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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 10243


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: 16/02/1997

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 10243

Fax from 4?
BOLGER: Can I just say thank you for comning. Prime Minister Howard and myself of course have
had an iniformal chat that has continued since we met at Ohakea yesterday morning and,
as anticipated, there are certainly no big issues between us. We've got a number of
issues that we have a common interest in and we will continue to discuss those over the
next 24 hours or so, but it's been a very, very pleasant opportunity to talk to John about
the issues that arc important to Australia, about the issues that are of importance to both
our countries, and for me to perhaps explain how we are bringing together the new
Coalition Government and aWl of that. So, good chat.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister Howard, what sort of issues, have you so far talked about?
Oh, just about everything,
We had four-and-a-half hours of very friendly, very informal, very informative
discussions. One of the good things about our association at a personal level is the
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capacity to razWg over the whole gamut of domestic and foreign affirs issues. Jim
Bolger, of course, was the first oversas leader to speak to me after the electon. We've
seen each other on three Occasions since we've spoken regularly on the telephone.
Through that association, there's the basis of strengthening in evezy way the already very
close association between our two countries. I certainly find the opportunityto compare
notes on domestic political issues and also to look at our joint efforts within the region.
In most area we have a very common view, although on some occasions inevitably
there's a different emphasis here and there because of the different interests of our
countries, but I thought last night was about as good as it ever gets, as far as the
informality and the friendly exchange of excpernmnce that you can get between two
policitical leaders. Of course, im and I share, through our respective parties the
Nationals in New Zealand and the Liberals in Australia many common values and
common philosophies, and we also ecvhanged a few notes on the vagaries of Coalitions,
which is something that I'm a veteran of.-Coalition Governments.
BOLGER: That's right, yes. More experienced than us.
JOUR1NALIST: Did you discuss the Australian experience of gun control, in light of recent tragic
circumstances here?
HOWARD: We touched vety briefly on that last night. I imagine that will come up. That, of course,
is I'm only too happy to talk about the expeionces that we had but, as in all things,
that's a matter for the New Zealand Government. But if I can be of any help in that area
and if any of my experience of last year and the experience of the Australian people
following Port Arthur is of any help in current circumstances in New Zealand, well, I
would only be too happy to help.
JOURNALIST: Are you concerned at New Zealand.' s defence spending, how it's sort of dwindled over
the past eight years?
HOWARD: Oh look. I baven't come here to son of give lectures to people. We have our attitudes
and I'll be saying something in the more formal setting of the discussions tomorrow in
the address that I'm giving, but we will be talking about that in the discussions, along
with a lot of other things, but I'm not a I don't come here as ' lecturer Howard', I come
here as ' allied friend Howard',
JOURNALIST: M& Bolger, would you like to follow Australia's lead on gun control?

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BOLGER3. Well, at the tune of the tragedy last week, of COUrse we already had in train a review of
our gun laws. So, no doubt, whatever lessons may be learned from that tragedy,
whatever might emerge in terms of the discussions that follow and the inevitable trial,
will no doubt be taken into account In New Zealand, but you may be aware that we
changed and tightened our gun control after the Aromoana tragedy of 1990. So, we had
moved quite substantially to control the use of multi-weapoN, multi-fidnzg bullets, multifiring
guns, the old AK 47 lookalikes and all of those. So that's already very tight in
New Zealand. But if there's anything we can learn from Australia, if there's anything we
cam lean from the report that's being conducted now by a former High Court Judge,
well, we will certainly do so.
JOURNALIST: MW Howard, have you discussed whether is there something Australia can learn ftrm
New Zealand in that area and just one quick one on after the talk the other day, there
was concen from some of the parties that your hope of doing it by Easter could be
ambitious. Are you flexible on that?
HOWARD: Well, I don't want to talk about domestic issues specificay here. Look, on the question
of shared experiences with native title issues, we in fatct did spend a lot of time talking
about that last night. in fact, it occupied as much, if not more, time than any other
subject. The experience of New Zealand and Australia is different. The legal basis of
the relationship between the indigenous people of Now Zealand and the indigenous
people of Australia has been quite different. I thought we had a very for me, that was a
very valuable discussion, I suppose in all of these things you can learn things from each
other's VEperience. We are endeavouring in Australia, of course, to see if there is the
basis of an agreed outcome and that's the purpose of-
BOLGER: All of us are ultimately controlled by the.. .( inaudible)...
HOWARD; Having initiating discussions. I don't want to get into any discssion at this stage about
the relevance of dates. We still have a long way to go, and rm under no illusions about
how difficult it is. But the New Zealand experience has been very different, and because
of that different legal starting point, and, Of course the relative size of the indigenous
population has also been a major facor as well.
BOLGIER: Can I just say on tha. I think we had, as Primne Mnister Howard said, an excellent
discussion on what is one of the most complex issues for both our countries, and that is
how we deal with the indigenous people's rights and aspirations, and the range of that
discussion, I thought, was tremendous.

Fax-from HOWARD:
It was excellent.
BOLGER: In terms of just looking at it ina a totally non-partisan, non-doctriniaire way and saying,
look, there are issues. We were talking about our New Zealand experience, John
Howard is talking about the Auistralian experience as it's emerging now, the involvement
of the courts in both countries and setting some parameters and some guidelines for
goveilazents. It is a complex issue, dare I say it, and we in New Zealand know that and
you in Australia know that.
JOURNAIZT:, Gentlemen, did you discuss your difing views on a Republic?
BOLGER: No. we didn't, but we did discuss the fact that Australa of course is going to have the
Convention that John Howard promised beforehand, and that we, of course, are in the
process of a constitutional change of same enormous significance here, with the move to
proportional elections and now the first elected Coalition Government for 60 years, so
we certainly had general discussions on political structures, and they were interesting. I
have to say I find that whole constitutional debate an interesting development in both
countries, and I'd have to saylI don't think we've heard the last of it here, arnd I surmise
not in Australia.
JOURNALIST: What about on the Social Welfare front? Are you looking at legislation to make
BOLGMR Didn't get onto that, Duncan.
JOURNALIST: A two year stand down period? You haven't talked about that?
No, we didn't.
HOWARD: Oh, we didn't dicuss that last night. Farxom 16/ 02/ 97 11: 17 Pg: 4

fax trom 16/ 02/ 97 11: 17 Pg:
a r BOLGER: No, no.
JOURNALIST: It's not on the agenda?
HOWARD: Well, anything's on the agenda that either Minister it's the sort of relationship that if
there's anything on Jim's mind that he wants to raise, he wilL If there's anything on my
mind that I want to raise, I will, but that specifically was not discussed last night,
BOLGER: No, I think you've got enough now for today. Look, you've done extraordinarily well.
HOWARD: That's right.
BOLGER: You've got far more than I thought, and I feel like a walk. Thanks a lot. TOTAL

Transcript 10243