PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 9590


Photo of Keating, Paul

Keating, Paul

Period of Service: 20/12/1991 to 11/03/1996

More information about Keating, Paul on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/05/1995

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 9590

PM: As you know, I am in Adelaide to talk about the Budget and the value
of the changes it brings to the economy and also to make a couple of
important announcements for Australia. One is the building of the
road, the Mount Barker road, and the other is the extension of
Adelaide airport. Now, you know that the Mount Barker road has been
a real problem for people travelling in this state, particularly travelling
to Victoria. It is a problem, of course, for heavy vehicles, it is a
problem for safety and the Commonwealth under its capital programs,
that is the National Highway funding program, in the Budget we
extended it by $ 835 million a year for three years or $ 2.5 billion. That
is what gives us the capacity to do this and we will build a $ 130 million
road through the hills with a tunnel about half a kilometre long, a six
lane dual carriageway highway back out to, I think is it around the
periphery of the city there. This will come just as in two weeks time we
will be launching the One Nation train. This is in the One Nation
project where we built the standard gauge railway across from
Melbourne to Adelaide, so there will be a time soon where you will be
able to travel from Brisbane to Perth via Melbourne and Adelaide on a
single standard gauge. That will be important for the transport corridor
of South Australia coming through into Victoria.
So, you will have these two things. A better road corridor between
South Australia and Victoria and the rest of the country and for the first
time ever an historic change to the rail system where that transport
corridor will be improved in rail as well as road.
The other thing that I am announcing today is that, you know that I
have had quite long and detailed discussions with Mike Rann about
the extension of Adelaide airport and you will recall the motion he
sponsored at the Labor Party Conference. The Government is giving
expression to that commitment at the Conference today, by
announcing that we will begin the site preparation, that is the
engineering design work, and the environmental assessments to begin

the extension of Adelaide airport. In other words, we will build the
extension of Adelaide airport before the Government sells the airport
because we think it is important to get it down and this too will join the
road and rail corridor as an important improvement to the transport
access to South Australia by air, both domestically and internationally.
So, these are very big changes which, in a sense, could only be done
by the National Government and, I think, they will be important for
South Australia in terms of air carriage, air transport, linkages into Asia
and domestically and that important national linkage by road and by
rail back to South Australia and to the rest of the country.
Can I say, this comes as part of the Budget and the Budget is good for
Australia in many respects, but it is particularly good for South
J: Mr Keating, you mentioned that you would like to start these projects
( inaudible)...
PM: The Mount Barker road, they will start buying land immediately for that.
We will probably turn the first sod sometime next year and about two
and a half years after that, it should be completed. But, it is going to
be a six lane dual carriageway highway and those six lanes will run
through a half mile tunnel, through the hills. So, it will be quite a
dramatic change.
J: Mr Keating, you said that these are big changes for South Australia.
and in fact changes which South Australians have been asking for for
many years, why have you decided to announce it at this particular
PM: Well, they have come up, the One Nation change comes up from 1992
with the standard gauge. The National Highway program is something
that has come up in the development of the extension of that program.
We have these national projects be they in Queensland or New South
Wales or South Australia set at particular times. In the past we used
to provide this money to the States which was then fragmented and, I
think, under that road program South Australia used to receive
something like $ 50 million. Well, you can't do this with $ 50 million. It
needs a much bigger amount of money, so it needs a national program
and it has come up in this cycle now. But, the same with the airport,
you know that we discussed this at our national conference. I have
had a number of discussions with Mike Rann about it, I have had some
discussions with the Premier about it. I had a long discussion today
with Mike Rann about both projects and again we think this is the time,
given the interest in Asia in South Australia, these potential linkages
between South Australia and the rest of the country in Asia, now is the
time. So, they have come up and I won't say in a routine way, but they
have come up in a way which certainly suits South Australia.
J: election promises ( inaudible)

PM: Yes, but only a silly person would say that because they have been in
the pipe for months and in the case of the train a couple of years. So,
let's not trivialise things. You get this argument sometimes in South
Australia ' well, we don't have enough done for us' and when something
happens you say ' oh, it is only a gift because of an election'. I mean,
look, I spent $ 600 million here, Commonwealth money, trying to relieve
the State Bank problem on the people of South Australia and now we
are doing these major projects that have got nothing to do what so
ever with elections which are not in offer anyway.
J: Prime Minister, what have you done for students considering that two
months ago you said to me at GleneIg ' go and get a job'. I would like
you to justify if you are going to cut $ 1.2 billion from Working Nation,
you have also
PM: Do you want a question or give a speech?
J: I want to ask you a question. Mr Keating, you never once addressed
the issue of post graduate spending to students on the cap
PM: Ok, the complaint was against HECS and undergraduate fees and I
made it very clear.
J: ( inaudible)..
PM: It was against full fees and I said very clearly at the time, the Labor
party would not support fees and we haven't supported fees in the
Budget. All the huffing and puffing turned to nothing because in the
Budget there were no fees.
J: ( inaudible)...
PM: Hang on, excuse me, you have asked a question and I will answer it.
The other thing is with HECS we have got the most democratic and
useful scheme where we ask students now to subscribe 23 per cent
only of the cost of a course. We recover it from them only when they
start to earn at average weekly earnings and every dollar, every cent,
goes back into university places. The Commonwealth spent $ 3 billion
on extra university places for Australian students in the last five years,
$ 1500 million of that has come from the returns from HECS. So, there
is about 100,000 students out there now who wouldn't have a
university place without HECS. Now, the Government does not
support full fees and I have made that clear and the Budget, of course,
makes it clear. As far as post graduate fees are concerned, we are
keeping an eye on post graduate fees. But again, this is a matter
which goes to the autonomous administration of universities and there
is now much greater autonomy in university administration than in the
past. So, the only party in this country that wants to impose full fees
on undergraduates is the Liberal party. At the last election the Liberal

party was running around saying it is full fees and if your parents are
strong enough, financially, to be able to cover full fees that's fine. If
not, well then, of course, a person with a lot of educational attainments
and capacity just wouldn't be in that position.
J: Prime Minister, speaking about the Liberal party, what is your reaction
to Senator Alston's claims in the question of Conrad Black?
PM: That is a complete furPhy and why are they saying it today? They are
saying it today because Mr Connolly has spat the dummy. He is very
unhappy about having been dropped for an opportunist, he is now
saying that Senator Watson, the other person interested in
superannuation, is under threat from Mr Gray, the former Premier Gray
and Dr Shephard were both supporters of the Joh for Canberra
campaign. John Howard believes they cost him the 1987 election. So
there is a great schism at the moment inside the Liberal party about
the fact that Mr Filing in Western Australia had been removed, Mr
Rocher, now Mr Connolly, Mr Watson is under threat and the day's
smoke screen is some conversation I'm supposed to have had with
John Fairfax and Sons. The only party that offered Mr Black 50 per
cent ownership of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age is the
Liberal party. John Hewson offered it to him about two years ago. I
have never discussed any such thing with him.
J: The Opposition has ( inaudible)
PM: Who cares whether ( inaudible)
J: Richard Alston has three different sources...
PM: Oh God! they are as silly as a piece of string the three of them. You
couldn't trust them out of your sight. Poor old Howard, his nerves are
going. The Budget has cracked him. He is in a terrible state, he is
following me around radio stations, he must sit in his office dialling
them up as I leave them.
J: Have you been defamed by Senator Alston?
PM: I don't think he has defamed me, he just made another unsubstantiated
J: Prime Minister, there has also been a group of pregnant mums
downstairs, stay at home mums who say they have been
disadvantaged by the budget.
PM: No, that is not true. We pay the home child care allowance to women
at home, but we pay support for child care for expenses incurred. In
other words if you have a child or two children in child care we will
refund you about, an upper limit of $ 60 a week. But, you have got to
incur the expense, do you understand. Whereas we pay the home

child care allowance without any expense. We pay that as a right to
women at home therefore that this idea that we are paying twice as
much to women with children in child care as we pay to women at
home is just not true because the payment to the women at home is
not in satisfaction of any expense. The other payment is the payment
in satisfaction of the expense. So, if you have one child in child care
you get $ 30 support from the Commonwealth, but you have got to have
the expense. But, if you are at home with children, you get the
regardless of the expense.
J: inaudible
PM: But, it is not just pregnant mothers. It is mothers who have a
particularly ideological view of the world and we are the only party
supporting through the home child care allowance and the parenting
allowance direct payments to women and they are getting those
payments, but so too are women who have the expense of child care.
J: Mr Keating, did you make that call complaining about
PM: No, I said the answer to that is no.
J: But did you complain?
PM: Look, the inventions that the Liberal party make up are just
unbelievable. Go and ask them what Mr Connolly has got to think
about Mr Nelson. I made the point yesterday, the Liberal party is like a
club, you join at the door, if you want a safe seat they just let you in.
And Mr Nelson's great claim to fame, Dr Nelson, was that he was in
the Labor party for 17 years and there was that letter in today's press
which I thought was quite interesting that came from John Valder who
was a former President of the Liberal party saying, It is not every
day the Liberal party preselection winner has proclaimed, by loudhailer,
no less, that he has never voted Liberal in his life only to turn
around and say that was just a convenient lie at the time. Help! One
thing I thought Liberal party MPs still had was a bit of personal
integrity. David Connolly may not have known when it was his time to
go, but this is almost enough to make an old Liberal party president
vote Labor'. Signed John Valder. Thank you.

Transcript 9590