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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 21208

Doorstop Interview Beresfield, New South Wales

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: 16/04/2004

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 21208

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard, [inaudible] Australian aid worker Donna Mulhearn?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I';m very pleased that she is safe and sound, but she was very foolhardy. I think people have to understand that when they take unnecessary risks, they';re not only putting their own lives at stake but they';re also putting at stake the lives of many other people and it is just not acceptable and I would be failing in my duty to the rest of the Australians who are in Iraq if I didn';t say in the bluntest possible sense, it is not fair on others to behave in a careless and foolhardy fashion. No matter what your views may be, there others to be considered, there is your family to be considered, there is the Australian community in Iraq to be considered. But thank God she';s safe. That';s what I have to say about it and I feel that very strongly and I believe most Australians would feel the same way.

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible] comments in the Sydney Morning Herald today that she was over there telling people she';s out to unearth you [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, look, I';m not interested. I';m interested the safety of Australians and what she did was put not only her own safety at risk but that of others and I condemn the irresponsibility whilst expressing gratitude that she is safe and sound.

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible] mean that there';s an increased risk of maybe more Australians being …?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, if you behave in a foolhardy fashion in an unsafe environment, then the likelihood of you being hurt or captured or even killed is the greater. But it';s not only your own life you put at risk it';s others, and the anxiety you cause your family. So I just say again in the strongest possible terms that irresponsible behaviour, whatever the cause may be, is not acceptable and should be criticised.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think she should come home?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I';ve said all I can say about it. I think my message is very clear.

JOURNALIST:

One person';s now been charged under the new terrorist act. That obviously is welcome news?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I don';t want to prejudice the case. That man is entitled to the proper processes of the law. I simply make the point that we have changed the law to further protect Australia and his arrest is a reminder that we are living in a different environment. But as to whether he';s innocent or guilty, that is a matter for the courts not for me.

JOURNALIST:

… new terrorism laws are working?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I don';t want to comment on an individual case beyond what I have said. You know that is not proper and I don';t intend to do it.

JOURNALIST:

… praising the work of the federal police, though…

PRIME MINISTER:

I always praise the work of the federal police.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard, any idea when you';re going to call the election…?

PRIME MINISTER:

No.

JOURNALIST:

Reported on AM, Amanda Vanstone likened aboriginal self-determination to apartheid in South Africa. Do you agree with that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I didn';t hear the interview. Certainly, I agree very strongly with the notion that all Australians should be treated equally and where there is disadvantage we should remedy that disadvantage by special programmes and there is no section of the Australian community more disadvantaged than aboriginal people. But the ATSIC approach, which was to have separate representation to an elected body, has not worked. It';s been a failure and we think the aboriginal people will be better off as a result of the changes that we have made and I want to make it clear that there will not be less money for aboriginal affairs in the forthcoming federal budget. In fact there will be more.

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible] situation for South Africa?

PRIME MINISTER:

I';ve answered the question.

JOURNALIST:

Premier Carr said he was forced into a mini budget due to withdrawal of $376 million?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Premier Carr has got to accept responsibility for his own failures. He likes to assert his independence but when it comes to accepting responsibility, he tries to blame the Commonwealth money. We have given New South Wales more money not less money and the tax slugs in the New South Wales budget are Mr Carr';s responsibility and nobody else';s and I';ve got a message for the people of New South Wales – if Carr does that to you, think what a Latham Labor Government would do to you.

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible] changes you';ve made in taxes…?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Mr Carr can';t have it both ways. He can';t assert his independence and strut the stage in an important manner but when it comes to any bad news it';s always somebody else';s fault. I think Australians can identify somebody who';s shirking his responsibilities. If something goes wrong on my watch, I cop the blame for it. If something goes wrong on Mr Carr';s watch, he should cop the blame for it as well. And New South Wales services are going wrong on Mr Carr';s watch and there is nobody else to blame except Mr Carr. Could I just take the opportunity while I';m on New South Wales to say how much I welcome the improvement in the crime statistics and I believe that one of the reasons those statistics have improved is the tough attitude the Federal Government has taken towards heroin. We have worked co-operatively with the states and I thank the states for that co-operation [inaudible] zero tolerance approach does work and those statistics are proof that it does work. Thank you.

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible] going to open the private hospital this afternoon. What can you offer the people of the Hunter?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we have already done a lot. The MedicarePlus package has been of enormous benefit because we are increasing by $5 for consultations, bulkbilling of children under 16 and concession card holders, we';ve introduced a new safety net that means that if your out of pocket expenses go over $300 a year for most families, $700 for the rest, you get 80 per cent of the excess paid for by Medicare. We';ve introduced measures to bring more doctors into the area, more practice nurses into the area. And importantly, we are absolutely committed to the maintenance of private health insurance and the Labor Party opposed private health insurance, the tax concessions when they were brought in and there';s a real threat that if you have a Labor Government they will either get rid of the private health insurance rebate or severely means-test it.

[ends]

Transcript 21208