PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 22874

Doorstop 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: 02/08/2000

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 22874

Subjects: Interest rates; sex discrimination act.

E&OE……………………………………………………………………………………

JOURNALIST:

[Inaudible], are we returning to the bad old days of 17% inflation rates….interest rates?

PRIME MINISTER:

Clearly not.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think this morning’s rise is necessary?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well the Reserve Bank of Australia sets official interest rates independently of the government. The Governor made a statement. If you want some further elucidation as to the bank’s reasons then you should speak to the Governor.

JOURNALIST:

…..have gone up again?

PRIME MINISTER:

I never like to see interest rate rises, I don’t think anybody does. But the bank sets them officially and independently and I think you should talk to the Governor.

JOURNALIST:

It’s the fifth rate rise since November, [inaudible]

PRIME MINISTER:

Well everybody’s aware of the movements but these rates are set independently by the bank. And if you want a further explanation for the adjustment of interest rates, which was a decision of the Reserve Bank board taken yesterday, you should speak to the Governor of the bank. He’s the person who took the decision to lift the rates.

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible]

PRIME MINISTER:

I think I picked up some of that but if you are saying to me do I think the economy is still performing strongly – yes I do. It’s performing very strongly and that point was made in the Governor’s statement this morning.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Beazley’s blaming the interest rate rises on the GST. Are they GST…..?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well he blames everything on the GST doesn’t he. That’s his mantra. It’s like knowledge nation. It’s an easily employable mantra.

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible]

PRIME MINISTER:

I do stand by fully all of the comments I’ve made and I notice this morning that two Labor Party leaders – one a Premier, Mr Beattie, and another an Opposition Leader, Mr Gallop, have effectively told the federal Labor Party that it should support what I announced yesterday. Mr Gallop says that he supports the Western Australian legislation. The only way that you can keep the Western Australian legislation in place is to support our amendment otherwise the Western Australian legislation will go the same way as the Victorian legislation. And Mr Beattie has said that it should be left to the States. In one of the more muddled responses to this matter Mr Beattie attacked me and said it should be left to the States. What I’m doing and what the federal government proposes will in fact deliver that exact result – it will be left to the States. But if you don’t amend the Sex Discrimination Act then it won’t be left to the States. The State legislation will be overridden.

JOURNALIST:

What’s your [inaudible] ?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I don’t know. It’s too early to make that judgement. But what you do in public life is you consider something and you take a decision and you announce the decision and you explain why you’ve done it. You don’t sort of go out there with some kind of public opinion testing in advance. I mean we didn’t do any polling, we didn’t make any assessment other than what we thought was the right thing to do. And we certainly stand by it. There was overwhelming support in Cabinet. I believe there’ll be a lot of support, there’ll also be people who are critical. But in the end you have to do what you believe is the right thing. And what matters here more than anything else are the rights of children to enjoy an expectation other things being equal of both a mother and a father, and that is the foundation of the decision and nothing I’ve heard in the last 24 hours shakes my belief or the belief of the government that it was the right thing to do.

JOURNALIST:

Will you allow a conscience vote on this for Liberal Senators?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, there’s no need for a conscience vote on something like this. This is not effectively a conscience issue. I’d like to know what the Labor Party’s going to do. They seem to be in an extraordinary state of muddle on the subject. Jenny Macklin has said that she’s against it, Kim Beazley’s said the caucus is going to look at it, and Geoff Gallop and Peter Beattie both effectively want Beazley to back us. They’ve made that very plain. They mightn’t put it that way but that is the effect of what both of them have said. But we’ve taken a decision and we believe the decision is right and we’ll be putting forward the amendment.

JOURNALIST:

Do you plan to change any rules regarding the funding of IVF treatment?

PRIME MINISTER:

In what way?

JOURNALIST:

Well bring in any…..

PRIME MINISTER:

No we don’t have any such proposals at all under consideration.

JOURNALIST:

So you’re not considering distinguishing between medical infertility and……?

PRIME MINISTER:

The only thing that we have considered is what we announced. Thank you.

[Ends]

Transcript 22874