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Transcript: Howard Speech

13 August 1999


13 August 1999

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP OPENING OF ELECTORATE OFFICE OF CHRIS GALLUS MP FEDERAL MEMBER FOR HINDMARSH GLENELG, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Thank you very much Chris. To his worship the Mayor, to my ministerial colleague, Nick Minchin, to Shane Stone the Federal President of the Liberal Party, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Last night we were all delayed a little bit waiting for some legislation to go through the Senate to finally resolve the question to be put to the Australian public on the 6th of November in relation to the two issues of our Constitutional arrangements and the preamble.

And I offered a lift on the VIP to Robert Hill and to Chris Gallus and to Alexander Downer. And we had a very, very pleasant discussion on the way over about a whole range of things. And about half an hour after we'd been up in the air Chris said: what are you doing for dinner tonight? And I said: well, eating. And she then said: well, why don't you join Alex and I in a restaurant in Glenelg. So we decided to do that and I had a very delightful evening last night in what is obviously a marvellous restaurant and soaked up some of the local ambience and experienced the great prosperity under the Howard Government here in the city of Adelaide.

But I am particularly delighted to be here today. And when you have been in politics for a year or two you are always captured and enthralled by the ironies of politics. I mean, it really tickles my political fancy that a seat like Hindmarsh which for so many years was held by the Australian Labor Party is now in Liberal party hands. That intrigues me greatly.

But I know this is a non-political occasion and it's an occasion to declare open a new electorate office. It's an occasion for me as Prime Minister and as Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party to congratulate Christine Gallus on the tremendous work that she has done in the years that she has been in Parliament since 1990. She won a very difficult seat. It was not easy, it's never been easy to retain it.

And over the years South Australia has delivered to, may I very proudly say, my Government has delivered to us as very large number of seats. A disproportionately large number of seats but a happily disproportionately large number of seats. And if I may be gender selective for a moment one of the reasons for that is that here in the State of South Australia we have been very lucky to have a large number of extremely skilful female members of Parliament who have brought particular campaigning skills. And indeed of all of the States of Australia we have a larger percentage in our ranks of women representing the people of Australia in the Federal Parliament than in any other part of the country. And that is a particularly important thing and Christine's own campaign skills have been very, very considerable and much admired. Her electorate's boundaries have changed, bits have come in that weren't expected and other bits have gone out that were lamented. But overall she's managed to project the stance of somebody who is involved with and concerned about her local community.

The late Speaker of the American House of Representatives, Tip O'Neil, coined that now fairly well known phrase that all politics was local. And it is. And any of us who lose sight of the fact that politics is local and any of us who lose sight of the fact that you need to retain contract with your local community will very quickly find yourself either out of office or out of a seat. And as I look around today I can see that Chris Gallus has retained contact with her local community in a very impressive and a very representative way. And that that is the foundation of high quality representation in either the State Parliament or in the national Parliament.

It is a time where it's very easy for us as Australians to feel hopeful and optimistic about our future. We've had a lot of news this week. But in many ways the best news of all came yesterday when we learnt that the rate of youth unemployment in this country had fallen by 5.8 percentage points since March of 1996. And I think that isà Because in the end what the responsibility of any government is to provide hope and optimism and enthusiasm for the young in our community. And we still have a long way to go because we still have an unemployment rate which is too high, but it is a lot lower than what it was three years ago. And that is coming off the back of an economy which has given to this country, not only a rate of economic growth, but a sense of national pride and achievement that we haven't had for a long time.

One of the best feelings I had when I went overseas a few weeks ago was that I was going over as the Leader of a country that had outperformed just about every other country in the world economically. I was going as the Prime Minister of a nation that was seen as the economic strongman of the Asian Pacific region. I was going as the Prime Minister of a country whose political stability and economic strength was widely respected all around the world.

I had a meeting last Sunday in Sydney with, with Paul Volker, the former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, the man who preceded Dr Alan Greenspan. And he knows a little bit about the worlds economies and he was out here for an economic conference with the Reserve Bank. And he spoke to me then of the admiration he felt for what the Australian economy had done over the last few years and I got a copy of the latest edition of the Fortune magazine which has a major spread on the performance of the Australian economy.

Recently the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times and the Economist have all spoken of our economic achievement. Now this has been no accident. You make your own luck in government and in politics as you do in life. Not all of it's luck, some of it's luck, some of it's luck but most of it is at the end of the hard work of the government, our commitment to pursuing policies that were a bit unpopular and a bit risky at the beginning, but they are now starting to bear fruit. And we are all starting to enjoy the benefit of them.

But we haven't focussed just on economics. We don't just live to borrow that famous biblical injunction, by bread alone. We are interested in things that go the quality of life in our community. We have tried to develop in this community over the last three years what I call a social coalition, where you get together the government, the welfare organisations, the business communities and the energy of individuals to solve challenges. And I am going to have the great privilege at the lunch I'm addressing in Adelaide later today to announce a remarkable act of corporate philanthropy on behalf of a very well known South Australian resource company in relation to activities at the university here in Adelaide. And I will have the opportunity then to go into some more detail about that.

But it is an example of the spirit of cooperation between governments, communities, individuals which is so important. And we have involved the great welfare organisations of this community not only in looking after the needy which is their historic capacity and mission, but we have also involved them in policy making and in a number of areas such as drugs and other areas I have directly involved in an executive policy making capacity organisations such as the City Missions and the Salvation Army and the Society of St Vincent de Paul, because they not only bring human compassion to the solution of problems but they also bring a great skill and a great policy making capacity.

But, it's a bit cool here, I don't want to delay you with a long speech. I want to thank you. I want to thank Christine Gallus. I want to thank her and her campaign team and all of the people of the electorate of Hindmarsh for the community that you represent. Federal Members are here to serve all people. They are not only here to serve the people that voted for them, they are here to serve the people that voted against them. And when we become Members of Parliament we have an obligation to look after and serve and represent and put forward the views and the concerns of all sections of the Australian community. And Chris has done that very well. She's not (inaudible) she's carried the Liberal banner very passionately, but she has also carried the Hindmarsh banner and the community banner very passionately and that is tremendously important. And in the long run that's what makes a high quality government and high quality parliamentary representatives, representation.

So, ladies and gentlemen, congratulations to you Christine. And now, I've got to cut a ribbon. Thank you very much.

[ends]

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