World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Howard on AWB; Schapelle Corby; NSW police & riot

Transcript of The Prime Minister, The Hon John Howard MP Press Conference, Phillip Street, Sydney

Subject: Robert Hill’s resignation; reshuffle; AWB; Schapelle Corby; NSW police.

E&OE……………………………………………………………………………………

PRIME MINISTER:

Ladies and gentleman, I’ve called this news conference to say publicly what I have said to Robert Hill privately and that is how much I will miss him as a senior colleague; that his departure from the Ministry and in a short period of time from the Senate will represent a huge loss for the Government. Robert Hill has served the Liberal Party, the people of South Australia and the people of Australia for almost 25 years and I place on record on my behalf and I know of all of my colleagues and a broader Liberal Party family, our gratitude for what has been by any measure a remarkably successful and a remarkably influential career in politics. He’s been a fine Defence Minister, he was a very skilful and innovative Minister for the Environment and of course he’s led the Government in the Senate for the entire period of time that it’s been in office. The fact that for most of that time the Government did not have the numbers in the Senate, yet was able to secure the passage of so much of its legislation is a tribute to his leadership skills and to his negotiating style.

Robert and I enjoyed a very close working relationship. The closeness and the effectiveness of that relationship contributed very significantly to the internal cohesion of the Government. I trusted him totally and I regularly consulted him on those difficult issues which inevitably arise when a government has been in power for such a long period of time. The fact that we occasionally brought different perspectives to issues only added to the quality and the strength of the relationship. He was of course Defence Minister during a period of intense activity and responsibility for the Australian Defence Force and he brought to that position high intelligence and a thoughtful appreciation of the changing environment for Australia’s Defence forces.

I want, in recording my appreciation to him; thanking him for his service to the Liberal Party as a Senator from South Australia, as a close Ministerial colleague and noting the reference he made to the thirteen years in opposition, and if memory serves me correctly, there’s only one other Member of the Government who’s spent thirteen years in opposition and that is myself, it is something that we’ve shared. I certainly remember those thirteen years, they had an indelible impression; left an indelible impression on me as they have clearly on Robert Hill and they greatly fired our determination to deliver a cohesive and effective government.

I want to thank Robert for his years of service, I will miss him, he is a loss, he is a valued colleague, a good friend and I wish he and his wife Diana and their family both good health and good fortune for the years ahead.

JOURNALIST:

Senator Hill said this morning that his future rests in the hands of the Government, will there be a job for him?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, Senator Hill is still a Senator and I’m not going to make any comment on speculation that has been in the media as to what may or may not happen to him.

JOURNALIST:

So he’s been offered no job?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I am simply not going to add to any of that speculation.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think he would be a suitable Ambassador to the UN?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am not going to talk about his abilities in relation to particular positions. That would not be appropriate. Let me simply though say this, that the principle which governments of both sides of politics have followed in the past on occasions of appointing former Members of Parliament to diplomatic positions, is entirely proper. Many of them do an extremely good job. I’ve just noticed the high praise heaped on the G’day LA week in Los Angeles. That was a particular initiative of the current Consul General in Los Angeles who is a former Premier of South Australia. So I think the Member for Griffith is being a tad unrealistic and also suffering for a bit of partisan amnesia.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard when do you expect you will announce your reshuffle?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well because Senator Hill has resigned changes will have to be made. I expect that I will announce those changes sometime next week. I don’t want to commit myself to a particular time, but I would expect it would take place sometime next week.

JOURNALIST:

How extensive will they be?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh, I am not going to speculate about that. I think though there is one point I’d like to make in relation to some of the newspaper reports that have appeared in the past few days, the suggestion being that in some way the National Party is over-represented. If you take all of the Members of the Ministry and the Members and the Parliamentary Secretaries and you relate that to the statistical proportion that National Party Members and Senators bear to the overall, they’re not over-represented at all. In fact it’s almost statistically precise; about as precise as you can ever have these things. So that really is not a valid criticism. In any Coalition you divide portfolios and Parliamentary Secretaries on the basis of the representation within the overall number. I might remind you that after the 2001 election when the proportions shifted against the National Party, they lost a Minister and that’s the natural consequences of these things. They are done with some regard to arithmetic. But politics tends to be governed by arithmetic and I follow the arithmetic of these things very carefully.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister who have you got your eye on to replace Senator Hill?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m not going to speculate about that, I’m not going to speculate about any of the details of possible changes. I do observe that I have a very good front bench, I do not share the view that’s expressed obviously by our political opponents that it’s anything other than a very strongly performing front bench. There are obviously a lot of people of talent on the back bench. I’m very lucky. A lot of very good new people have come in and there are a lot of very experienced people who came in in the earlier years and one of the things that happens when you are in power for a long period of time is that there’s obviously a considerable build up of people of ability. But it’s a nice situation to have. It’s better than the alternative and that is you engage yourself in make-believe government in opposition and not the real thing.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister is it right for the West Papuans who recently arrived in Australia to be moved to Christmas Island?

PRIME MINISTER:

That’s entirely appropriate. Their position will be assessed, they will be interviewed and they will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, obligatory question, does Senator Hill’s departure make you think any more about yours?

PRIME MINISTER:

My position remains as I’ve articulated it in the past.

JOURNALIST:

What sort of contribution do you think Senator Hill might be able to make to Australia’s Diplomatic Corp if he was appointed to one of them?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I am not going to engage in that kind of speculation. Try another question, on another subject

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, on another resignation, what do you think of Russell Balding’s resignation as Managing Director of the ABC?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I wish him well. I gather he’s going to work for the Airport Corporation. I think the Chairman of that body and Mr Balding once worked together some years ago in a state rail authority. But I wish him well. The question of his successor is a matter for the Board of the ABC.

JOURNALIST:

On a State issue Prime Minister, as a resident of Sydney do you believe…

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I share my time between Sydney and Canberra and the rest of Australia, so I see myself as a citizen of the country, but I grew up in Sydney and I am very familiar with it and I love the city.

JOURNALIST:

From your observations when you’re in Sydney, do you believe that police here go softly, softly on Middle Eastern crime?

PRIME MINISTER:

What I believe in is that when people break the law, irrespective of their background they should be relentlessly pursued and punished, that’s what I believe. I’m not going to buy into the cut and thrust of state politics in New South Wales except to observe that the Leader of the Opposition is doing a very good job of articulating his party’s position. And I think Peter Debnam has done very well as an Opposition Leader and he enjoys my full support. I will naturally as Prime Minister co-operate in a professional manner with the elected Labor Governments of all of the states, that’s been my practice in the past and it will be my practice in the future. But speaking as Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party and not as Prime Minister I think Peter Debnam is doing a very good job. But as to the detail of the exchanges and this, that and the other, I’m observing it, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to go beyond what I’ve said; that the law should be applied without regard and without lead or hindrance according to somebody’s background. I mean the very essence of all of these things is to treat everybody as an Australian and not as a hyphenated Australian. I don’t like hyphenated Australians, I just like Australians.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard what is your reaction to the Indonesian Court’s decision to reinstate Schapelle Corby’s sentence?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I don’t have a reaction. I don’t think I should express a view on that. I respect the Indonesian justice system. I hope that whenever Australians are dealt with by foreign courts they receive justice, but I am not going to place myself above the Indonesian judiciary and express a view. That is a matter for the Indonesian Courts.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister on the AWB…

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, where are you from?

JOURNALIST:

Financial Review.

JOURNALIST:

Are you confident for it to continue as the monopoly wheat exporter?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that is something that should be looked at; the question of having a single desk is something that in a way is unrelated to the position of AWB Limited. Up until now the Government has had a policy of having a single desk for exports, that’s a policy that can always be reviewed and there are range of views within the Australian community. If we were to change that policy, than we would need to take account of matters of policy and impact on the industry, separate and apart from the matters that are being dealt with before the royal commission.

JOURNALIST:

Just on Iraq, any idea when the troops will return to Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

They will comeback when their job has been completed.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister do you have any reaction to the latest adventures of Mr Latham with the camera?

PRIME MINISTER:

No I don’t. Thank you.

[ends]

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

ALSO:

Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>

ALSO:


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>

ALSO:

Mexico: Violence And Repression Of Teachers

The member organizations of Network for Peace express our indignation over the acts of repression that the Mexican State has carried out, through the police forces... In Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, the conflict has resulted in murders of teachers and civilians as well as hundreds of wounded and dozens of people arrested. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Britain's Pleas For Mercy

So… Boris Johnson is promising that he won't be holding a snap general election, if he's chosen as the next UK Conservative Party leader. Reportedly, he is even making that promise a feature of his leadership campaign, since a vote for Boris would therefore mean (wink wink) that his colleagues wouldn't have to risk their jobs and face the wrath of the British public until 2020. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news