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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 11947

Television Interview - Ten Morning News

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: 23/05/2001

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 11947

Subjects: federal budget

E&OE................................

PRESENTER:

Mr Howard, is this a cynical exercise to buy the grey vote?

PRIME MINISTER:

No. It's a budget that is economically responsible but does deliver benefits to a section of the community that's given to so much to the building of the nation we have now. I am amazed that Mr Beazley and Mr Crean and Mr Swan should attack a government for helping older Australians. It's after all the older section of the population that's carried the heat and burden of the day and delivered to us the kind of nation we have at the present time. I noted Young Labor described it as an "old fogies" budget. Well that is an insult to a large slice of the Australian population that ought to be honoured, not treated with such contemptuous language.

PRESENTER:

Are those concessions for retirees though an admission that your government hasn't adequately compensated for the GST?

PRIME MINISTER:

No. One of the reasons why I wanted to help self-funded retirees is that I know that while low interest rates are fantastic for young homebuyers and they're $300 a month better off now than when Labor was in office because of low interest rates, and low rates are fantastic for small business and they benefit enormously. For self-funded retirees living on fixed interest investments, or fixed investments rather, low interest rates are certainly not the welcome news they are for the rest of the community and that's one of the reasons why I believe we should have given them the sort of assistance that was delivered last night.

PRESENTER:

Now the Opposition says there's nothing in the budget for struggling families.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well they didn't do much for struggling families. They gave them 17% interest rates, 11% unemployment and $96 billion of government debt. The greatest thing that my government has done for Australian families is to cut home mortgage interest rates. They are the lowest for 30 years and they are on an average mortgage $300 a month lower than what they were when Labor left office. On top of that those families are enjoying the benefits of the tax cuts. And of course all the other initiatives - the $900 million going into health. I mean there are 2 million Australians affected by asthma, there are millions of Australians affected by diabetes, cancer touches just about every Australian family at some stage in their experience, mental illness is a growing problem. Now we have put hundreds of millions of dollars into providing extra help in these areas. All of that is of benefit to Australian families. I think the Labor Party has got too narrow a concept of what is required in order to assist Australian families. You've got to take a broader approach to the assistance you deliver to Australian families.

PRESENTER:

Mr Howard, on the budget surplus of $1.5 billion, can you guarantee that will still be there at the end of the year after the mid-year economic review?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it was based on Treasury advice. We didn't make it up in the Prime Minister's Office as Mr Keating used to do with some of his economic statements. It was based on Treasury advice and we have no reason to doubt that advice.

PRESENTER:

Mr Howard, finally, can you rule out an early election, a snap poll?

PRIME MINISTER:

My current intention is to go at the end of the year when the election is due and I don't know..

PRESENTER:

But can you rule out a snap poll Mr Howard?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I can only tell you the truth and that is that my current intention is to go at the end of the year and I really think the public's getting tired of all these questions about early elections. We have a lot of governing to do, we have a lot of other things to do. We have a lot of other attitudes to disclose and future intentions to talk about between now and the election. And I see no reason to alter anything I've previously said and that means my current intention is to have the election when it is due at the end of the year.

[ends]

Transcript 11947