Labor’s Schools policy, election preferences, Mark Latham – Doorstop Interview, Adelaide

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Labor’s Schools policy, election preferences, Mark Latham – Doorstop Interview, Adelaide




Doorstop Interview

Immanuel College

Novar Gardens, Adelaide

Monday, 20 September 2004

10.40 am


SUBJECTS: Labor’s Schools policy, election preferences, Mark



Well it is a great pleasure to be here with Simon Birmingham the Liberal

Candidate for Hindmarsh, today and to campaign with him. This is going to

be a very hotly contested electorate. It will be one of the electorates

which will determine the outcome of the Federal election and Simon is a

marvellous candidate and he is working hard and hopefully over the next

20 days he will have the opportunity to win the trust of the people of Hindmarsh.


The Prime Minister hasn’t ruled out giving Greens preferences ahead of

Labor in some electorates, do you have any idea which electorates those

might be that you might be giving preferences to Greens in?


Well we normally put Labor last and so by definition if you put Labor last,

Greens get preferences above them. This is something that is done by the

organisation and I certainly won’t be announcing it but this doesn’t indicate

of course that we approve of Green policy because in a lot of areas we think

it would do a lot of economic damage. But we don’t believe that the Greens

are going to be forming a Government, the risk is that Mr Latham will.


The primary school here is getting more money under the Latham plan, how

do you tell parents of that school to vote Liberal?


Well this school is actually on the list of 111 schools who are having

their funding frozen…


But the primary school is getting more.


…well overall this school is having its funding cut under Mr Latham.


The College is cut, the primary school…






…we are talking about the primary school of Immanuel…


Yes, the little kids over there, they are at the primary school.


…yes, overall, Immanuel is having its grants cut. And that can’t

be good for the school, can it?


You are saying as a whole the school is worse off?


The Immanuel is on the list of schools which is having its funding frozen.

That means that even though the cost of education is going up, the amounts

are frozen. That means that overall Immanuel will do worse off under Mr

Latham’s policy.


Back to preferences, Meg Lees has missed out on Liberal preferences here

which means you face the possibility if you return to Government of working

with the Greens in the Senate or perhaps Family First, that is if Family

First got the preferences. I would have thought that you would have found

Meg Lees an easier person to deal with than either Family First or the Greens.


Well look, I pay tribute to the work that Meg has done. I think she has

been a good balance of power Senator. In South Australia we are preferencing

Family First ahead of Meg Lees. But Family First is a Party that believes

in family and family values and I think on those issues is close to the

Coalition, so…


Do you think it was a mistake, the deal, do you see it…?


…no, I don’t, I think that on the family issues that Family First

is particularly concerned about, we can work with it very well and I think

it is very close to the Liberal Party on those issues.


Senator Lees also said that her understanding is that Family First will

preference sitting candidates in marginal, sitting Members in marginals,

to which by its nature will favour the Government in Labor’s incumbency.

Can you shed any insight on that, is she correct?


Well I hope it would. I can’t tell you whether or not it would but I would

hope that Family First would preference to the Liberal Party, because I

believe that the Liberal Party’s values in relation to the family do put

families first and I don’t think it would be a problem for any Party that

is concerned about family values to preference to the Liberal Party…


But you can’t say whether that arrangement has been come to in the Lower

House or not?


…no I can’t tell you that, but if it were to come to that I would

welcome it. I welcome preferences from whoever would be prepared to give

them to us, I am not going to turn any preferences away, I can assure you

of that.


What did you make of Mark Latham’s performance yesterday, and I mean specifically

his reaction to Laurie Oakes and then his reaction to questioning from,

I think it was The Australian, in terms of where his son may or

may not go to school?


Well you see, Mark Latham has got a terrible problem with his tax policy.

Mark Latham’s tax policy is going to make hundreds of thousands of Australians

worse off. You have got to understand this point. Mark Latham wants to take

money away from low income families. A low income family say on $30,000

looking after three kids is going to have money ripped out of their budget

by Mark Latham’s tax policy. Why he would want to do that, I don’t know,

it is beyond me, I assume he didn’t understand it when he announced it and

if he had been sensible he would has re-cast his whole family tax policy.

Anyway, he is stuck with it. Now when Laurie Oakes pointed that out to him

on the news, he had a little tizzy fit. But you can’t blame Laurie Oakes

for pointing out what everybody knows. That is, Mark Latham’s Family Tax

Policy is gong to make significant numbers of Australian families worse

off and particularly low income Australian families. There is no point in

attacking Laurie Oakes, no point having a go at him, he is just pointing

out what the fact is. What he ought to do is change the policy.


But two tizzies in one day, to use your term, what does that say about

somebody’s self-control under pressure?


Well Mr Latham has been caught out on his Family Tax Policy, when this

is pointed out to him, he gets heated, he attacked the journalists concerned,

what it shows is he is not cool under pressure. Now he himself has admitted

that he is not cool under pressure and I think you saw evidence of it on

the weekend. Mark Latham is not cool under pressure.


What about his point that it is not fair to bring a three year old into

the political debate?


Well I am not sure who did.


Well the question was about where his three year old son was going to be

going to school.


Well look, I didn’t ask any question about his three year old son, I assume

a journalist did, you know, but if you have complaints about journalists,

don’t ask me, ask each other.


Do you think people’s, politician’s families should be left out of the



Look, you know, it depends very much on the issue, but I am not interested

in Mark Latham’s children, I am not interested in saying anything about

Mark Latham’s children. I am interested in what he proposes to do to families

who have children because his family tax proposal is to take money away

from them. Now he has got to answer this fact – why is he proposing

for families on $30,000 to take money away from them? Now you imagine, look,

let me ask you to think about this: Dad is working for a wage of $30,000,

he is trying to look after Mum and three kids. Mark Latham comes along and

says, you have got too much money, I’d like to take some away from you.

It is a pretty heartless thing to do.


Treasurer, half way through the campaign, are you now more confident than

when the campaign started of retaining Government?


It is going to be a close campaign and nobody can tell who is going to

win, but I am just going to argue our case and our record from now until

polling day. Thank you all…


Where do your children go to school Mr Costello?


Everybody knows where my children go to school.


Except me.


Well I don’t know that you have ever asked me before.


And where is it on the list of schools in terms of who is to be, if it

is a private school, is it going to get money taken away or stay the same

or more?


I have different children at different schools.


And are all of them…


Some of them would probably get less money and some of them might even

get more.


Just quickly back to preferences, you are going to launch Trish Draper’s

campaign, Family First is the strongest in that electorate that preferences

are important there. The candidate has said that Trish Draper’s problems

with travel and partners would make it difficult for the Party to preference

her. Is it likely to be overruled though? What would you say about that?


Well I think that Family First should preference Liberal Candidates. Why?

Because I believe that Liberal policy and Liberal values put families first

and if this is a political Party that wants to put families first then I

would urge it to preference the Liberal Party. OK, thanks.