PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 11465

Doorstop, Moree

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 13/06/2000

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 11465

E & OE.....

Subjects: reconciliation; cotton industry

JOURNALIST:

Is this an example of practical reconciliation?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well judging on what I have seen so far yes, very much so. There's a great spirit of people working together to provide practical opportunities for Aboriginal people and what is so impressive is people working together as one community. You don't have one group over here and another group over there. I think that is quite inspirational, not only to the people of this district but to people all around Australia because I think what is happening here is what all Australians want to see. They want to see opportunities for Aboriginal people to better themselves to share in the general life of the Australian community. I think all Australians want that. They want them to have equality of opportunity, they want them to have jobs, better health, better schooling, better employment opportunities, everybody wants that.

JOURNALIST:

Is this your way of making up for not marching across the harbour bridge?

PRIME MINISTER:

It's not a question of making up. It's a question of demonstrating a practical interest in practical reconciliation. I have always believed in that and I always will. I think the best thing you can do for anybody is to give them an opportunity in life and if we can provide over the years, genuine equality of opportunity for all Australians whether they're Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islanders or other Australians then you will acheive genuine reconciliation. If you don't do that then you won't. You can have all the fine words, fine speeches and fine praises but unless you give people jobs, good health, security and hope that they can live a decent family life, it's not going to achieve a lot.

JOURNALIST:

Torres Strait people I think two-thirds of aboriginal people in Moree are still unemployed?

PRIME MINISTER:

It's a lot better than what is was. I know and of course I don't think anybody here is pretending the problem's been solved but the important thing is that a start has been made and that is very encouraging and that's the reason why I am here, to demonstrate my very strong support.

JOURNALIST:

Why did you bring so many Cabinet [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

Well they are interested too. The government in different ways is contributing about six hundred thousand dollars to the Croc Eisteddfod and Mr Reith's here because we have employment programmes for Aboriginal people and others. John Anderson of course is not only Deputy Prime Minister, but he is the local member. So we are all interested and the Government is giving a lot of support to these sorts of programmes because in the end the success of these programmes will decide whether you achieve true reconciliation.

JOURNALIST:

There are some people wondering why you are here today because there hasn't been a Prime Minister in Moree since I think like twenty years.

PRIME MINISTER:

I don't want to criticise any of my predecessors. It's a big country. I am here because I am interested. I am not here to bag one of my predecessors for not coming. There is nothing to be achieved by that.

JOURNALIST:

Are you concerned though with the next election coming up there might be a backlash from the local voters here. Is that why you're making a presence?

PRIME MINISTER:

I mean you are damned if you do and you are damned if you don't. If you don't go somewhere you are disinterested. If you go somewhere where you are criticised for seeking votes. I just try to do my job. I am here because this town provides an interesting inspiration for the rest of the community and I think it ought to be applauded for that.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister the Cotton Industry is so important to this region .What assurance can you give them that they will not be affected [inaudible] by water cuts.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I can assure the industry generally that the decisions we take on that will be fair and reasonable and will not damage them. More importantly though I can also assure them that under this government there will continue to be very good economic conditions which have bought about the growth of the industry or helped to bring about the growth of the industry and that's very important also. Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript 11465