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Transcript of the Prime Minister the Hon John Howard MP: doorstop interview (2nd) - Brisbane.



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14 May 1999

 

 

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER

THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW (2ND)- BRISBANE

 

 

E&OE…………………………………………………………………………………

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Prime Minister, is that it for the GST?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

No, no. I am as committed to tax refor m and lower personal tax for the Australian community as ever before. We fought and won an election having disclosed in full what we intended to do. We are willing to make even fairer a very fair tax package. We will move those amendments in the Senate and we will continue to persevere and press to implement the mandate given to us by the Australian people last October.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Will you try once again with Mr Harradine?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

There’s no point. I had a long talk to him this afternoon. Unless of course he indicates a change of mind but I don’t think he will. You should talk to him about that. He told me that he couldn’t support the package. He acknowledged that the compensation changes were generous, were significant. The case for example for getting rid of food is less now than it was 24 hours ago because the compensation is even more generous.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Would you like to reveal the extent of that package and compensation?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Yes. The compensation is in the order of 1 to $1.5 billion on an annual basis. It includes an increase of 4% to 5% in the compensation for pensioners. It includes an increase from 25% to 26% in the factor so far as the pension is concerned, the guarantee. So that eliminates totally any suggestion that the compensation could be eroded. It locks the compensation in for all time, for all time it locks it in. It includes increases in benefits for large families, it includes an increase in the self-funded retirees’ benefit and making that available for self-funded retirees at the age of 55. I also indicated to Senator Harradine that we would deliver in full on the requests that he made in relation to the youth allowance.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

He says that you can’t lock in and give that guarantee. You obviously didn’t manage to convince him.

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Well nothing can be guaranteed in life Spencer. He can’t guarantee that a future Labor government won’t increase wholesale sales tax.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Well you say that you won’t give up. Are you prepared to deal w ith the Democrats and back down on food?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

No. We’re not prepared to back down on food. The case for changing food is less now than it was 24 hours ago because we have significantly increased the compensation.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Is that enough then to appeal to the Democrats?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Well you should go and talk to the Democrats.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

But you would hope?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Well look, you go and talk to the Democrats. I mean I am more interested in keeping faith with the Australian people then I am with keeping faith with other parties. We disclosed every last detail of this. We were honest, up front and candid. What more do you have to do to implement a programme that the Australian public voted for. I didn’t keep it in my back pocket, I didn’t mislead them. I was up front, I was honest, I was forthright and I was candid. And I won the election and I now want the right to implement the programme I took to the Australian people which has been made even more fairer and more generous. Now that is the choice that the Parliament faces.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

And you’ll go through to the bottom line then?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

We will continue to push the package. I have no intention of backing away because tax reform is needed for Australia. Not for John Howard, for Australia. And that is the course that I’m resolved to continue down.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Lastly Mr Howard, Senator Harradine said that he had apologised to you by phone. He expected his name would be mud now. Did you accept his apology and his he in fact mud?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Well Senator Harradine is accountable not to me but to the Australian people. I don’t intend to denigrate Senator Harradine personally. I never have and I never will. Every promise I’ve ever made to Senator Harradine I’ve honoured in full, in full. And I’ll continue to do that into the future. But Senator Harradine’s argument is with the Australian people, it is not with me.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

You’re an angry man tonight?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

No, I believe that the Australian people are entitled to better than this from their political system. I believe the Australian people are entitled if they vote for a government that’s fully disc losed its promises that that government should be kept to those promises and should implement them. And plainly that is in danger of not happening and I think the Australian people have a right to be angry about that, not me.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Prime Minister thank you for your time.

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Thank you.

 

[ends] 

 

 

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