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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 11761

Doorstop Interview, Eastwood Public School, Sydney

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: 10/11/2001

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 11761

Subject(s): federal election

E&OE……………………………………………………………………………………

JOURNALIST:

Are you feeling optimistic about the polls this morning?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh I’m cautiously hopeful but funny things happen in elections and I still feel that it will go down to the wire.

JOURNALIST:

They’re pretty good polls aren’t they Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes Tom but I’ve known good polls before on the morning of elections and the result to be different. Victoria is a good example of that.

JOURNALIST:

What’s the plan for the rest of the day for you? Will you be campaigning, still campaigning…

PRIME MINISTER:

I’ll be moving around my electorate thanking the people who are working for me and saying hello to voters and I never miss the opportunity of campaigning right till the very end because you never know how close it will be.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister there’s no doubt that the boat people issue has been the big issue of the campaign, this morning in the New York Times the journalist has described you and Mr Beazley as wanting to pursue white policies. Is that journalist…

PRIME MINISTER:

Wanting to pursue what?

JOURNALIST:

White policies to keep Australia white.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that’s ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. Look around you, you think I’m in favour of that sort of policy? I mean that is an absurd, written only by somebody who doesn’t understand this country. And that sort of remark is I think offensive to Australia, forget politics.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister are you surprised that the international media is taking a keen interest in (inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I’m not surprised at all, Australia is a country of influence above its population. We’ve taken a leadership role on issues such as East Timor, we are a strong supporter of the coalition against terrorism. We have a very strong record in taking people from different parts of the world, we’re not seen as an insular country, that’s one of the reasons why people are taking an interest.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard, how do you think the Coalition’s going to fare in marginal seats?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I hope we win the bulk of it, I don’t know.

JOURNALIST:

What do you think will be the decider though for people? Do you think…

PRIME MINISTER:

It will always Sarah be a combination of things. It’s a big mistake for people to assume that economic management is not a big issue, it is. People are very happy with low interest rates and at a time of economic difficulty I believe they are more likely to go for a party and for a Prime Minister who’s delivered those results.   I mean it’s a pretty dramatic thing, the average mortgage now is $500 or more cheaper than it was five and a half years ago because the average mortgage is now almost $150,000. And that is a huge thing for average families and to small businesses and to farmers. I think it’s a very significant influence and I think it’s something a lot of people in marginal seats pay a lot of regard to.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister win or lose today are you expecting to take a break next week?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes.

JOURNALIST:

What have you…

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I don’t know that I want to disclose it, I might be pursed. But I would like to have a little bit of time off, it’s been a very active period but that will depend a little on the verdict of my fellow Australians. Here I am in completely suspended animation, not knowing what the future holds and isn’t that good. I mean it’s a tremendous exercise in democracy.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think there’ll be a result by the end of tonight?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don’t know, depends how close it is.

JOURNALIST:

Have you packed up any bits of the office just in case?

PRIME MINISTER:

No the time to do that is when you know you have to do so. I’m not holding anything back, I don’t know what the result is going to be and like any other person in my position it is a period of waiting and a certain degree of nervous anticipation. I just don’t know but it’s democracy and the Australian people will decide my fate and whatever decision they take I will accept.

JOURNALIST:

Has this been the toughest election campaign that you’ve fought do you think?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, it has been because I’ve had also to continue to discharge my responsibilities as Prime Minister in very important and challenging economic times. So in a sense I’ve had two roles, I’ve been the leader of the government party in an election campaign and I’ve been the Prime Minister.

JOURNALIST:

So this is the toughest campaign since you’ve been Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, it’s been, it was tougher than ’98 for the reason I’ve just outlined. In some respects 1987 was the toughest election campaign I’ve had as a leader but there were complicating factors there which I think I’ve almost forgotten about.

JOURNALIST:

Good to have the family out campaigning?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh they’re very good, they’re wonderful. I’ve got my eldest son is in London….

JOURNALIST:

Is he voting?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh yes, he’s already done so. And Sarah will be interested to know he’ll be taking, following the ABC’s election coverage online.

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript 11761