PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 12921


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: 18/07/2002

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 12921


Well thank you very much Mr Kyle, my parliamentary colleague Don Randall the Federal Member for Canning, Mr Mark Anderson the Chief Executive, ladies and gentlemen. I';ve never opened a wind turbine before in my life, I';ve never sort of pushed the propeller of a wind turbine before to get it moving so I was looking forward to getting up on a ladder and going like that. But the rain has prevented that occurring so I';ll symbolically declare it open and pull the cord on that curtain in a moment. But before I do that can I thank you for your very warm words of welcome, can I express my admiration for the way in which the Fairbridge organisation has changed and adapted with changing times and changing circumstances, but in the process kept faith with the original concept of providing opportunities for young people who have been denied the same chances and same opportunities of many other young people.

The pursuit of giving people a decent opportunity in life, of helping to put together the pieces of individual lives, that pursuit is about the most noble pursuit that any group of men and women can have in our community. And this organisation is a great example of that and it's a great example of what you were right to say Mr Kyle, I identified as one of the philosophical goals of my government, and that is the notion of a social coalition. And that is in order to solve many of the problems in our community you need to get the different sectors of our community working together and each contributing what they know and do best.

In the 28 years that I';ve now been in politics I hope I';ve learnt a number of things. And one of the things I believe I have learnt is that if you leave everything to the government you often get very bad results, and that is irrespective of whether it's a state government or a federal government, or whether it';s a Liberal Government or a Labor Government, if you leave everything to the Government you get very bad results. Governments can';t run businesses, governments are often remote and insensitive, they tend to look at things in terms of columns and figures and formal outcomes rather than in the human terms. Now that';s no disrespect to people who work in the public service, they';re dedicated men and women, it';s just the nature of an organisation. If you leave everything to the business community you get some good profits and some happy shareholders, which is good, I';m all for good businesses and happy shareholders. I';m a competitive capitalist, I believe in the capitalist system. But you sometimes get a very narrow focus. If you leave everything to the welfare sector, to volunteers, you get wonderful enthusiasm, you get tremendous spirit, you get great personal individual endeavour. But you don';t always have the resources, you don';t always have the business skills that are needed, you don';t always have the discipline that a Government approach and sense of responsibility to the overall welfare of the taxpayer producers.

So surprise, surprise if you put all of those groups together and you tackle the problem in a cooperative fashion you can get the best of all worlds. And for a long time we didn';t do that very well, we tended to say well this is the Government';s responsibility, this is the responsibility of the Salvation Army or the Society of St Vincent de Paul, or Fairbridge, or whatever, and we just leave it to them and we occasionally give them a tax deduction or something like that. But I think over the last few years we';ve begun to do things a lot better. And if you look here you have an example of the contribution of corporate Australia. I looked at the honour roll so to speak of contributors and benefactors as I drove past in the biodiesel powered bus. And I saw the names of the large companies, I mean Alcoa is an extraordinarily generous benefactor, and all the other companies here. And I understand that Alcoa is the owner of the property and therefore the landlord of the village. But all these other companies have contributed and so many individuals have contributed, and the Federal Government, I';m very proud that we were able to help with that Federation Fund grant and that was the sort of thing that the Federation Fund was established to help, it was to mark the Federation of Australia and this village was part of the history of this part of Western Australia and part of the history of a period, of the first 100 years.

But very importantly coming here today gives me an opportunity to meet some of the people that the Fairbridge organisation and the Fairbridge village is now assisting. And I hope the young people I';ve met today benefit. I want every young person in this country to have an opportunity of contributing and becoming a positive and strong contributor to our community. I remain sufficient of an idealist and an optimist to believe that if every person is given a decent opportunity they';ll want to contribute in a very positive way. And sadly some don';t get it, through no fault of their own. And it';s the role and the responsibility of governments and of this organisation and so many other around Australia to give them that opportunity.

I';ve just come back from spending 12 days in Europe and it';s a great experience to travel on behalf of your country as a Prime Minister does. And to learn of the respect and the esteem in which this country is held around the world. And one of the things that hits people in the face about Australia, and many things hit people in the face about Australia, I mean our sporting achievements hit people in the face on most occasions, and the strength of our economy. But the fact that we have a great volunteer tradition and people are still talking to me about the Sydney Olympics and it';s now almost two years and the reason, and one of the reasons they talk about it is there were volunteers. And can I say as somebody who you may have noticed I went to the Olympic Games just about every day to cheer all of the Australian competitors, and one of the great things about those games, which says a great thing about Australia is all the volunteers. And organisations such as this are really sustained by volunteers. People who could be doing other things with their time but they want to give a bit back to the community. They've been lucky, they';ve perhaps come through the Fairbridge organisation, I know there are a number of people here today who have, but otherwise people who just want to make a contribution.

So can I compliment the village and compliment the trustees and the board and particularly you Mr Kyle and Mr Anderson for the work that you do. Can I say that the cost benefit ratio is astonishing, I can';t believe those figures, and the figures of course are only one part of it but they';re an important part. The services to do cost money and it is true in every area that if people can be helped so that they don';t need the care and so forth of the state, not only are they enriched and bettered and given a better opportunity but the rest of the community has saved an enormous expense. I often say that the greatest social welfare institution that mankind has ever devised is a strong functioning family and where families are not strong and functioning if the community can provide something of a substitute then that is an equally strong and effective social welfare system. And it';s strong and effective in a personal and a spiritual sense and it';s strong and effective in an economic sense as the comparisons that Mr Kyle has made today have demonstrated.

So ladies and gentlemen, my congratulations to all of you, congratulations to those who';ve been involved in the rebirth and the resuscitation of the Fairbridge village and for all of those who';ve made that contribution I extend my congratulations and the ongoing good will and support of the Federal Government and I have much pleasure in declaring open my first wind turbine.


Transcript 12921