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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 10656


Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 14/08/1998

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 10656



John Howard, good morning to you.


Good morning Mike, nice to talk to you.


Nice to talk to you on a foggy morning I understand in Canberra

as you join us on your way to the airport.


Indeed, I am flying out of the fog into the light.


Well we played ‘Roll out the Barrel' because I

guess you did roll out the barrel for us yesterday and now it's

the morning after the night before. How are you feeling?


I am feeling very encouraged by the response. This is a long-term

plan to make the Australian economy stronger because it will make

our exports cheaper. It will allow our businesses to operate more

efficiently and that's got to be good for all of us. The main

reason for this tax reform plan is to further strengthen the Australian

economy. We've got the budget deficit fixed, we have got interest

rates down, we have generated 300,000 new jobs over the last two

and a half years. The next big thing to do to make the Australian

economy stronger and better is to fix the tax system and that's

what we believe this plan will do.


Most of us know the details of your package by now but how long

have you been working on it? When did John Howard first decide that

he wanted to reform the Australian taxation scheme?


Oh well I have wanted change in the Australian taxation system

for about 20 years but as Prime Minister I came to the decision

about the middle of last year that we had to commit ourselves to

a long range plan and lay it out in front of the public before the

next election.


Besides your own team there in Canberra of course, who were some

of the other people you consulted about what you would do. Did you

speak to your wife about what she....


I certainly...


....what a housewife would expect, did you speak to fellow Australians?


I did. I have done that all my political life and the message I

got from middle Australia was very simple. They know the present

system needs fundamental change, they want it done in an across

the board but fair way and they want some personal tax cuts so that

people will be reassured that the reform doesn't leave them

worse off. And that really has been the driving force behind the

design of this plan. People deep down know there is something wrong

with the present system and they do accept that it does need to

be changed but they also worry about change and they want to be

reassured along the path of change that they are not going to be

left worse off.


What do you say to lower income workers who have already been besieging

this radio station this morning with protest that compared to those

in middle to high wage brackets they will be worse off?


Well they are not. I mean Mike, if you are now on $20,000 a year

you can see that income rise to $50,000 a year without going into

a higher tax bracket. The uniform tax level, top level for people

between $20,000 and $50,000 a year will only be 30 per cent. It

is now a mixture of 34 per cent and 43 per cent. Those people are

not worse off proportionately, particularly if they have children,

they are the best-rewarded section of the community.


What do you say again to those who claim that by directing assistance

so heavily in the direction of single income families that you are

discouraging women from remaining in the workforce, do you want

Australian women back in that kitchen behind that white picket fence?


Well that is ridiculous, I don't. All I am doing in that area

is removing some of the tax bias against single income families.

If you have a combined income of $50,000 and that is out of two

incomes, you in aggregate pay less tax than one person on $50,000

because you have the benefit of two tax-free thresholds. And when

a mother or father gives up work when children come along they give

up the whole of that second income. And all I am seeking to do is

have a balance in this area because we are increasing the benefits

for all families with children, not just single income families.

Every child in Australia now will attract an additional tax benefit

for one or another of their parents and we are also making a further

adjustment in favour of single income families to remove that imbalance.

But it is not at the expense of the others. I am for choice about

what people do. I want to say to the parents of Australia: when

you have children, it should be your choice whether mum or dad stays

at home when the children are young and look after them. It should

be your choice at what stage the parent at home returns to the part-time

workforce and then to the full-time workforce, it should be a matter

of choice. And there are thousands and thousands of parents who

want greater choice in that area, they don't want the Government

to tell them whether they should be a single income or a two income

family. But I am not about sending people back to the kitchen or

the 1950s, I am about giving the men and women in Australia in the

1990s greater choice in relation to the caring arrangements for

their children. And that's just a piece of propaganda designed

to discredit the package, I am in favour of justice and choice.

I am not in favour of stereotypes for women.


I know you are racing to get that plane and I might put one more

to you if I can Mr Howard. What promise can you make that the game

plan won't change if we re-elect you now? Are these tax cuts

and all the other goodies you are offering us today, are they in

the words of your predecessor L-A-W?


Well we will put them all through after the election if we get

elected and we can't put it through before the election because

the Opposition has said it's against it and we won't get

it through the Senate. But, of course, the plan will remain. This

will be the major issue in the election campaign, it won't

be the only issue, but it will be the major issue and, of course,

it is a very attractive plan. It has got a tax rebate for private

health insurance. Anybody will be able to get back 30 per cent of

the cost of their private health insurance and that is going to

boost support for the health system. But it's a plan that we

are committed to, we are going to deliver. We will be saying to

the Australian public, whenever the election is, we would like your

support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate because

this is more than just a tax cut. It's more than a GST, it's

more than a health insurance rebate. It's more than a reduction

in the cost of diesel fuel. It is an overall plan to make Australia

stronger and better and better able to withstand the impact of what

is happening in Asia. And that is why it is so important to the

future of our country.


Well thank you for joining us this morning and I know as the fog

lifts over Canberra you trust that the fog is now about to lift

over the Australian taxation system after many years. Have a safe



Thank you very much Mike.


Transcript 10656