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John Howard Calls Pauline Hanson ‘Deranged’

The Prime Minister, John Howard, says Pauline Hanson’s speech last night, in which she commented on Aboriginal Australians, “verges on the deranged”.

Howard was responding to Hanson’s claims that Aborigines receive preferential treatment in government funding.

He was interviewed on Radio National by Fran Kelly.

Transcript of John Howard’s interview with Fran Kelly on Radio National.

KELLY: Prime Minister, Pauline Hanson has again accused Aboriginal Australians of getting preferential treatment in Government funding. She says she’ll campaign against the existence of native title and she has warned that Aboriginal Australians and the United Nations are plotting to establish taxpayer funded Aboriginal states. Are these sentiments racist?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’ve read the speech she made last night and I’ve got to say it is not only an inaccurate, dishonest speech, but it verges on the deranged in various places. I said all along that whenever she says something that is wrong or against the interests of Australia I will attack it. And in a sense she has done the political debate in Australia a great service by delivering the speech because she has actually put down in black and white, in writing, her views, rather than relying on a series of one-liners and nudges and winks and inferences and general attitudes. And what she says about this United Nations declaration is wrong on four counts. Firstly, it’s a draft declaration, is therefore not legally binding. It’s not a treaty. Secondly, the Australian Government has not conspired as she suggests to keep it secret from the Australian public. If she had bothered to turn up to Parliament more frequently than she does, she would have known that one of the first things my Government did was to introduce an open, accountable treaty making process. We require treaties to be tabled in Parliament. We require a far more open process. We have, as a Government, significant reservations about this draft declaration. We have not approved it. We are not in the business of trying to tear the heart out of the Australian nation. It is not….to be involving the United Nations discussion is not a treacherous sell-out of the Australian people. Now, you ask me is it racist. The strict definition of a racist is somebody who believes that his or her race is superior to other races. Now, what she is doing, of course, is, I think, on this particular issue and what she said in this speech is appealing to irresponsible racist sentiment in the Australian community. It is a very irresponsible speech and the more it is analysed the more reason there will be for people not supporting her.

KELLY: So she is racist in this context?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’ve said, I mean, she is fanning racist sentiment. Now, let’s not sort of, I mean, you and I had a discussion about the definition of a racist before we came on air and I think we agree that a racist, strictly speaking, is somebody who believes one race is superior to another. But by using this sort of language she is, I believe, appealing to racist sentiment. And can I also take the opportunity of saying that I saw an observation by Richard Court in the paper this morning that one of the problems is that there’s been a vacuum left by the failure of the Senate to pass the Native Title Amendment Act. If our Native Title Bill had been passed by the Democrats and the minority parties and the Labor Party in the Senate, this native title issue would now be off the national agenda. And it wouldn’t be possible for people like Mrs Hanson to run around Australia saying that native title is going to lead to taxpayer funded Aboriginal states within Australia. Now I mean that is just plain hysterical nonsense.

KELLY: Okay, if it’s hysterical nonsense, if it’s a deranged account and if she is fanning racist sentiment, will you now declare that the Federal Liberal Party will not give her any preferential treatment when it comes to

PRIME MINISTER: Look Fran, I have said on that issue that that will be dealt with in the normal processes of the Party and I am not going to say any more. I would remind you, however, that at the last election the Labor Party, in my seat of Bennelong and in Mr Beazley’s seat of Brand, gave Australians Against Further Immigration, who have now in Victoria merged with One Nation to form a single party, gave preferences to that party ahead of the Liberal Party. What the Labor Party has done in relation to the preference issue is to adopt a stunt and to elevate it into a huge national issue. Now, parties from time immemorial, major parties, have allocated preferences towards the end of their ticket in a fairly hit-or-miss fashion. You know that and so does Mr Beazley.

KELLY: Isn’t it a bit different here because what we see is One Nation with a big block of votes, for instance, in this Queensland election?

PRIME MINISTER: Fran, I will deal with the, if I may, we’re in the middle of this Queensland election. I will deal with the Federal electoral implications of preference allocation at the right time.

KELLY: But at the moment in the middle of the Queensland election you are not uncomfortable with the fact that some One Nation candidates may be elected with the help of Liberal and National Party preferences?

PRIME MINISTER: Well I don’t believe that will happen. I am certainly not uncomfortable with the stance that the Queensland Coalition has taken in the Queensland election campaign. Their enemy is the Labor Party and I take the opportunity of saying to a lot of decent people who might be thinking of voting for One Nation because they may feel economically insecure. If you go ahead and do so you would be voting for a party whose leader has a very, very flimsy grasp on reality in relation to certain issues, is prepared to deliberately misrepresent the position of my Government. When she talks about native title she has missed the large number of Parliamentary debates on native title and if our position on native title which was a moderate, middle-of-the-road position. We are prepared to give certainty to Australian farmers and pastoralists and indeed, if our position on native title had been adopted months ago by the Senate this would no longer be a major issue in Australian politics and the people who have got to carry the major responsibility for it still being on the agenda are the Australian Labor Party, the Australian Democrats and others in the Senate who have voted our compromise bill down, I mean, what they have done is to create the opportunity for the sort of speech that was made last night to be made.

KELLY: Mr Howard, just before we move off this issue, yesterday you welcomed ex-ABC broadcaster Rod Henshaw as the new Liberal Candidate for the Federal Seat of Dickson. Last night Pauline Hanson said that Rod Henshaw compered the launch of One Nation in Ipswich and shared a lot of her views. Are people who share her views welcome candidates for the Liberal Party?

PRIME MINISTER: I understand that Rod Henshaw at the time was a paid broadcaster MC.

KELLY: Does that make it all right?

PRIME MINISTER:Hang on, let me finish. He’s also, as I understand, compered four occasions or award nights for Wayne Goss. He’s done some work for Kim Beazley. He told my office that her observation about his sharing her views on a lot of issues was rubbish but if you want to know Rod Henshaw’s views, I am quite happy, as a former ABC broadcaster he would be delighted to be interviewed by you.

KELLY: If I could just move onto tax now, Prime Minister. On the one hand your promise to never, ever introduce a GST had a shelf life of three years, or one term of Parliament. Why should voters think that your latest promise, that the rate of a GST will not rise, should have a life any longer than that?

PRIME MINISTER:Well Fran, I am putting my position in front of the Australian people before an election. There can be no more open, transparent way to conduct public affairs in this country, to say, this is our policy, if you like it vote for it, if you don’t, vote against it. There is all the world of difference between that and what the Labor Party did in 1993 when they promised not to introduce a GST before the election, and after the election they introduced their own version of a GST. I mean, are you seriously saying that somebody can never change their mind?

KELLY: No, what I am saying is I understand that.

PRIME MINISTER: I am glad you acknowledge that people are entitled to change their mind.

KELLY: But won’t voters then also be led to think now that you might change your mind about the rate of a GST?

PRIME MINISTER: No they won’t, because they will know that if I do have a change of mind about anything, and I certainly, I am obviously referring to the promises I made before 1996, I will put that change to the public but my position simply is this, Fran, that we are going to the next election with a detailed tax reform policy and that detailed tax reform policy will be out in the open. If people like it, they can vote for it. If they don’t they
can vote against it.

KELLY: When will it be out in the open? You have promised on several occasions that the tax package will be released well before the next election.

PRIME MINISTER: Fran, that, with respect, is just a wasted question. You know I am not in a position to say when it is going to be announced.

KELLY: But it will be well before the next election?

PRIME MINISTER: It will be announced in plenty of time for people to digest it before they vote.

KELLY: If an election was going to be held in August…

PRIME MINISTER: Fran, don’t waste my time asking those sort of hypothetical questions.

KELLY: The latest Newspoll out today has support for a GST fading. Does that concern you?

PRIME MINISTER: No it doesn’t. I haven’t seen the detail of that poll but I imagine the question was just a straight question – are you in favour of a GST or not? Now if it is, then I am not surprised that people say no to that. I mean, I am not in favour of a GST on top of the present tax structure and we won’t introduce it. I would only be in favour of a broad based, indirect tax if it involved the abolition of the wholesale sales tax, at least, and significant cuts in personal income tax. It has never been and it never will be our policy to put a GST on top of the existing tax structure.

KELLY: You have said in Parliament that the Australian people will either believe you or they will believe Labor. In a sense, do both sides have a bit of a credibility problem coming into this and is that really the whole, part of the contributing factor to the rise in One Nation stocks, the credibility problems, the baggage that both major parties carry?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I think One Nation supporters are made up of three distinct groups. I think there are a group of people in the community who are racially motivated on some issues. That’s one distinct group. I think she got a few voters out of my strong stance on guns and I am not going to compromise that stance, not under any circumstances and I make that very plain to her and to her supporters on that issue. The third group is a much larger one, are really just ordinary decent Australians who are attracted by one line solutions. They feel economically insecure. They think she has got the answers because she is different.

KELLY: And they don’t believe the promises of the major parties?

PRIME MINISTER: I think it’s more that they are, they have been knocked around by life. They predominantly live in regional Australia. They feel economically insecure and there are no easy solutions to many of these problems and she comes along and says, look it’s all the fault of the foreigners and it’s all the fault of the Aborigines and it’s all the fault of somebody else. And they say, maybe that’s right, we’ll give her a go. Now the advantage in one sense of what she did last night in making a detailed speech was to expose her flimsy knowledge, to expose just how erratic is the line of argument that she’s using on some issues and I think in that sense it’s a warning to people who are contemplating voting for her that she has absolutely no solutions and I particularly in the context of the Queensland election, would say to those Coalition people who may be thinking of voting for her, it is a wasted vote. She has no answers. She has an insecure grasp of reality, in fact, and you ought to support the Borbidge Government which is really the only conservative alternative on offer. I mean, it’s a Beattie Government or a Borbidge Government and if you are a conservative voter in Queensland and you want a conservative Government, you ought to vote for Borbidge.

KELLY: Prime Minister, thank you.


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