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Home > News > Kim Beazley - Doorstop - Nursing Homes, WorkCover, Export Smuggling, GST, National Anthem, Alexander Downer, McKell Foundation
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Kim Beazley - Doorstop Interview

Subjects: Nursing Homes, WorkCover, Export Smuggling, GST, National Anthem, Alexander Downer, McKell Foundation

Transcript - Parliament House, Canberra - 21 June 2001


BEAZLEY: What does Bronwyn Bishop have to do to get the sack? When is Mr Howard going to act on a Minister who repeatedly fails to resolve the problems in our troubled aged care industry? People are suffering. People are suffering now. The accreditation agency has a giant question mark over it and it is not as though John Howard doesn't know. These things are being exposed in Question Time day after day. They have been going on now for years. Its promise to fix, the Government promises to fix them and they're not fixed. When is Bronwyn Bishop going to be sacked?

JOURNALIST: So will you shut down Yagoona?

BEAZLEY: Yagoona has had problem after problem revealed associated with it. It has had the sort of rating which would normally get it shut down. It has been the subject of complaint into Bronwyn Bishop's office. Now she said it was all news to her when it was raised in the media earlier this year and we discover in fact that there has been correspondence in the circumstances of one poor patient a year prior to that. Now the standards agency which is supposed to be handling these things should have got to grips with that but more importantly the Minister cannot stand behind the standards agency and conceal her own culpability. In the end Ministers administer. It is Bronwyn Bishop's job to make sure the job is done and she is simply failing to act.

JOURNALIST: Mr Beazley, the unions are calling for a Labor conference to settle the WorkCover issue in NSW. Would that be disruptive for you in an election year?

BEAZLEY: I saw a headline in one of the papers today saying that all the situation is some way or another a threat to me. Forget about me. When we fight the federal election it is going to be fought around the goods and services tax. It is going to be fought around a government that is out of touch that panics when it is finally called to reckoning by the electorate and wrecks the budget in the process. I mean that is what the federal election is going to be about. What we have got here is a serious problem that the NSW Government has to handle and they have got to handle it free of any pressure about what might happen politically some time down the track. Bob Carr yesterday was obliged to uphold the sanctity of Parliament and he did. Chikarovski shamelessly did not. Shamelessly did not. There is a ticker problem operating with the NSW Leader of the Opposition and that is patently obvious but that is the events around Parliament. Then there is the circumstances itself. Bob Carr has got a result, a problem associated with WorkCover where the costs are just blowing out uncontrollably. He has got to resolve that and he knows that he has to resolve it on a basis in which people that are affected by it are comfortable and feel that they have been involved in a meaningful negotiation and he has been trying his level best to achieve that. And what I would urge the parties to do is to keep that process going. This is not a problem with a singular solution. There is not just the issue of this legislation there is going to be an inquiry after that and there will the regulatory arrangements after that. There are plenty of opportunities for the parties to talk this through in a way that protects everybody's interests but also protects the general taxpayers' interests in ensuring that they have got an affordable scheme in place in NSW. And what I would I say to Bob Carr and to the people who are involved in this - you resolve this issue from within the framework of its own merits and we will deal with the federal issues when the federal election comes.

JOURNALIST: Mr Beazley, are you concerned by reports that up to 30 per cent of Australian exports are being smuggled back into the country to avoid GST and duty tax?

BEAZLEY: One of the things that you are going to find you get plenty of copy on over the years is evasion of the GST. You find now in Europe that evasion of the VAT which is the European equivalent is the size of the British GDP. One of the many lies told about the GST when it was introduced by the Howard Government was that it deals with the black economy - of course it doesn't - it just changes its character. So you are going to find as the years go by many scams and schemes put in place to get around the impact of the GST. We have had put at the heart of the Australian taxation system a problem forever. That is what we have had courtesy of John Howard and Peter Costello.

JOURNALIST: Mr Beazley, ...republic support the National Anthem?

BEAZLEY: Well, the National Anthem is not contradictory to an Australian republic, it is a multi-disciplinary National Anthem that applies both to a situation whether a constitutional monarchy or a republic. I guess having got everybody to learn the words and the tune with great arduous endeavour in the Australian education system over the course of the last, what, 25-30 years it would be a bit inconvenient to try a new one.

JOURNALIST: Sandy Macdonald says it is boring, meaningless, should be scrapped. In this Federation year is it worth looking at a different anthem?

BEAZLEY: Well, look. I stand up on behalf of girt. Girt by sea needs to be celebrated and if we can't do that regularly when Australia enjoys its sporting triumphs, at the beginning or our school assemblies and I think something would be lost that is new and decent and essential to the Australian character.

JOURNALIST: Has Alexander Downer been spending too much time on the tennis court in Santiago?

BEAZLEY: We have all found out today what the limo was for. The limo that wasn't there was to take Alexander to the tennis court and I mean, it must have been one hell of a tennis match if he came out with a temper at the end of it enough to sack the Ambassador. I don't really think that the psychology of Alexander has quite got over that awful 'things that batter' episode that so blighted his early life in politics.

JOURNALIST: Mr Beazley, is the McKell Foundation a slush fund for Laurie Brereton?

BEAZLEY: No it is not and it is nothing to do with the Australian Labor Party per se. And I applaud the fact that Laurie Brereton, or those actually associated with operating the Foundation have written to the Electoral Commission to find out whether in their interpretation of things it constitutes something to declare in which case he has no problem in declaring it. What has happened with the McKell Foundation is that it has enabled among other things himself and some other Labor frontbenchers to keep up to speed with their obligations of making contact with the rest of the international community. I saw Alexander Downer in one of his usual fluffing exercises in the Federal Parliament yesterday sort of with roaring pride saying 'I travel at the expense of the Australian taxpayer' - well, Laurie doesn't. Laurie doesn't and in all probability Opposition Spokespersons on Foreign Affairs and Defence ought to get better treatment in terms of their ability to make contact. They are the representatives of the alternative government who need to network internationally. But the McKell Foundation enables him to do that without impinging on the concerns of the Australian taxpayer. Not that I expect the Liberals to understand that they have got into looting the Australian taxpayer big time, big time as you can see with their advertising campaigns and, you know, nothing in relation to the McKell Foundation, which to this point is reasonably interpreted as not coming under the ordinance of the Electoral Commission. Nothing concerned with that would compare with what is happening with the Greenfields Trust in the Liberal Party where they are just concealing huge amounts of their donations.

JOURNALIST: But should the McKell funding be declared?

BEAZLEY: Well, they have written to the AEC to find out whether or not it should be. It is not a party fund it is not there for electoral purposes. That has been what the organisers of the McKell Foundation have assumed as being their situation so they have written to the AEC to establish whether or not that is the case and if it is not the case and it is declarable - it will be declared.


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