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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 15630

Joint Press Conference with The Hon Morris Iemma, Premier of New South Wales Phillip Street, Sydney

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: 16/05/2007

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 15630

Subject:
APEC 2007

E&OE...

PRIME MINISTER:

Well ladies and gentlemen the Premier and I have called this news conference to say a few things about APEC. We've had a very good discussion about an event which will be a great event for Sydney and a great event for Australia. Both of us come from Sydney and we're both very proud of our magnificent city. It's one of the great international cities of the world and in September of this year it's going to be host to a conference which is very important economically to our country. I think everybody knows that close to, what, 70 per cent of our trade is with the member countries of APEC. It includes, of course, the United States, China, Japan, Korea and the importance of those countries to Australia's economy is immense and I see it as a wonderful opportunity to put our nation and our great city of Sydney on display to the rest of world and the Premier and I will be working together very closely to make this a hugely successful event for our city and for our nation. Now we don't intend to go into every last detail about the arrangements but I do want to assure the people of Sydney that life will go on as normal, although there'll be some inevitable interruptions because of the security issues involved. We can say that the railway station closures will be limited during the period of the conference, that's the Friday, the Saturday and the Sunday, to St James, Circular Quay and Museum stations. The North Shore line will remain fully open, the Eastern Suburbs line will remain fully open and at this stage we are hopeful that it will not be necessary at any point to close the Sydney Harbour Bridge. And the Carl Expressway will generally continue to operate. There will be some, when there are motorcades, there'll be some interruptions, but generally speaking it will continue to operate as will the Eastern Distributor.

Now there will be areas of the city essentially closed or subject to restricted entry because of the security implications, but we are working very, very closely with the New South Wales Police, and I want to place on record our appreciation at a Commonwealth level of the cooperation that we've received from the New South Wales Police to ensure that the disruption is at a minimum. I mean some disruption is unavoidable. The only way you avoid disruption is to say that Sydney is closed for business as far as major international gatherings are concerned and I would regard that as an astonishing thing for one of the great international cities of world, an astonishing attitude to take. And I think Sydney will handle this with its customary great capacity and flexibility. There will be a public holiday on the Friday, that is definite, the Premier and I have discussed this earlier and that is absolutely definite and we are both of the same view in relation to that. I mean obviously, legally, it's a matter for the New South Wales Government, but I did raise this issue with the Premier sometime ago, and he agreed, and it makes obvious sense to do it.

So I'm looking forward to this meeting. I think it'll be great event for our beautiful city and it will be a great event for Australia. It will be the most significant economic/ political gathering that this country has ever had. I mean when you think, you have the President of the United States, the President of China, Prime Minister of Japan, the President of Russia, the President of Indonesia, present here in beautiful Sydney, I think that's an important event and it's an event that we will all work very hard to make an enormous success. Morris.

PREMIER IEMMA:

Thank you Prime Minister. As the Prime Minister mentioned it's a big event for Australia's only global city. Our national reputation is on the line and New South Wales will be working cooperatively with the Commonwealth to deliver a great event. It's our job, it's our responsibility to deliver the measures that are required to ensure that APEC goes smoothly, our guests are given a traditional Sydney welcome, are welcomed warmly and generously. As I mentioned our national reputation is on the line and we're going to pull out all stops to ensure that it goes smoothly, and in that, to work cooperatively with the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth agencies, a task force has been established and it's been working for some time assessing the security arrangements that are required, and they are significant. I guess they're also a reflection of the times that we live in, that the security arrangements are required. We've got the world leaders here and we need to ensure their safety and their security, as well as that of our citizens, and that requires certain arrangements to be put in place. And as you've heard the three of the inner city circle stations will be required to be closed for the period that the leaders and the delegates are in Sydney, September seven, eight and nine, and that commences with the peak hour of Friday and ready for recommencement of normal services at those three stations come the Monday morning peak hour. The Prime Minister's mentioned there will be parts of the city in which access will be restricted and that too is for security and for safety, both of our guests and of the people of this city that are still coming into the city, may live in the city as well, and it's paramount that we provide for their security. It's a balance, it's a balance between ensuring a successful conference, a successful gathering and ensuring the safety and security of those who will be participating and at the same time, to minimise inconvenience and disruption, and to ensure that for those three days that everyone can go about their lives with a minimum of inconvenience and disruption recognising that there are extraordinary measures that have to be taken to provide for a successful APEC and ensuring the safety and security of not just the world leaders, but as the Prime Minister mentioned, there's some 6,000 officials, ministers, delegates, and we want to ensure that it's smooth and successful for them.

JOURNALIST:

Premier was there a need for you to explain or clarify comments made by your deputy about APEC several weeks ago?

PRIME MINISTER:

Didn't come up.

PREMIER IEMMA:

No.

JOURNALIST:

Didn't come up at all?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, no, moved on, moved on.

JOURNALIST:

You will recall at the time Prime Minister, did the Premier give you assurance to the contrary...

PRIME MINISTER:

It did not come up. The Premier and I are united on this. We intend this to be a great weekend for Sydney and Australia and it will be because this is Australia at its best on display to the rest of the world, and as both being Sydney boys, we intend to make sure that it works, and it works to the great credit of ours city and our nation.

JOURNALIST:

Premier you have repeatedly criticised the Federal Government for failing to give you a report of how things are progressing and give you the final details. Do you feel satisfied...

PREMIER IEMMA:

Well the meeting was a very good one and we've got the detail to ensure that we communicate to the public on the arrangements. Obviously there are matters that touch on security, individual security matters, they are not matters that we can discuss publicly, but we have sufficient material before us to proceed to the phase of communicating with the public in a spirit of cooperation.

JOURNALIST:

What are the tangible benefits as you see them Premier arising out of this conference for New South Wales?

PREMIER IEMMA:

Well the first one, we are on show to the world. We've got the world's leaders here, we are on show to the world, and look the calculations of how much it means to the economy of the city with 6,500 people coming for a certain number of days, well I will leave to the economist. But, the world's media are here, the world leaders here, their officials, it's a unique opportunity for Sydney and one that we will carry out as we've done in the past with major events. Now we have to do that, at the same time, ensuring everybody's security and that requires measures to be taken and as the Prime Minister mentioned, Sydney people are understanding and they have cooperated in the past, and I'd anticipate that the same level of understanding and cooperation would apply this time.

JOURNALIST:

Are you embarrassed though that your Deputy says it should be held in Canberra, you are now boasting about the benefits and he was pushing Canberra?

PREMIER IEMMA:

No, as you asked me a fortnight ago what John was, what John was communicating was in an open and honest way to tell people that there would be, there would be inconvenience, now we are moving to a phase of providing the residents of this city with details.

JOURNALIST:

Is there more, Premier, than just railway station closes, I mean can you flesh out this business of turning off the mobile phone signal?

PREMIER IEMMA:

Well I can't, obviously there are security measures that have to be taken when presumably you've got the President of the United States, that's not something that I am in a position to comment on further other than to say that normal communications will continue to apply. The areas where there will be a restricted movement as more detail comes to hand, we will release that to the public. So the starting is to make sure that the information is available so that people can make the adjustments that are required. But there will be restricted movements to certain parts of the city.

JOURNALIST:

So can you tell us how long will those mobile phone cells be down for?

PREMIER IEMMA:

No, I can't, I can't.

PRIME MINISTER:

I think it's fair to say in relation to that, and bearing in mind that telecommunications are a Commonwealth responsibility, that people are not going to be prevented from using their mobile phones.

JOURNALIST:

Could you tell us...

PRIME MINISTER:

No, look I am not going to get into the specifics of security matters, but I think any suggestion that normal communications won't continue to apply would not be appropriate.

JOURNALIST:

So you can you guarantee that...

PRIME MINISTER:

Can I guarantee what?

JOURNALIST:

That local emergency services frequency won't be disrupted by...

PRIME MINISTER:

What do you mean, police and ambulance?

JOURNALIST:

Yes.

PRIME MINISTER:

I am certain they will be able to operate to their full, efficient and helpful extent.

JOURNALIST:

Can you tell us who takes overall command of security arrangements, whether it be ASIO, counter-terrorism...

PRIME MINISTER:

We work together.

JOURNALIST:

But overall command?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well look we don't get into overall command things, you know, we are not having a turf war, we are Australians together, determined to make this work for the credit of our nation, and the credit of the great city of Sydney.

JOURNALIST:

Premier, are you concerned we may see again the high levels of public anger and frustration that we saw when Dick Cheney was in town?

PREMIER IEMMA:

What I'm confident about is that the people of Sydney will respond as they've done in the past when these sorts of events have occurred and the point about undertaking a communications strategy or campaign is to inform them. They quite rightly, not so much with Mr Cheney's visit, but quite rightly expressed their frustration when, for example, the ships came in when there weren't...when there wasn't the communication and that's part of our task is to communicate to people what changes there will be and as I've mentioned, Sydneysiders are very understanding and they're very cooperative when they know and that's my challenge is to communicate, and our agencies, with them on those changes so people will know and can make the adjustments and when we do that then the people of Sydney as you've seen in the past respond magnificently. And it's part of our concern for them obviously, we want to do the right thing for them.

JOURNALIST:

What would you say to anyone who plans to protest or to use this as a forum for protest given the G8 experience in Melbourne?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I have no doubt that the New South Wales Police working with the Australian Federal Police and working with other federal agencies will provide the necessary and appropriate levels of protection and security for our visitors. People have a lawful right of protest in this country, they do not have the right to use violence. They should not use violence, they should have some respect for the physical wellbeing and safety of police men and women who have an unenviable job in these circumstances but I think the New South Wales Police will handle the situation very effectively in cooperation with the Federal Police and ASIO. But in terms of manpower the greater bulk of the contribution obviously has to come from the state police force because the state police force has got the bodies.

JOURNALIST:

Premier, the Treasurer Mr Costa often speaks of the need to turn to Asia and the Pacific for ways in which New South Wales' economy can be stimulated. So to that extent what it, how will you be taking advantage of the presence of 21 Asia-Pacific leaders in Sydney? Would we be having a delegation representing the state as such to hook up with potential business partners?

PREMIER IEMMA:

Yes, at this point in time I'm engaged in, well we're organising an engagement with the Chinese President and this is a precursor to the Joint Economic Meeting which takes place later on which is very important for this state and China, our relationship, our bilateral relationship with China. So in that sense it's a good opportunity.

JOURNALIST:

With so much of the city closed down Premier, will there be a chance for the public to ever actually see Mr Bush? If they want to go down, not protestors, I'm talking about the public, they might want to go and enjoy the spectacle. Will there ever be an opportunity to see any of the leaders as they move around town?

PREMIER IEMMA:

Well the movements for those that, for example, might be living in the area that is a restricted movement area and that's why I say, we're seeking to strike the balance of on the one hand providing for the security of people like the President of the United States, our own Prime Minister and the other world leaders, and still as much as possible enabling people to go about their daily lives.

PRIME MINISTER:

People won't automatically be prevented from moving into restricted areas, there'll obviously be very heavy security in a number of the hotels where some of the higher security visitors will be staying, but in some of the other hotels there'll still be a mixture of normal guests and APEC guests. So, I mean, I would like the thing to work in a fashion that the very thing you're talking about can occur. Now that will obviously be influenced by whether the lunatics turn up. Now if they turn up and sort of make that more difficult well it makes, that's a pity but, you know, you have to make allowance for that but I have no doubt that the authorities will deal with that in an appropriate fashion. But you know, people have got a right in this country lawfully and peacefully and respectfully to protest and we've all experienced that over the years and I don't think anything's going to be any different. I'm very optimistic, this is going to be a great event for Sydney. It's an enormous credit for this beautiful city and as a lifetime resident of the place I'm looking forward to it.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, what warm and fuzzy pictures are you going to plan to welcome the, or opportunities you might, will we see the President of the United States with a koala. I mean...

PRIME MINISTER:

You're trying to get me to give a sneak preview of the gear. Well all I can say is it will have a distinctly Australian flavour and I'd better say no more than...

JOURNALIST:

Is your wife helping design it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well my wife has great taste when it comes to these things and she's a constant source of counsel and good advice in relation to all matters of hospitality and so forth, but I draw on a lot of experts but..

JOURNALIST:

Premier, since September 11 New South Wales has spent millions improving the security of Sydney in particular although the Prime Minister has been all over the news to identify Sydney as a particular target. Are you satisfied that the cost of the security for APEC has enough equity built into it in terms of the resources this state is pouring into what is after all a national and international event?

PREMIER IEMMA:

Yes, there's a memorandum of understanding and there's been good cooperation on that front and good progress.

JOURNALIST:

Premier, what is your advice now to locals during the APEC period if they need to come into the city or use the airports or any of those sort of facilities?

PREMIER IEMMA:

Well to as much as possible go about their daily lives, understanding though that at this point in time there's, we're announcing that there'll be three of the inner city, the city circle stations and those services won't be operating. It's a public holiday and there'll be parts of the city in which movement will be restricted, obviously to provide for the security of our guests and also of our citizens so my advice would be to heed the information that will be made available and people can make their own decisions then as to their own movements.

PRIME MINISTER:

There'll be detailed maps published in newspapers and all sorts of communication of that kind over the weeks and months ahead and we're just sort of giving you the, just sort of a bit of a taste, a few of the highlights of the arrangements. But there'll be enormous information and great detail provided and you shouldn't assume that you, you won't, particularly if you live in one of these apartment buildings in this area, you'll still be able to go...come and go from there and obviously we're not going to muck people around to that extent and I think you'll find that the traffic flows, particularly given that they'll be public holidays, public holiday on the Friday and a nice long weekend I think it will go extremely well.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, given that we're in an election year what role if any would Kevin Rudd play in APEC?

PRIME MINISTER:

Whatever role is appropriate for an Opposition Leader.

JOURNALIST:

Will he be included in any of the talks at all or...

PRIME MINISTER:

Well whatever normally happens. I mean, normally when, I mean, when I was Opposition Leader I don't recall that I was involved in sort of a joint meeting with foreign visitors. I will extend the same courtesies to Mr Rudd as were extended to me when I was an Opposition Leader and I do that. I might say in relation to a number of arrangements I've extended more courtesies to the four or five Opposition Leaders that I've dealt with over the last 11 years than were extended to me and this particularly applies in relation to things like troop farewells and welcome home. I've certainly been a lot more courteous and willing to include the Opposition Leader in those than was the case when I was an Opposition Leader some years ago.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister you say the bridge is likely to not be closed down, does this mean no beers with George Bush on the laws of Kirribilli?

PRIME MINISTER:

No. Just to borrow a phrase of another Bush, just and I won't say read my lips, but I say just listen to what I had to say. Look I'm not going to talk about the arrangements that I'm going to make and obviously the President will be paying a bilateral visit to Australia and there'll be some discussions. And bear in mind that, sort of around APEC there'll be a number of bilateral visits, which involve, you know, separate interaction. The President of Russia will be paying a bilateral visit, and the Chinese President, and the American President, the Canadian Prime Minister and the Japanese Prime Minister, so it's going to be a pretty busy time. But our aim is, and we're pretty hopeful about this, is that it will not be necessary to close the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Now that's quite an important thing, that's our aim and we're pretty optimistic on that front. But as to where I might be having a beer with somebody, and I will be having a beer with a number of people, I don't want to get too specific.

JOURNALIST:

On another topic....

PRIME MINISTER:

Who me?

JOURNALIST:

Yes.

PREMIER IEMMA:

That's usually reserved for me.

JOURNALIST:

It's about a month since your dire warning about Murray-Darling and the need for more rain. Do you have an update on that, is it still a worry?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh it's still a worry because it hasn't rained enough. It's a worry for all of us. I mean this is...this affects all of us, this drought, and you know I say without any hint of irony, you should all continue to pray for more rain because we need it, we need it very, very badly.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister on Telstra, Telstra today said your Government has let the people of Australia down on broadband, what's your reaction to that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well if Telstra has said that, Telstra is wrong, and it ought to have a look at Market Clarity, is the name of that organisation that had something to say and basically debunked the attack that's been mounted by a number of people, and I don't, I really don't want to bring party politics into this because the Premier and I are, you know, working together on this issue of APEC, but there have been criticisms made of broadband services in Australia. According to Market Clarity they're a lot better then has been bruited around, it doesn't mean to say they're perfect, we still have a long way to go, but my view is that the taxpayer shouldn't have to pay for something that will return a wonderful commercial bonanza to whoever provides the service. And we don't believe in raiding the Future Fund and taking $2 million from the farmers in order to pay for something that the market in time will return a handsome dividend to whoever invests in it. And while I'm on those matters, can I just say that today we learned that the consumer confidence in Australia has reached a 32 year high. So not only does Australia have a 32 year low in unemployment, it has a 32 year high in consumer confidence and that is very, very good news because it shows that consumers are confident, they're more relaxed about interest rates, the wages figures that came out today are very reassuring as far as inflation is concerned, now all of that is good and can I.....

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister...?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes.

JOURNALIST:

Kevin Rudd announced today that he won't be meeting the Dalai Lama, do think that's quite hypocritical given his previous criticism?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes.

JOURNALIST:

Why won't you be meeting....

PRIME MINISTER:

Well my position is I'm looking at my diary and, but could I just say that I sort of dealt with this issue some years ago. You may remember that when the Dalai Lama came to Australia in 1996-1997 it was obvious the Chinese did not want me to meet him and I did. So I think I've sort of made the point. You can't have a situation where you're always meant to meet anybody who comes to the country. Now I'll have a look at my diary but I mean I have met the Dalai Lama, I've made the point and I haven't made a song and dance about whether other people should meet the Dalai Lama and I'm not making any comment. But it is true that my opponent did have something rather savage to say about Alexander Downer being gutless and everything for not meeting the Dalai Lama a few years ago, now that has sort of come back, well that happens in politics doesn't it? Before we finish this news conference I'd like to present the Premier, Morris this is the first presentation of an APEC tie so, from me to anybody, so I make it to you.

PREMIER IEMMA:

Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER:

You might say we're tied together on this one, thank you.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister one last question, on the Murray-Darling if I could, that there's reports today saying that your advisers seriously overestimated the amount of water in the Murray-Darling, by 40 per cent, is that correct?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I think Malcolm Turnbull dealt with that matter this morning and I think he's put it into perspective. Thank you.

JOURNALIST:

Premier, does John Watkins pull out a tie or a noose?.

PREMIER IEMMA:

Sorry does John...

JOURNALIST:

How does John Watkins describe it?

PREMIER IEMMA:

Well John wears the blue very well, so I think he'd think it's a very nice tie.

PRIME MINISTER:

The colours not too bad, red and white would be better.

Transcript 15630