Howard Says Hanson-Abbott Furore Has ‘Got Quite Out Of Proportion’

This is the transcript of a doorstop interview given by the Prime Minister, John Howard, in Sydney.

Transcript of John Howard doorstop interview.

JOURNALIST: Mr Howard, you said on Friday that your party had nothing to do with the Pauline Hanson fighting fund (inaudible)?

HOWARD: Well look can I just, I’ll come to the detailed questions in a minute but this whole thing has got quite out of proportion. No politician has been involved in any way with the criminal prosecution of Pauline Hanson. Peter Beattie wasn’t involved, Tony Abbott wasn’t, I wasn’t, Kim Beazley wasn’t, Simon Crean wasn’t. Pauline Hanson was prosecuted for a crime by the independent Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions and I think all of this suggestion coming from the Labor Party that in some way Mr Abbott was involved in the prosecution is an attempt to represent him as having something that he hasn’t been. So I just think everybody ought to take a shower and sort of calm down and get the thing back into perspective.

JOURNALIST: Why were you surprised at the sentence Pauline Hanson received?

HOWARD: Well I made a comment on the size of the sentence, and I don’t really have anything to add to that. People know my view on that and I don’t have anything to add to it. But I just want to emphasise that she was the subject of a criminal prosecution, Abbott had nothing to do with the criminal prosecution, neither did Beattie, I mean I want to make that clear, any suggestion that Mr Beattie had anything to do with the criminal prosecution is ludicrous as well. I just think we all should get a hold of the thing and keep the thing in perspective.

JOURNALIST: Abbott did mislead the public, so should he be sacked?

HOWARD: Look Abbott has answered for that and you go and talk to Abbott, he’s made a statement.

JOURNALIST: Mr Howard, when did you learn about the establishment of the anti-Hanson fund?

HOWARD: Well it was in the media five years ago. Look, it’s five years ago, I would have I guess become aware of it around about that time, but I can’t tell you exactly when, I mean I have hundreds of conversations with hundreds of people every week, to ask me to remember every conversation. But the important thing is that it was disclosed in the media in August of 1998 and he made no secret of it.

JOURNALIST: Are you happy with Ministers of your Government being involved in destabilising other parties like that?

HOWARD: Well it’s the job of the Liberal Party to politically attack other parties, there’s nothing wrong with that…

JOURNALIST: … setting up the fund…

HOWARD: Well look he was quite open about it, and one of the trustees of the fund is a former Labor Party Minister.

JOURNALIST: Has he mislead the public, do you think he has?

HOWARD: Well Mr Abbott says he didn’t, you have a look at his statement and I’ve always found Tony Abbott a very honest man.

JOURNALIST: Do you support his conduct on this matter?

HOWARD: Look Tony Abbott was open in his attacks on One Nation, One Nation was a political rival of ours and I don’t regard it as wrong of one of my colleagues to attack political rivals. But the core of the thing is that he wasn’t involved in her criminal prosecution, now that’s really end of story. She was convicted as a result of a prosecution bought by the Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions, not as a result of Tony Abbott establishing some kind of fund. I mean we’ve all lost sight of that and in the process people think he’s in some way responsible for things that he’s not responsible for.

Okay.

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