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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 9705

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P.J.KEATING MP DOORSTOP, SHERATON BREAKWATER CASINO-HOTEL, TOWNSVILLE, MONDAY, 14 AUGUST 1995

Photo of Keating, Paul

Keating, Paul

Period of Service: 20/12/1991 to 11/03/1996

More information about Keating, Paul on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 14/08/1995

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 9705

q N
PRIME MINISTER
TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P. J. KEATING MP
DOORSTOP, SHERATON BREAKWATER CASINO-HOTEL,
TOWNSVILLE, MONDAY, 14 AUGUST 1995
E& OE PROOF COPY
J: Prime Minister, where is Carmen Lawrence now that she seems to
have lost her avenue for..
PM: Well, she hasn't lost the avenue, she hasn't lost the matter, it is a
jurisdictional matter where the High Court has said that the Western
Australian action she has, that process has to be complete before it
would be competent for the High Court to hear it. So, the matter of
substance is not yet determined. But, the legal options which she
might have will now have to be considered and no doubt she will do
that.
J: Are you happy to continue supporting her while she exhausts every
legal option that she has available to her?
PM: Of course I am because this process of the Royal Commission in
Western Australia is directed to extending the arm of the Western
Australian Executive and in this matter, she has taken the view and so
has the Federal Cabinet that the rights of MPs versus the Executive
are important ones. But again, I think, she has taken the view right
through that she is prepared to tell her story at the appropriate
moment.
J: Her affairs must be doing some damage to the Party?
PM: I don't think it is doing as much as the Liberal Party is doing to itself in
Western Australia. In Western Australia we have now a third person
hopping out of the Liberal Party on the weekend after Mr Rocher and
Mr Filing. Now, Mr Howard told everybody last week that he was
resolving the matter and he had this, as he said, this sort of mock
expulsion of Senator Crichton-Browne. Well, if that has assuaged the
fears of Western Australian MPs, Mr Rocher wouldn't have run as an
Independent, Mr Filing may have come back into the Party and

certainly the candidate for Swan wouldn't have shifted from the Liberal
Party to Independent status. I notice in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph
a story which says " Howard's strategy may backfire on him". Mr
Howard told all those gullible enough to believe him last week that he
had exercised authority and secured the agreement to push Senator
Crichton-Browne away from the processes of the Liberal Party. What
we now know is that this is untrue. It turns out that Mr Court and David
Honey prevailed upon Senator Crichton-Browne to remove himself
from the activities of the Liberal Party. After having found that out, Mr
Howard then put out a statement. In other words, it wasn't Mr Howard
who did that at all. Let me just say, and I am winking here, there is at
least one Canberra journalist who said to me if it is to be revealed that
Mr Howard was not central to Mr Crichton-Browne' s " removal" from the
Liberal Party, he would say so volubly in his medium Now is his
opportunity because Mr Howard has told an enormous porky here.
What he has done, basically, it is a very revealing article. It says that,
for instance, last week Mr Howard said ' I got rid of Noel Crichton-
Browne from the Liberal Senate ticket'. Senior Liberals dispute this.
They say Senator Crichton-Browne made his decision to stand down
from the Senate solely after discussions with the Western Australian
Premier and are adamant that Mr Howard had no influence on his
decision. Howard will say anything and he does. It goes on to say ' Mr
Howard's announcement banning Senator Crichton-Browne from party
meetings also came after he ( Crichton-Browne) had announced his
withdrawal from party affairs.
So, certainly this is hurting the Liberal Party in Western Australia and
what it shows is John Howard's weakness, indecisiveness, lack of
support for those who have supported him. By contrast, last week, I
said I was supporting Martin Ferguson. I made it clear that I would be
supporting him at the National Executive were it to have met today and
as you know that matter was resolved within the Labor Party with other
candidates withdrawing. So, again, let me just underline here John
Howard's duplicity and weakness in dealing with these people in his
Party in Western Australian over Senator Crichton-Browne. They are
leaving the Liberal Party in droves in Western Australia. There is a
real crisis there, a complete party split is on over there and let me
complete on those words by the former Senator Reg Withers when he
said there is a civil war on over there and that is exactly what is on in
the Western Australian Liberal Party.
J: Prime Minister, have you given any consideration or had any
discussions, even in private, about who might take over the health
portfolio..
PM: None, what so ever and I'm not considering it.
J: Would you be comfortable with Carmen Lawrence giving evidence at
the Royal Commission?

PM: Of course I would be comfortable with her giving her evidence in any
body. But, again, there is a matter of principle here about the rights of
the Executive and the rights of Members of Parliament and that will
probably run its full course.
J: Does Martin Ferguson go to the preselection for the seat of Batman as
damaged goods now?
PM: No, I think, the public are very shrewd assessors of these processes
and they see that Martin Ferguson represented working Australians
over a long period of time in the Miscellaneous Workers Union and
then as President of the ACTU and they would see it as a natural shift
for him to make a change to the Federal Parliament in the Labor Party.
This will be good for the Labor Party. It will make us stronger, it will
make the Government stronger and, again, it just renews that contact
we have had with working Australians, to have the leader of the
industrial movement in the federal caucus. So, I would think most
Australians will regard this as a sensible outcome and like me would
probably appreciate the commitment which was made by the other
candidates and the decision which they took to withdraw from the
contest.
J: of Independents, Phil Cleary, says he may run somebody..
PM: Well, good on you Phil, do your hardest. In a democracy you can put
your money, put your deposit down and it is everyone for themselves.
J: Have you written off the next election as a loss?
PM: Where do you get those questions for God's sake. I mean, has the
sun got to you?
J: Are you prepared to consider the plea by veterans from the pacific that
they get some personal reward?
PM: We have a mature system of supporting veterans and we have had it
in place now for a very long period of time and you might also know
that those who were particularly disadvantaged, prisoners of war, you
might have seen Tom Uren's remarks of a day or so ago, supporting
the Government in support of those people who did suffer at the hands
of the Japanese and Germans. But in the broad, of course, we have a
very mature system of assessment and support for veterans.
J: What about ones in the Pacific, in Papua New Guinea and Solomon
Islands?
PM: That is for the whole of the service in the Second World War. Thank
you.
ends

Transcript 9705