Geelong Road, Temporary Visas, Tax Reform

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Australia will Forgive the Debt of World’s Poorest Countries
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Australia will Forgive the Debt of World’s Poorest Countries
April 21, 2000
New Tax System Information Campaign
April 27, 2000

Geelong Road, Temporary Visas, Tax Reform


Transcript No. 2000/35







Wednesday, 26 April 2000

11.00 am


SUBJECTS: Geelong Road, Temporary Visas, Tax Reform


Good news all around today, Essendons on top of the ladder and this

upgrade has been announced.


I think its a very important thing for the people of Geelong, and indeed

for the people of Melbourne who commute to Geelong, this upgrade, $240

million upgrade of Geelong Road, which means that therell be a three

lanes each way to Werribee, and four lanes each way after that. The Federal

Governments very pleased to declare it a Road of National Importance

which means itll have federal funding, and as you can see the sods are

already being turned.


The States are concerned that the illegal immigrants, which may soon

get temporary visas, will be a financial burden on them. What do you say

to that?


Well, the Government has set aside a very large sum of money to strengthen

our border protection over the course of the last year. Weve been strengthening

our border protection with increased surveillance, weve been strengthening

it with new Customs vessels, weve been upgrading our detention facilities

to make sure that Australians can be sure that borders are safe and are

protected. Now there is quite a considerable cost in relation to illegals

who are in detention being given medical care and the remainder, but I

can assure you that the Government, after carefully scrutinising their

claims, will ensure that the law is carried out to the full and that our

border protection and immigration policies are implemented in a very effective



With due respect sir, you set these people free with $500 each, they

are going to be a financial burden for somebody.


No, the Government has ensured that there are strong detention facilities,

that we have more surveillance now than weve ever had. People who have

legitimate claims before the courts are entitled to bring them. But within

the operation of the law, the Government is actually ensuring that its

immigration programmes are faithfully and efficiently carried out.


What do you say, why wont the Federal Government appoint Jeff Kennett

to its Wool Growers Body?


Well, Im not entering into whos putting their names forward for particular

bodies. The Government makes announcements after it carefully considers

people who are best qualified for jobs, and until public announcements

are made, then all the rest is speculation.


Back to the migrants, youve said that youre running a tight law if

you like, but the States are concerned that these people will be released

with temporary visas and $500, so obvioulsy theyll have to go on to some

sort of welfare?


Well, people who come into Australia as immigrants have a two year wait

before they can go onto welfare. People that claim refugee status whilst

they are going through their claims are housed and given medical care,

but if the status is not granted then, as youve seen recently, people

are sent back to where they may have come from. And weve always operated

a very tight control on that refugee programme. Legitimate refugees, yes.

Queue jumpers, no. People that try and jump the queue and get their refugee

claim in, by arriving in Australia illegally are dealt with in a very

efficient way under the procedures which the Government has put in place.


If it turns out that it is costing the States a lot of money will you

compensate them?


Well, this is not a matter of money, it is not a matter of Federal /

State rivalry. As I said, legitimate claims for refugee status which are

granted by the Government means that within the programme you can be admitted.

If you are not a legitimate refugee, if you try and jump the queue, you

are apprehended in Australia, you are put into detention, you are dealt

with in accordance with law, and we operate a very tight border control



Is the Government concerned some pharmaceutical drugs may be withdrawn

from sale under the GST?


I dont think theres any grounds for that at all. The Federal Government

operates a Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme which subsidises pharmaceuticals

which are admitted onto that scheme. The subsidies will continue under

the new tax system, those pharmacies will be able to dispense them, theyll

still be at the subsidised price, and consumers will be able to buy them.

No grounds for concern in relation to that whatsoever.


Some suggestion the ACCC will get more money in the Budget to help fight

the GST, people doing the wrong thing?


The ACCC is going to be well funded to ensure that it can undertake the

very important work of protecting consumers. Weve made it entirely clear

that businesses should not increase prices under cover of GST. And anybody

who believes that a business is doing that can ring the price exploitation

line, and the matter will be investigated by the Australian Competition

Consumer Commission. Its already achieved some notable successes in relation

to that. And it will be well funded, I can assure you, to carry out all

of the duties that the Government has given it under legislation. Thanks.