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Transcript 12515

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP DOORSTOP INTERVIEW, PARLIAMENT HOUSE

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: 15/03/2002

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 12515

Subjects: Zimbabwe.

E&OE...........

JOURNALIST:

Have you had a chance yet to talk to the Presidents of South Africa and Nigeria and what action are you taking in relation to Zimbabwe?

PRIME MINISTER:

I';ve convened a meeting of the three of us in London on Tuesday next, the 19th. I';ve discussed the matter with the Commonwealth Secretary General. I may have an opportunity over the weekend, I may not, of talking to President Mbeki or President Obasanjo but more likely we will get together in London. It';s not an easy issue but the Commonwealth remit to us, the three of us, was to look at the observers report and then make a judgment in the light of the Harare and Millbrook principles and that';s the charge given to each of us, and Harare and Millbrook are pretty explicit about the requirement for democratic elections and the requirement for proper processes and I';ll be looking at the observers report against those principles. Now I';m making any pre-emptive judgments, I don';t think anybody should and I';m certain that my two Commonwealth colleagues will bring the same objectivity to it.

JOURNALIST:

The observers, there';s been a press conference over there where the observers have outlined their position, it seems very critical. What is your, do you have an early read on how you';re receiving their information, how it seems to you?

PRIME MINISTER:

I';ve read the summary report and I expect to get the full report soon and I';ll naturally read it before the meeting in London next Tuesday. I don';t want to pre-empt what I';m going to say at that meeting, that';s counterproductive to a sensible united outcome. But this is an important time for the Commonwealth. It has to make what we in Australia call a fair dinkum assessment of the Commonwealth analysis. I mean we have to be really serious and deliberative about this because there is a lot at stake and the democratic way has been hard fought and long waited for in many Commonwealth countries. So it';s something that should be upheld.

JOURNALIST:

One more for you, Prime Minister Clark this morning on the radio said New Zealand';s position hadn';t changed, that Zimbabwe ought to be suspended. Would you rule out suspension has an option?

PRIME MINISTER:

I';m not ruling anything out or anything in until I';ve had the meeting. I';m aware of New Zealand';s position and I respect it but I';m in a different position from the New Zealand Prime Minister, I';ve been given a special responsibility and I';m going to try and do it sensibly and conscientiously. It';s not going to be easy but I will certainly be applying the Harare and Millbrook principles against the analysis by the Commonwealth observers. I hope incidentally to talk to at least some of the Australian observers personally before the meeting takes place next Tuesday.

JOURNALIST:

I know I said last but I guess I lied, there';s a lot of pressure on you on this decision isn't there because of the position that you hold right now within the Commonwealth.

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh yes but that';s the same with everything. But it isn';t going to be easy but I';m going to work very hard to have a sensible outcome and I respect President Mbeki and President Obasanjo a great deal, they both displayed good faith in a difficult situation at Coolum and I would expect both of them will do the same thing at our meeting in London.

JOURNALIST:

Thank you Prime Minister.

Transcript 12515