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Transcript 12464

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP DOOSTOP INTERVIEW, 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: 10/10/2002

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 12464

Subjects: Unemployment figures; drought; ethanol; internet gambling

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

JOURNALIST:

[Inaudible] unemployment figures?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think they're still very encouraging. Obviously there had to be some adjustment after the huge surge last month but when you bear in mind that the forward indicators, such as the ANZ series, are still very strong I think the figures remain very encouraging. I always like to see unemployment lower but when you bear in mind that we still have some rigidities in the labour market that the Senate won't let us remove - and I mean the unfair dismissal laws - we're not doing too badly.

JOURNALIST:

A call for a national plan for drought assistance - Simon Crean's been calling for one today, what do you think of that?

PRIME MINISTER:

He must be joking. We already have a scheme that involves extensive collaboration between the Commonwealth and the States, it's called Exceptional Circumstances, and it's a scheme that built on one that was in operation when he was in Government. Already we're committed to spending about $75 million this year under that scheme. If the drought is anything like the droughts of the '80s or '90s the amount will probably treble. On top of that the Farm Management Deposit scheme, which encourages farmers to put money in with a tax advantage in a good year and draw it out in a bad year, which they're obviously in now, that is worth about $400 to $500 million on latest calculations this financial year alone to farmers that have taken advantage of it.

I want to make it clear that this drought is not an occasion for political point scoring. I stand ready to cooperate with all State Premiers to work together to help the men and women on the land. And I say to the Labor Party, don't political point score on something like this, find something else that doesn't affect people's livelihoods because your political point scoring is wrong, it's not based on fact and, quite frankly, it's not appreciated by the Australian people.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard, you said you'd wait until a scientific inquiry before moving on ethanol limits. Is that…should something be done in the interim given that manufacturers have suggested warranties could be voided by levels of ethanol?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I think the sensible thing is to wait on the advice of experts and that's what I';m doing. I';m not a scientist and I';m seeking the advice of Environment Australia and Environment Australia is carrying out a study and if that study recommends that we impose a cap then we will. But everybody in situations like this should be guided by the views of experts. People speak from self-interest and I understand that and that's why you need independent experts to give you advice.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard, Reverend Costello's written to you about the time it's taking for a national gambling strategy. Do you have anything to say back to him?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I haven't seen his letter so I don't know what he said. I remind Reverend Costello that I';m the first Prime Minister to try and do things about a national strategy. We did introduce very significant limitations on electronic and Internet gambling, we did. I mean, that's part of the strategy and in the end we don't have as much power over gambling as do the States. The States are the main beneficiaries of gambling revenue and in the end they are the people to whom many of these concerns should be expressed. But Reverend Costello is quite aware of my scornful views about excessive gambling. I'll read his letter and if I've got anything further to say after I've read his letter I will but I haven't seen it yet.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard, what's your response to the CIA [inaudible]

PRIME MINISTER:

Sorry, I can't hear that.

JOURNALIST:

The CIA's suggestion that a US attack on Iraq could provoke Saddam Hussein to use…

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh, I think you're just taking one part of that CIA comment. You have to look at the whole thing in context and when it's looked in context there's no inconsistency with what the Administration is saying. Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript 12464