWSON:

No, well that's it. They, they are all about new taxes and different forms of taxes, all about additional taxes.

6. REF: TRANSCR\0078:MM:DJ

JONES:

If, when Mr Keating was Treasurer, there had been a decision of the High Court which found that a loophole being exercised by business people was legitimate, and the High Court found that, which represented a foregoing of, say, $500 million in revenue for the government, Mr Keating would have run to the Parliament and closed that

loophole, an issue at common law. The Mabo decision is a common law issue, not a constitutional law issue. Shouldn't there be legislation in the Parliament urgently to let ail Australians know where they stand in relation to that matter?

HEWSON:

The legislation they need, and I say yes there should·be legislation, but the legislation they need right now is joint Commonwealth/State legislation to guarantee existing title. People should have not doubt about the titles that they've got. I doesn't matter whether it's a freehold title, a mining tenement, a pastoral lease. I mean, they've acted

in good faith. They've received those titles, they should know they're secure. And that's the legislation that should be put in place immediately. It can be, and it's a major failing of this Government that when they had the Heads of Government meeting the Prime Minister just tried to crash through with his own madcap proposal of not

only dealing with Mabo, but trying to reconcile black and white Australia for the last two hundred years, which nobody has been able to do. It's crazy to go beyond what is essential right now. It is absolutely essential for the investment climate in Australia that legislation be passed to make sure nobody has any doubt about their title.

JONES:

Alright, well, meanwhile we'll keep seeing the headlines about you. You might tell Jim Middleton, will you, tomorrow, that there are more important stories for item number two on the ABC news.

HEWSON:

Yes, we'll try and get Jim to focus on taxes.

JONES: — ·

Yeah, OK. Good to talk to you. Thank you for your time.

Ends...

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