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Melbourne: transcript of doorstop interview: petrol, Australian dollar, beer excise, Senator Newman.

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Doorstop Interview

Simon Crean - Shadow Treasurer

Subjects: Petrol, Australian Dollar, Beer Excise, Senator Newman

Transcript - Treasury Gardens, Melbourne - 17 October 2000

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CREAN: Australian motorists are about to be slugged again, and John Howard won't do anything to relieve the pressure. He should adopt Labor's plan, which would give immediate relief of two cents a litre in the price of petrol.

The other concern for Australians is the impact of the falling dollar. In the Treasurer's own words, the level of the dollar is a 'report card' on the nation's economy. The falling dollar will add to inflation, together with the rise in fuel prices, together with the GST. Higher inflation will put more pressure for an increase in interest rates.

And beer is another example of a broken promise hurting ordinary Australians and putting struggling country pubs out of business. John Howard promised his GST would put the price of petrol [beer] up by only 1.9 per cent - it's gone up by 9 per cent. So, again, consumers are slugged, businesses affected, and all through a GST broken promise. Petrol and beer, in combination with the falling dollar, is all adding up to bad management impacting upon ordinary Australians.

JOURNALIST: So what's Labor's plan to ease the burden?

CREAN: In terms of petrol, Labor has proposed that we eliminate the GST effect from petrol prices. That would give an impact of two cents a litre fall in the price of petrol. It's a promise that John Howard made - he should honour it. But Labor is proposing it be done in the next February adjustments. If it were done, there would be two cents relief in the price of petrol.

JOURNALIST: What do you need to do to prop up the falling dollar?

CREAN: I think what the Australian Government has to do is to send a signal it's prepared to invest in our future - to invest in skills, to invest in research and development, to invest in education and training. If Australia's not prepared to invest in its future, why should anyone else?

JOURNALIST: Will Labor try to block the excise on beer in the Senate?

CREAN: Labor has indicated it will hold the Government to its promise. Its promise was only 1.9 per cent increase in the price of beer. We will support legislation that requires the Government to deliver that promise and not the 9 per cent hike.

JOURNALIST: Will the Democrats be with you on that?

CREAN: Well, we hope they will. The Democrats signed off on this deal. They have at stake their integrity … being honest. They understood the Government to be saying 1.9 per cent increase, not 9 per cent. They should support what we're doing in blocking the Government's tax grab.

JOURNALIST: Without the GST on petrol, what about the drop in revenue, can the Government afford that?

CREAN: It can afford it because the Government is getting a windfall. The increase in the price of petrol was not budgeted for in the accounts that they put before the Australian people. They are getting a windfall from the GST, they are getting a windfall from the petroleum resource rent tax, and that windfall should be returned to Australian motorists.

JOURNALIST: Do you think Senator Newman would make a good Governor-General?

CREAN: I think we can do better, and we should do better. I think that the standard established by Sir William Deane is what we should aspire to - equate to or improve upon. And I think we should look wider for that replacement.

JOURNALIST: ...(inaudible)...

CREAN: Again, I think that there is considerable merit in looking to a non-politician doing the role. I think that the Sir William Deane experience attests to the strength of that argument, and that's where we should be looking - outside of politics - for an appropriate replacement.


Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.