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Transcript of doorstop interview: Perth Airport: 1 August 2006: Interest rates; Liberal leadership; Reserve Bank Governor appointment.

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Subjects: Interest rates; Liberal leadership; Reserve Bank Governor Appointment.

BEAZLEY: Well it’s time now for John Howard to focus on interest rates and his broken promise. John Howard wrote to every member of the Liberal caucus declaring his leadership, he now needs to write to every Australian apologising for breaking his promise to them at the last election on interest rates.

Australians are doing it tough. Many Australians are doing it tough. I’ve spent the last few months in the winter break in Parliament going around this country announcing good policy, forward-looking nation building policy, and listening to what people have had to say to me. And there an awful lot of Australians out there who have been damaged by the first couple of rises in interest rates since John Howard broke the promise earlier on and if they’re hit again tomorrow they will be very damaged indeed.

Howard and Costello have spent the last few months worrying about themselves. Everything Howard has being doing has been campaigning against Peter Costello. What he’s not been doing is focussing on the needs of ordinary Australians and, as a result, the interest rate issue has got away from him. The petrol price issue has got away from him and he has in fact introduced some of his own problems for ordinary Australians with what he’s done on industrial relations.

After the next election if the Liberal Party wins, businessmen will implement his industrial relations changes to the maximum extent. Awards will go. All those essential underpinnings which mean that ordinary Australians can pay their mortgages will go. So they’ll be hit by a double whammy: losing their access to the ability to get penalty rates and the like which pay their mortgages, and facing a higher interest rate bill. Those will be the issues of the next election.

JOURNALIST: John Howard’s come out today and said that the Labor Party would hate like hell the professional way in which the Liberals, the Coalition has managed this. Do you hate it like hell?

BEAZLEY: Look I think that that shows his obsession. You see that’s Howard being focussed on his own position. That’s the point. Now out in the Australian community they want the Government to be worried about them and their future and I’ll tell you one thing that Costello, who is now irrelevant, got right during the course of his campaign against John Howard. He said it’s not about the last ten years it’s about the next ten years. Only the Labor Party has a nation building agenda now for the next ten years. Howard is not capable of delivering it. He is not capable of understanding it and he is not capable of delivering it. See Howard thinks in the past all the time and now all he thinks about is his record.

JOURNALIST; John Howard said that it’s time to put the leadership issue behind them and focus on the real issues but I mean do you think the damage has already been done in relation to the Liberal Party spat?

BEAZLEY: Look the Liberal Party has been very badly damaged by what has happened over the last few months, but the Liberal Party doesn’t matter. What matters is the Australian people and they have a Government that has simply not been focussed on their future. The nation building issues for their future.

They’ve had a Reserve Bank for years now, not for months, for years the Reserve Bank has been saying unless you invest in nation building you will create pressures which we will have to address through interest rate rises. It’s as simple as that.

The failure of Howard to focus on the need to get the right number of tradespeople in this country, the failure of Howard to focus on the need to repair our crumbling infrastructure, that all now has consequences and the consequence is rising interest rates. That’s the consequence.

So Howard is always full of smug self congratulation these days because Howard’s changed. He used to be about middle Australia when he was first elected. He wasn’t about smug complacency but boy have you seen some smug

complacency of late.

JOURNALIST: Did Howard every actually promise that interest rates would not rise over this Government?

BEAZLEY; Howard said he’d keep interest rates at historical lows. The last five interest rate movements have been up. He has broken his promise to the Australian people. Sure he clothed it with weasel words but the Australian people heard at the last election campaign from Howard, “re-elect the Liberals and your interest rates won’t rise.”

That’s what they heard. That’s what Liberal candidate after Liberal candidate ramped home. That’s what their advertising campaign was all about. There are no weasel words in their advertising campaign and they’ve broken their word to the Australian people.

JOURNALIST: Is a wages explosion now inevitable?

BEAZLEY: Look there is enormous pressure, enormous pressure on ordinary Australians now. They’re borrowed to the eyeballs. They’ve got rising petrol prices, about which Howard has done nothing over the course of the last ten years. We always needed to get ourselves into a position where we uncoupled ourselves from Middle East oil. But Howard has done nothing for that over the course of the last ten years. Now we’ve put out some very good

proposals on that but the trouble is those proposals should have been being worked over in the last ten years or we wouldn’t be facing the position we’re facing now.

JOURNALIST: How dangerous is a quarter interest rate rise to the public?

BEAZLEY: We have now the second highest interest rates in the industrialised world. We have now an Australian community borrowed to the eyeballs with very high levels of household debt. Another interest rate rise will be crippling for an awful lot of people. And just remember when it occurs, if it occurs, it’s John Howard’s fault.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask you if you support the new Reserve Bank Governor who’s been appointed today?

BEAZLEY: Yes they’ve appointed a good Reserve Bank Governor. I think he’ll do well. He’s got a tough and very difficult job made tougher by the fact that the last Reserve Bank Governor had all his advice ignored by Howard over the last ten years.

Howard has lived for the day; he’s surfed on the great economy produced by the Western Australian mineral and Queensland minerals boom. He’s surfed on that and has done no investing and there’s a very real chance now in interest rates rises the chickens are coming home to roost.

Good on you. Thanks.