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Transcript of doorstop interview of the Leader of the Opposition, Radio 6PR, Perth, 20 May 2005. Subjects: Vivian Solon; problems in the Immigration Department; donations to political parties; PM's visit to drought-affected areas; Tax cuts.

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Subjects: Vivian Solon; Problems in the Immigration Department; Donations to political parties; PM’s visit to drought-affected areas; Tax cuts

JOURNALIST: First of all, the Immigration row. I believe the Government is now going to bring the Filipino lady home, take care of her, pay for her medical expenses. I mean, how do you feel about how this has progressed:

BEAZLEY: Well, how much better would it have been if the Government had done their job and properly monitored their situation? They wouldn’t be entailing this expense now. This is a Government paddling very hard to get themselves out of trouble. The fact of the matter is this: we’ve had one scandal after another and they will not properly investigate it. They need a Royal Commission dealing with all these immigration scandals immediately so we can get to the bottom of it.

JOURNALIST: Any more that, I mean, is there a concern that we saw Cornelia Rau first, we’ve had this one. I mean, what else is there?

BEAZLEY: Exactly right. We’ve seen Cornelia Rau, we’ve seen the Solon case, there were identified, apparently to the Palmer Inquiry, some 33 cases in addition to that where people have been wrongly detained or something like that has happened to them. This is the stuff of states with more severe ideological reputations than ours. This is the stuff of proper inquiry now. I cannot understand why, when there are Royal Commissions on this and that called for various purposes, some of them worthwhile and not, when you get something where already you’ve identified 35 people as having been mistreated, there shouldn’t be a full blown investigation into it now. It’s all very well to fix up the problem after it’s occurred, the point is to prevent the problem occurring.

JOURNALIST: Reports this morning that Amanda Vanstone admits there may need to be a change of culture in her Department.

BEAZLEY: It’s take her a very long time to reach this point and there won’t be a change of culture unless that culture is properly inquired into. It’s as simple as that. If Amanda Vanstone is unable to organise a Royal Commission,

unable to persuade the Prime Minister to do it, quite frankly we’ll only get the bits and pieces, the outside edges of what’s going wrong here in the administration of DIMIA. You need a full blown examination.

Now, there’s another area which I think you might like to touch on and that’s this story, you’ve seen it from Eric Abetz, talking about raising the threshold of political donations that you don’t have to declare.

In 1984, I introduced an Act into Parliament which created transparency in the Australian political system with donations. If we go down the road that this Government is talking about going down in which people do not have to declare donations up to $5000, it will lead to slush funds, it will lead to corruption. The removal of transparency will undermine our democracy. I’ve got all the respect in the world for the United States but I don’t want the problems of the US system

here. This is just one step down that road. We need transparency in the election system if we’re going to uphold democracy. We do not need corruption.

JOURNALIST: Just on another issue. John Howard is heading out to the country today. I believe it’s going to be a topic of discussion for Cabinet. What do you have to say about what he plans to do?

BEAZLEY: I hope John Howard learns a great deal while he is out there talking to the drought-affected farmers when his Government, in the Budget, announced a $72 million cut to drought relief. Now, everybody knows that there are farmers in the Eastern States who have been suffering drought for a considerable period of time. The time has come for some serious action from the Government and it wasn’t evident in the Budget.

JOURNALIST: You’ve had a few Budget complaints this morning. In fact, that seemed to be most of the topic of conversation, one of which was for lower income earners who’d actually like our tax cuts now. Why won’t you give them what they want?

BEAZLEY: We’re going to fight for lower income earners because we know this: when you take $24 billion off the bottom line of the budget you can’t do it every year. Low income earners, no, let’s not say so much low income earners, middle income earners, the people who’ve been carrying this country - the nurses and the teachers and the truckies - they’re the ones who work their guts out and they’re getting $6.00 a week on top of the previous $4.00 so the last five years, from the Howard Government, they’ve had a $10.00 tax break while those on $150,000 have had a $120.00. It’s not good enough. We’ve got to fight for them. They will notice a $12.00 a week tax cut and we want to give it to them.

JOURNALIST: But you can’t win this fight. All they have to do is hold out until they take control of the Senate and they can do what they like. Why are you delaying this? Many people don’t get their advantages sooner.

BEAZLEY: No, the thing is here, as a journalist you’re part of the Fourth Estate and you should be on the side of the average Australian. The average Australian needs decent tax relief and they’re not going to get it from the Howard Government. It’s going to disappear on them immediately. Now, $6.00 week won’t even cover what’s happened to them with oil price rises in recent times. It

is minor compared to what doubling it would be. And when it comes on top of the fact that they’ve been dudded once before, well, there are several things you can do when you’re standing up there and fighting for them. You may or may not succeed now but I want to create a situation over the next couple of months, firstly where we succeed but if we don’t, the Howard Government never does something like this again.