PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 15631

Doorstop Interview, Lowood Show Hall, Lowood

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: 17/04/2007

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 15631

Subject:
Shooting at Virginia Tech University in the US; drought; Newspoll; industrial relations; recycled water.

E&OE...

PRIME MINISTER:

Well ladies and gentlemen could I start the news conference by saying how saddened and shocked I am by the terrible shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech University in the United States. It is the worst mass shooting incident in the history of the United States and it is a dreadful event for the university, for those who've lost loved ones, and I, on behalf of the Australian Government and the Australian people extend my sympathy to the people of the United States, and particularly, to the families of those who've died at the hands of a crazed gunman. You can never guarantee these things won't happen again in our country. We had a terrible incident at Port Arthur. But it is the case that 11 years ago we took action to limit the availability of guns and we showed a national resolve that the gun culture, that is such a negative in the United States, would never become a negative in our country. That of course doesn't in anyway diminish the sense of condolence and grief we feel of such an incident which is an awful thing in a place that should be a sanctuary of learning, and friendship and social interchange. Beyond that, can I just repeat what I said in my speech, and that is that the opportunity to meet the irrigators, along with Peter Dutton at the Wivenhoe Lake this morning, to be reminded, by seeing it, just how grim and how stark it really is, brings home to me in the most graphic way the sort of difficulty that people are facing. And I had an opportunity of listening to the legitimate concerns of people, which I will take on board, and will remember in the future discussions I have with the Queensland Government, with my own Water Resources Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and with the government's of other states. Any questions?

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister you mentioned also this morning the $3 billion the Commonwealth is spending to buy back water allocations. Will that scheme extend to Queensland and to Queensland irrigators?

PRIME MINISTER:

It extends to all parts of the Murray-Darling Basin system.

JOURNALIST:

Which hasn't reached the (inaudible). When do you expect it to have ....

PRIME MINISTER:

Well until we get Victoria signed up, the thing can't go ahead. It's a three legged horse without Victoria and it really is about time the Victorian Government joined the rest of the states. I mean this is an Australian problem and I think Australians will go...will grow increasingly angry if people continue to behave as Victorians, or New South Welshman or Queenslanders, they want them to behave as Australians because it's a national problem that should be solved without regard to state borders. Rivers flow across state borders, the Great Artesian Basin lies under the borders of states and territories and it's about time that it is seen exclusively as an Australian problem.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister how do you respond to the latest Newspoll today?

PRIME MINISTER:

How do I respond to the latest Newspoll? I'm behind and I've got a lot of work to do, and I understand that, and I say to the Australian people, I have never taken you for granted, I don't take you for granted and I will work even harder to win the next election and to understand why it is that at the present time people through opinion polls are expressing a favouritism towards the Labor Party. I will take time to explain the consequences of having Labor governments at every level in Australia, because if we lose the next election there'll be no checks and no balances left in Australia's political system.

JOURNALIST:

How much weight do you think the Newspoll holds, I mean how worried are you about it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I've been in politics a very long time and I treat everything seriously, and in the end I'm in the hands of the Australian people. I will work very hard to retain their confidence. I have a very good team, I've got one of that great team standing beside me, Peter Dutton, who's done an outstanding job in a short period of time, he's what I call a very senior junior Minister and he's doing a great job for this district and also as Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Revenue.

JOURNALIST:

Are the polls a factor in when you decide to call an election?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh look I don't want to get into speculating when the election is. It's always around about three years or more or less after the last one.

JOURNALIST:

Excuse me Prime Minister what's your position on recycling water....

PRIME MINISTER:

My position on recycled water is, I favour it, I've favoured it for a long time and I'm happy to drink it, if anybody's got some for me I'll drink it.

JOURNALIST:

.....getting to the farmers of the Brisbane Valley...

PRIME MINISTER:

Well look, I am in favour of recycling across the board and I really believe that there's been some sort of old fashioned resistance to recycling water that owes, you know, has no basis in reason.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think water's been mismanaged in Queensland?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh I think every state government in Australia has mismanaged city water and mismanaged water in provincial areas as well. I mean what has happened is that water agencies, instead of investing in infrastructure, have handed over their revenue to state governments and I think that's wrong. It's happened in Queensland, it's happened New South Wales and it's happened in Victoria.

JOURNALIST:

If the farmers do not get this recycled water, how will it impact on food prices?

PRIME MINISTER:

Recycled water and food prices? Well if you don't have water, food prices will go through the roof because the food will get very short.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister there's a story in The Sydney Morning Herald today quoting some figures suggesting that 45 per cent of AWAs....

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes I know the figures, yes....what's my reaction?

JOURNALIST:

Yes.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I have no way of knowing whether those figures are correct, they didn't come out through the agency head. But I do know this, that even if they were correct they would only tell one side of the story because it's long been the case that people might give up their penalty rates, and this happened before WorkChoices, and they get something else in return. And unless you know the full picture you can't make a judgement.

JOURNALIST:

Will the Government release the OEA report?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well there's no OEA report.

JOURNALIST:

You welcomed Sue Boyce to the fold yesterday.....

PRIME MINISTER:

I beg your pardon?

JOURNALIST:

You welcomed Sue Boyce, the new Liberal Senator to the fold yesterday. Have you given up hope of a joint senate ticket in Queensland?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I would like there to be a joint Senate ticket between the Liberal Party and the National Party, I think it is the way to go, I think the conservative voting public in Queensland want the two parties to work together closely, they want them to work in coalition and in harmony and I continue to discuss this matter with my National Party colleagues. The Liberal Party on proper terms is in favour of a joint senate ticket, and those proper terms are known to the National Party, and although it's got it's difficulties, I'm still working on it and I'm still hopeful because I think it would look...it would enable us to fight a more cohesive united campaign on this occasion if we had a joint ticket. I think most Liberal and National Party supporters in this state that I talk to, and I talk to a lot, strongly favour a joint Senate ticket.

JOURNALIST:

Would you be willing to negotiate on those proper terms. It seems to be the National Party....

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I am talking to Mr Vaile and others about it and I think that's all I will say at the present time.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think Senator Boswell should have the number two spot?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I think.....

[ends]

Transcript 15631