Team Howard stenographers, Paul Kelly and Dennis Shanahan, tell us exactly what John Winston Howard thinks:
JOHN Howard has warned Australians they risk electing a Labor-Greens alliance that would impose a new national direction and conduct radical experiments with their values and institutions.
Bring it on. Our nation needs a new direction, and our values and institutions could do with some reform.
Convinced his hopes of a Coalition win at the weekend are not yet extinguished, Mr Howard said: “Part of my mission this week is to drive home the risk. My every waking hour and every available minute will be to drive home the risk of Labor.”
Scare the pants off us, Johnny. We can take it.
“There will be a return of political correctness. There will be a softening in relation to things like drugs. You will get a less socially conservative country at the very least.
“I think the country’s mood is that people want economic progress but they don’t want experiments with our basic values and institutions. Imagine if you are depending on the Greens to get a measure through the Senate on education. Imagine what they would extract.”
Asked about the economy, Mr Howard said: “It is a watershed election on industrial relations reform. If you believe in a freer labour market, you can’t possibly support Labor. They will roll it back and it will never return, because the non-Labor side of politics will say that forever and a day you can’t do what Howard did. It will become part of our folklore that you cannot permanently reform industrial relations. It’s as crucial as that. That would be a tragedy for Australia because anybody who studies our economy knows these reforms have been beneficial, and have generated jobs.
“Work Choices will be thrown out, unfair dismissal will come back, pattern bargaining will come back. In effect, compulsory arbitration will come back, because under Fair Work Australia you can have one person being represented by a trade union in a bargaining process and if the union disagrees with the offer, it has to be resolved by Fair Work Australia. That’s compulsory arbitration in my language.”
Are you arguing against Labor, or for it? Do you understand that WorkChoices has been the albatross around your neck?
Asked about the future under the Coalition, Mr Howard said Peter Costello “will be elected unopposed” as his successor. In a warning to leadership aspirants, Mr Howard pledged to the Treasurer, saying this would be “the right thing” for the Liberal Party and for Australia.
You’re now appointing yourself Kingmaker?
On the economy, Mr Howard attacked the Opposition Leader’s repeated warnings about an end to the resources boom. “Rolling back industrial reform will be the first time in 25 years that this country has turned backwards on a major reform,” he said.
That says something about the poor quality of the reform, doesn’t it?
“It’s not dependency to give a tax break to people for doing certain things,” he said. “I find this blurring of the distinction between expenditure and tax incentives as ridiculous. We encourage people to make choices about their children’s education through tax breaks … We support people who have children by giving them tax breaks. That’s authentic Liberal orthodoxy.
Transferring public debt to private debt so that you can claim to have improved the economic situation without making life any easier for Australians – that’s Liberal orthodoxy.
It’s a shame that two political journalists (ahem) put their byline on a Prime Ministerial press release. It also seems quite illogical to do so when that person will lose power in less than a week.
ELSEWHERE: Bugger – Darryl Mason says something similar to me, only smarter; Sam Clifford sees through the scare campaign and views it as a sales pitch for a better Australia.
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