Doorstop Interview Melbourne
Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007
Release Date: 21/03/2006
Release Type: Interview
Transcript ID: 22179
So you had a phone call from George Bush this morning?
Yes the President rang to express his concern about the Cyclone Larry in North Queensland and to enquire about the extent of the damage and said that if there was any assistance that we needed, the United States would be willing to provide it. Of course we are able ourselves to look after this. But it was a very generous, thoughtful gesture on his part and I thank him for it. We also took the opportunity to discuss a number of issues. We talked about the situation in Iraq. We both agreed that the sooner there was a government formed in Iraq, representative of all of the interests, the better. We also talked about developments in relation to Iran, the recent nuclear power agreement between the United States and India and a number of other issues affecting the world. But most of our non-cyclone discussion related to Iraq and Iran.
And in terms of Cyclone Larry, were there parallels made to Hurricane Katrina?
No we didn't draw that comparison. I think the President having gone through that experience is conscious of the impact that these natural disasters can have on local communities. Fortunately we in Australia have not suffered any deaths, there have not been any fatalities, and I hope that remains the case. There has been a lot of damage and I'll have the opportunity of inspecting that first hand when I go to North Queensland tomorrow.
Okay. And in terms of the extent of the suffering, what do you think, I mean have you put a dollar figure on it yet?
No I haven't, I'm getting advice on that and I'll have something more to say, both about our assessment of the extent of the damage and also the Federal Government's response over and above the arrangements that we have with the Queensland Government. We're working very closely with the Queensland Government and all the information I have is that the assistance is getting through very well and I want to thank all of the emergency services, the military, the Queensland Police and everybody who has worked so very hard to help the people who've been left homeless and there's a lot more to be done and I hope to have more to say about that when I go to North Queensland tomorrow.
But in terms of the farming industries, what sort of dent do you think that's put in there?
Well I'm not going to put a figure on it at the moment. Obviously there's been a lot of damage. It's too early to start throwing figures around, it really is, it's less than two days since the cyclone struck and at this stage it's altogether too early to start putting figures on it. The damage has been extensive. The support will need to be significant and it will be.
And what did George Bush say when you were talking about...India and the talks there?
Well we talked about the nature of the agreements and the reasons why he entered into it and the advantages of India's civil nuclear capacity being placed under international inspection. We both agreed that was a very significant step forward and we both of course agreed that India is going to bulk much larger in the affairs of the region because of the enormous economic growth that country is enjoying.