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Transcript 22819

Interview with Howard Sattler, Radio 2SM

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: 30/06/2000

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 22819

Subjects: Tax reform

E & OE…………………………………………………………………………………

SATTLER:

Hi Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks for that.

SATTLER:

That’s all right.

PRIME MINISTER:

What are you going to do for an encore?

SATTLER:

I don’t know. But that’s the fact isn’t it? It has been from political stocks point of view, a nightmare during the past few weeks. Did you predict that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes I did.

SATTLER:

You thought it would be as bad as that.

PRIME MINISTER:

We are in the easy hit stage. And the Opposition can make…I mean you talked about the bottleshop yesterday. I didn’t go there expecting it to be, you know to try and prove it was cheaper.

SATTLER:

But you thought it was for a while.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I looked at the dockets and what was written on the dockets. I mean the reality is that the pre and post GST prices was only $1.40 dearer, when you take in to account the tax cuts, they’re a mile in front and on top of that the bloke who runs the bottleshop said he was not going to increase his prices. Anyway, look, this thing will take some weeks, perhaps months for people to finally assess and I don’t think you can really make a judgement on it for probably about six months. I think by Christmas people would have made up their mind whether they think it’s a good thing or a bad thing or a middling thing.

SATTLER:

Are there more hiccups along the way until then?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh look, I think there are bound to be hiccups but once again, can we sort of stop thinking that World War III has broken out. I mean you had a hacker, I mean hackers, GST didn’t invent hackers and I mean they have been around for a long time and that’s very unfortunate and we are doing something about it.

SATTLER:

Yeah, you are after his blood now, but I mean…

PRIME MINISTER:

No, hang on, hang on. Instead of sort of condemning the illegality of hacking, what does the Labor Party do? They say well this is another example of how botched the GST is. I mean that is a ridiculous claim and the glitch, I mean there is a glitch, I admitted it in relation to the childcare benefits. It is being fixed and nobody will lose a dollar. Nobody will lose a cent. The will get all their benefits, they will get all their entitlements. I mean these things happen.

SATTLER:

Shouldn’t you also be going after the person that allowed that hacker to get in. I mean there was a flaw in the system. Should..

PRIME MINISTER:

Well you don’t expect me to, I mean the Police are investigating it.

SATTLER:

No, but someone should be investigating it too.

PRIME MINISTER:

Hang on, hang on. I don’t…look, come Howard, be reasonable. The Police are investigating the whole matter, I am not saying any more and I can’t and I shouldn’t.

SATTLER:

All right well you resorted to an appeal to nationalism and that’s the Aussie fair go. That’s heart thumping stuff, but at the end of the day, it’s a hip pocket issue isn’t it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh it’s a hip pocket issue, but it’s also a national interest issue. It is, there are a lot of people who take the view that even if something doesn’t necessarily make them better off, that it is good for the country then they should go along with it. It’s a combination of the two and what I am asking people to do is to see tax reform as an aggregate thing. It’s not just a GST, it’s also personal tax cuts. It’s also giving the States a secure revenue base, something they’ve begged for for 50 years and they have now got it and they will have a greater guarantee that they can provide the money for the schools and the roads and the police and the hospitals than they have at the present time.

SATTLER:

Have you been angered that a number of the coalition’s traditional allays, particularly the big business area have been amongst your most vociferous critics?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, no I haven’t. I know that has been suggested somewhere. I think business by and large has been very good on this. I think they’ve seen the benefit, they have put a lot of work into getting ready and particularly small business. But I am not going to agree with business on everything.

SATTLER:

They usually agree with you.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well no, not always. They have been critical of me on some things. But I am not owned by anybody. I mean one of the good things about being a liberal Prime Minister of this country is that you are not owned by the unions, you are not owned by business, I mean everybody is entitled to have a go, but at the end of the day your listeners are going to make a judgement about this. Your listeners are going to say to me and everybody else, well okay, we’ve heard you, leave us alone, we will make up our own mind and they will. They’ll make up their own mind over the months ahead.

SATTLER:

Do you think that some people in business have shafted you over petrol prices?

PRIME MINISTER:

We believe there are cost savings. We want them passed on and we will just see what happens in the days ahead at the bowser but the whole GST reform is built in part on there being cost savings from the removal of existing taxes and you know everybody is under an obligation in our view, and not just oil companies but others, to pass their savings on and many of the companies will. I mean I saw an ad that Woolies will. What they were saying in that ad this morning was that the basket used by Choice Magazine, the Australian Consumers Association having 32 items people normally buy for their daily living, that will actually go down, go down in price.

SATTLER:

The Woolies, the petrol side of it’s been a pretty good marketing ploy, they’re trying to make an…

PRIME MINISTER:

Well good luck to them, good luck to them. In the end you know, Howard the prices are going to be governed more by competition and market forces than anything else.

SATTLER:

How much do you blame the Democrats for the criticism you’ve copped because your supporters have been ringing this programme saying, well look you don’t like the package he’s put up in toto, blame the Democrats. I mean how much better would it have been if we’d got the across the board 10 per cent.

PRIME MINISTER:

Look Howard, that is what we took to the public, we would have preferred that. I would have much rather the Democrats and the Labor Party and Senator Harradine accept the verdict of the Australian people, but they didn’t. I mean the Labor Party has just sort of played nark on this the whole way.

SATTLER:

Well that’s what Oppositions do.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well sometimes they do. We didn’t play nark when Bob Hawke and Paul Keating deregulated the financial system. We didn’t play nark when they wanted to privatise the Commonwealth Bank. We didn’t play nark when they wanted to make tariff changes. We haven’t always done that in Opposition and many of the changes they got through, they would have never been able to get through without a positive opposition. Anyway, that’s history and I don’t expect anybody to…

SATTLER:

Do you agree that 10 per cent across the board would have been miles better than what we have got now..

PRIME MINISTER:

Look Howard, I would have preferred what we put to the public, but we couldn’t get that through and we settled for something that is 85 to 90 per cent of what we want…

SATTLER:

Or something less.

PRIME MINISTER:

But what…I was meant to abandon the whole thing.

SATTLER:

I thought politically you should have.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I think you are wrong. Sorry, I think politically that would have been a stupid call for me to have taken. People would have said, well you know, the take out would have been, he’s lost the whole lot. He’s hopeless.

SATTLER:

No they stop him.

PRIME MINISTER:

No, no they wouldn’t. Anyway now that’s history now.

SATTLER:

As far as that’s concerned, if you thought that was better, will you give it another go?

PRIME MINISTER:

What do you mean?

SATTLER:

A hundred per cent across the board.

PRIME MINISTER:

No, no, this is it. I am not revisiting, no look, come on. The Australian public, they will be getting a big change tomorrow, hugely beneficial change and this is it. They don’t want more change…

SATTLER:

Don’t they?

PRIME MINISTER:

Beg your pardon?

SATTLER:

Don’t they? Why wouldn’t you have had a crack in the future of being..

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh well I tell you what because I think I think this change, I mean once you make some changes, you’ve then got to make other changes and you just don’t go back and I am not going back, I don’t want anybody to be left in any doubt about that.

SATTLER:

Yeah but I have heard you say before we are not even going to have a GST because…

PRIME MINISTER:

..yeah but I changed my position on that and I took it to the public.

SATTLER:

Why not take it across the board?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I am telling you right now, I don’t want anybody to have any doubt I am not doing that?

SATTLER:

Definitely?

PRIME MINISTER:

Definitely. I think, look I don’t think the public want to revisit it. I mean this is a huge change and the idea that we should revisit it, is just absurd.

SATTLER:

Is John Howard personally and his family going to be better off under this system?

PRIME MINISTER:

I haven’t the faintest idea, I am not interested in myself.

SATTLER:

But all of us have been calculating individually. You’ve been running ads saying this family will be better off…

PRIME MINISTER:

You are asking me, you are asking me about my family.

SATTLER:

Your budget.

PRIME MINISTER:

I haven’t done any calculations. I am interested in other people. I am by community standards, I have a good income, I am not the least bit concerned about my own position. This thing wasn’t calculated having any regard to my position, I mean…I haven’t done it, I just haven’t got time to do that.

SATTLER:

You don’t do the shopping anyway do you?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well not a lot of it. I am interested in the household budgets of your listeners, that’s what I’m interested in.

SATTLER:

Okay, so you reckon we will know in about six months time whether we will be better off.

PRIME MINISTER:

I think people will make a final judgement, I think in six months time, people will be able to make a final judgement. Some people might come to an earlier conclusion, everybody’s different. But I think by Christmas there will be a community take out on this, plus, minus or about 50/50 and I reckon it will be a plus.

SATTLER:

All right and the polls will revert then?

PRIME MINISTER:

I haven’t the faintest idea what the polls will do.

SATTLER:

But you hope they will?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well no, look there’s only one poll, to use a Malcolm Fraser..

SATTLER:

Oh here we go.

PRIME MINISTER:

There is only one poll that counts. Well it’s true you know.

SATTLER:

Yeah, sometime near the end of next year.

PRIME MINISTER:

Some time near the end of next year and I reckon it will be hard to pick and I think it will depend a lot on the campaign. But I thought the polls would go bad for us and I think they will stay bad for us for several months, that would be my prediction.

SATTLER:

I appreciate your time.

PRIME MINISTER:

Okay.

SATTLER:

Thanks for joining us.

PRIME MINISTER:

See you, bye.

[ends]

Transcript 22819