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John Howard dissolved by 7:30 Report

with 2 comments

Thanks so much David Obendorf for pointing this out!!

Kerry O’Brien, one of Australia’s most credible and respected television interviewers, conducted this 30-minute long interview with Prime Minister John Howard last night (transcript & streaming video available).

Forget gold! Absolute platinum!!

Howard is no longer content to revise Australia’s cultural history – his version is, of course, that the Aborigines happily handed the entire country to Donald Bradman before catching an unfortunate cold and dying out through no fault of the White Australia Policy.

His new position is that the only economic reforms that have helped the Australian economy have been made by – guess who – John Howard. Deapite common wisdom, he has somehow determined that the economic reforms made under 14 years of Hawke and Keating actually have nothing to do with the health of the Australian economy….. !!

JOHN HOWARD: The reason productivity was rising when we came into office was we were coming off the back of a recession.

KERRY O’BRIEN: But the recession had ended five years before.

JOHN HOWARD: Hang on, the impact on employment of the recession was still there when we came into office. Unemployment was 8.2 per cent and you always get, when you’re coming out of a recession, you always get some lift in productivity because you’re coming off a very high level of unemployment. As unemployment begins to fall you get boosts in productivity – I mean that is actually a mattock. It had nothing to do…

KERRY O’BRIEN: Nothing to do with Labor’s reforms?

JOHN HOWARD: No it didn’t because if you go back to that period you will find the number of non-union agreements that were allowed when negotiated was minuscule and if you have a truly free system you will allow non-union agreements and you will allow individual agreements. We don’t object to union agreements, we’re in favour of them, but we also believe that people should have the choice, if they so desire, to go into individual agreements and to go into non-union collective agreements and you didn’t have many of those in the Keating/Brereton reforms which I remember extremely well. I think it is one of the great furphies of this industrial relations debate that enterprise bargaining was introduced by Mr Keating.

KERRY O’BRIEN: You’re serious about that?

JOHN HOWARD: I am serious about that, yes.

Howard finally got grilled about The Australian’s media bias – but check how he basically ignores the observation.

KERRY O’BRIEN: We’ll move on. The Australian’s political editor Dennis Shanahan has been one of your most consistent supporters within the press gallery for years. Even he today wrote about your campaign “It’s an old fashioned scare campaign and it’s about the only shot in the locker for the Coalition but it’s worked before and that’s what gives them hope.” He’s one of your big fans in the gallery and it does sound rather desperate, doesn’t it?

JOHN HOWARD: I don’t agree with that. Let me say this about the campaign. Let me say this, I think there are some people, and there would be some people watching this program, who have this frame of mind at the moment. They’re saying to themselves, Howard hasn’t done a bad job, don’t agree with everything he’s done but the economy is in very good shape and he’s looked after national security but gee, he’s been there a while and maybe it’s time for a change. I think there are a number of people in that frame of mind and can I just say to them that there’s no such thing as a changeless change of government, if I can explain that. There’s no such thing as changing the government without changing the circumstances of the country. And this idea that you may be able to change just for the sake of change but everything go on exactly the same is not right. There is a risk involved and I would say to people who think that we may have done a good job and their only reason for changing is to sort of experiment with change believe me there is a risk, there is a risk in Mr Rudd, there is a risk in having for the first time in Australia’s history Labor governments at every level. That’s not a scare campaign, that’s a statement of fact. There is cross checking

KERRY O’BRIEN: You do put the scare on it though, don’t you? You put it at its worst possible connotation.

JOHN HOWARD: Well, I’m stating the fact. We’ve never before had that and you do have checks and balances within a federation if you have a different complexion at the national level and we won’t have that.

KERRY O’BRIEN: And you will also have a Senate in which Labor cannot and will not have control.

JOHN HOWARD: Well, if we lose the House, we won’t control the Senate.

KERRY O’BRIEN: No, but there will be a balance. Do you acknowledge that Labor can’t win control of the Senate?

JOHN HOWARD: They don’t need it because they’ve got the Greens. Well I mean look at what happened in the New South Wales upper house, the Greens and Labor combined to suppress the full story as to whether George Newhouse is eligible to run against Malcolm Turnbull.

Nuclear power, government secrecy, government lies, industrial relations and the risk of further reforms, climate change, education, government spending – HUGE interview. This is very much one of the most diligent current affairs hosts in the country taking a sustained last crack at a Prime Minister he thinks will be gone in 4 days. Massive.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Very briefly, the latest figures from your department about how much your Government has spent on advertising over the years of your Government, $1.55 billion, nearly $500 million in the last two financial years, $500 million in two years of advertising, a staggering amount of money. I know you say it’s for things like defence recruiting but it was also for controversial policies like Work Choices – an estimated $120 million at least there. Are you really suggesting none of that was designed to make the Government look good at the taxpayer’s expense?

JOHN HOWARD: But Kerry, you are entitled when you bring in a new policy like taxation, superannuation reform where everybody over the age of 60 no longer pays tax on their superannuation and all sorts of other intended benefits. Surely we are entitled as a government to explain.

KERRY O’BRIEN: $500 million in two years, no precedent for that.

JOHN HOWARD: Well Kerry, we have been in office for a period of 11 and a half years and we’ve also introduced some major reforms. If we had been a lazy reform-less Government then maybe we would have spent less on advertising but the economy wouldn’t be growing at more than 4 per cent and you wouldn’t have a 33 year low in unemployment. I mean judge us by the central things that you judge a government by. I mean the greatest…

KERRY O’BRIEN: One of the things you would judge a government by would ethics, I would have thought.

Pretty much an essential half hour for anybody interested in Australian politics, the nature of the decline in Australian democracy over the last few years, investigative journalism, or verbal sparring. Thankyou Kerry!! My friend suggests that if the current government is returned, the first bill they put through shall be to privatise the ABC. I’m sure I’m not alone in dreading such an outcome.


2 Responses

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  1. Yeah, the kind of interview that the MSM can only conduct when it’s patently obvious that the emperor has no clothes – still credit to O’Brien anyway, it still takes courage to ask about the obvious in Australia.


    November 21, 2007 at 12:15 pm

  2. A qualitatively different interview than anything the commercial networks can muster. Also check out Kerry’s interview with Rudd.

    t.i.n.a.: thx for pointing that one out. O’Brien pokes and prods but Rudd stays mostly in his ‘on-message’ mode. His address to the Press Club the other day was excellent because he was spontaneous, present, and direct. This is the mode in which he’s best and I think we’ll see more of that in the years to come. Julia Gillard is also excellent in public forums, outstanding actually.

    Illusive Mind

    November 22, 2007 at 2:49 pm

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