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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 20957

Interview with Steve Price, Radio 2UE

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: 13/10/2003

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 20957

PRICE:

Prime Minister, thanks very much for giving us some time.

PRIME MINISTER:

Pleasure.

PRICE:

It';s been a very emotional 24 hours. Just firstly, how have you personally coped and how has Mrs Howard coped with that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, of course, it';s been an emotional time for everybody, but any strain on us is minuscule compared with the strain that';s been endured by the people who have lost their sons and daughters, and husbands and wives, and brothers and sisters. And the whole purpose of the weekend has been to give comfort and support and reassurance to those people and I hope through a combination of things we';ve been able to do that and my sense is that we have.

PRICE:

I spoke to a woman who came up to you on the beach down at Kuta last night and she simply said to you, thanks for coming, it was important to her. Did you get that feeling ?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yeah I do, I think it was one of those occasions where they wanted to know that the rest of the nation continued to care. I said a year ago that there were 19.5 million hearts that had a little corner for each of them and I';d like to believe that that has continued and yesterday and the weekend was an opportunity to provide that reassurance.

PRICE:

Do you think in all the relatives you';ve spoken to and you';ve spoken to more than most, that they have been able to use yesterday and this period to move forward?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, I don';t think you ever when you';ve lost somebody violently and malevolently, you never achieve closure, you never forget. There';s always a gap, there';s always a lot of heartache, but perhaps yesterday helped people to cope with it more. That was the intention and in different ways, in the combination of things, with the service in the morning, in a magnificent setting, which had a nice mixture of traditions and, of course, at sunset with people gathering on the beach which was a fitting end.

PRICE:

I know how much you place importance on moments in history, and we don';t overstate this, but do you think the date and this place will become very important for Australians to come and visit?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes I do. I don';t think Australia will ever forget the 12th of October 2002. Not only did it involve the largest number of peace time deaths in a particular incident, but the circumstances in which it took place, the violent murder of so many people who were engaged in an entirely innocent activity and so many of them being young, that is always the hardest thing of all. It';s tragic when anybody is killed or dies but the older you are, I guess, the older you are the less tragically perhaps it might be seen.

PRICE:

The Security Minister, Yudhoyono';s speech yesterday very much hit the mark about now tackling this question of terrorism.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I thought it was very good to hear a senior Indonesian figure make such a very strong statement about terrorism and I know that there are many people [tapebreak] terrorist movement in this region whose objective is to destabilise the Indonesian state and it';s therefore very important to have strong statements against terrorism as well as strong activity from Indonesian leaders.

PRICE:

How do you balance the advice that the Australian Government still gives to Australians not to come to Bali with what we';ve been through in the last 24 hours?

PRIME MINISTER:

I thought you would ask me that and it';s a fair question. We came notwithstanding the fact that there is still an ongoing danger. We have an obligation to state the situation as it is and then people will make a judgement. I mean, I made a judgement and all of my fellow Australians who came made the judgement that the gesture of remembrance was more important than any danger. If you have non-essential travel to those places that have travel warnings, then you ought to give greater weight to the warning. I regarded this past weekend as being essential. It was essential in a national sense and it was essential in a personal sense. So in that way I don';t really see ultimately any conflict.

PRICE:

Australians have got to make up their own mind whether they come?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, in the knowledge that we have issued travel advisories and they have to assess the relative importance of their visit against the potential danger. I assessed on this occasion that the visit was more important than the danger.

PRICE:

You think we';re winning the war against terrorism?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think we';re making progress but it';s going to be long years before we can say it';s over.

PRICE:

The terrorists have been found guilty and imprisoned and they sit in the jail here in Bali. Do you have a view on when you would like the death penalty to be carried out?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, that';s a matter for the Indonesian Government. The imposition of the death penalty and if and when it';s carried out is entirely a matter for the Indonesian justice system, it';s not for me to get into the detail of that and we';re pleased that they';ve been punished in accordance with Indonesian law.

PRICE:

As we go forward, just finally, do we need to put more money as a country into a place like Bali? I mean, you have helped here with medical health services now. Do we need to do more?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, you can always do more everywhere in the world but we have made quite a big contribution to the Balinese health system, we thought that was the most practical living memorial. We have increased our aid to Indonesia over the last year and at the moment AusAID is looking at the direction of aspects of that aid.

PRICE:

Thank you very much for your time.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript 20957