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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 11763

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTERTHE HON JOHN HOWARD MPDOORSTOP INTERVIEW ON FLIGHT BETWEEN MELBOURNE AND BRISBANE

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: 10/10/2001

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 11763

Subjects: boat people.
PRIME MINISTER:
I put out a statement saying and Mekere Maurata is putting out a similar, contemporaneous statement. Can you hear me Dennis? Whereby Papua New Guinea is going to establish a processing centre, Papua New Guinea, and I';m sorry I couldn';t give you the statement before we took off but it had to coincide with the statement in Port Moresby and we will be a processing centre established in Papua New Guinea. The cost of it will be borne by the Australian Government and the people who are on HMAS Adelaide will effectively be transited through Christmas Island and taken to Papua New Guinea and we expect all of that to happen very quickly. The facility in Papua New Guinea will be, you know, used for these people and it may in fact be available for others as well if the need were to arise and after our need has been met then it would naturally revert in its state then to the Government of Papua New Guinea which has indicated it may need a similar centre for its own purposes. And the arrangement is very satisfactory so far as we are concentred.
JOURNALIST:
How much is it going to cost Prime Minister?
PRIME MINISTER:
I can';t tell you that.
JOURNALIST:
(inaudible).
PRIME MINISTER:
Well that is a matter for the PNG Government to announce. I know where but that';s a matter for them to indicate.
JOURNALIST:
Prime Minister are people going there today or tomorrow?
PRIME MINISTER:
I don't think it will today Ross, I think it';s more likely to be tomorrow or the day after. That will be a matter for the Navy and the authorities on Christmas Island to work out.
JOURNALIST:
Is the RAAF going to fly them?
PRIME MINISTER:
Very possibly yes.
JOURNALIST:
(inaudible).
PRIME MINISTER:
I understand that the process of disembarkation could be commencing about now.
JOURNALIST:
(inaudible) when are they arriving in PNG?
PRIME MINISTER:
I can';t tell you exactly.
JOURNALIST:
Tomorrow…
PRIME MINISTER:
Well when I get off this plane I';ll find out and let you know.
JOURNALIST:
How much of a stretch of is it Prime Minister on Navy and RAAF facilities having to performance these sorts of duties while we';ve got commitments elsewhere?
PRIME MINISTER:
Well we';re able to handle them all.
JOURNALIST:
How many people will this camp be able to hold in PNG?
PRIME MINISTER:
More than are on HMAS Adelaide.
JOURNALIST:
Can we handle them all (inaudible) period of time as an ongoing commitment.
PRIME MINISTER:
I expect we can handle it yes.
JOURNALIST:
How are they being taken there? By RAAF?
PRIME MINISTER:
Very likely.
JOURNALIST:
(inaudible)...
PRIME MINISTER:
Well that is a matter that we would have to discuss with the PNG Government. That is not something that we would presume. We have negotiated an arrangement with the PNG Government and its been agreed that these people from the HMAS Adelaide should go there as to any future illegal arrivals and that is a matter we would need to discuss with the PNG Government although it is my understanding that this new facility will have room for more.
JOURNALIST:
Prime Minister, is this a sign that the arrangement with Nauru has broken down…
PRIME MINISTER:
No it';s a sign, in fact the original arrangement with Nauru was further liberalised, extended is the correct expression.
JOURNALIST:
Is Australia negotiating with other countries?
PRIME MINISTER:
Well we talk to a lot of countries about a lot of things.
JOURNALIST:
Does that include Kiribati?
PRIME MINISTER:
Well Kiribati made an offer and I understand discussions are still underway but I don';t take it any further than that.
JOURNALIST:
Prime Minister is there any role with Mr Beazley, should you be consulting him…
PRIME MINISTER:
Well this had been done within existing policy. My chief of staff telephoned his office seeking Mr Michael Costello and he was not available but he spoke to another senior person in Mr Beazley';s office to inform him before the statement was issued. But I hasten to point out to you that this is something which is being done within existing policy. So the caretaker convention doesn';t require getting any approval.
JOURNALIST:
(inaudible)… have you received any additional information re the veracity of….
PRIME MINISTER:
Mr Reith has done a doorstop in which he';s dealt with that and I';ve spoken to Mr Reith and on the basis of what he';s told me there';s very strong evidence to support the claims that were made by Mr Ruddock and repeated by me. Very strong evidence.
JOURNALIST:
(inaudible)… to support what?
PRIME MINISTER:
To support the claims that were made by Mr Ruddock and repeated by me.
JOURNALIST:
What is that evidence?
PRIME MINISTER:
What is that evidence? Oh there are photographs and there';s other evidence as well.
JOURNALIST:
(inaudible)…
PRIME MINISTER:
I beg our pardon?
JOURNALIST:
Will you release the photographs?
PRIME MINISTER:
Well that';s a matter you have to discuss with defence. Mr Reith's office is handling that. And I understand he';s been in touch with most of your outfits in Canberra.
JOURNALIST:
Mr Howard does this mean that Christmas Island is considered a suitable transit point for any future arrivals? A transfer point?
PRIME MINISTER:
Well Christmas Island is no longer in the migration zone, but the question that I';m not going to give any particular imprimatur of being suitable or not suitable as a transit point for the purposes of this group of illegal arrivals. It will be used effectively as a transit point. But I don';t want to sort of say it';s always going to be like that.
JOURNALIST:
(inaudible)… is this facility going to be army?
PRIME MINISTER:
Well I understand the centre we';re talking about, it already had facilities there.
JOURNALIST:
(inaudible) see PNG becoming the main processing point for asylum seekers…
PRIME MINISTER:
No I';m not going to start grading it like that.
JOURNALIST:
I just wonder whether you (inaudible).
PRIME MINISTER:
Sorry didn';t hear that last bit.
JOURNALIST:
Just wondering whether you foresee any further asylum seekers going to Nauru…
PRIME MINISTER:
Well we are very grateful for the cooperation that we have already received from the Government of Nauru. I won';t say any more about Nauru. We';re very grateful. Nauru has been very cooperative and helpful and we are deeply in Nauru';s debt.
JOURNALIST:
(inaudible) facility being built in PNG. Relative to the Nauru facility, do you know whether it';s bigger or smaller?
PRIME MINISTER:
My understand is it';s larger.
JOURNALIST:
So will the facility…
PRIME MINISTER:
But there is already infrastructure there.
JOURNALIST:
But it will be upgraded by the Australian army.
PRIME MINISTER:
We will do a number of things and I think there are number of people who will be involved in that. We have a team up there that is already, we sent the team up there a couple of days ago and they';ve been discussing the matter with the PNG Government. But I can';t give you any more details than that at the moment.
JOURNALIST:
(inaudible)…private buildings or army buildings?
PRIME MINISTER:
Well look I';m not going to commit myself, it could be. It might not entirely be.
JOURNALIST:
(inaudible)… school or a hospital?
PRIME Mle)… school or a hospital?
PRIME MINISTER:
I beg your pardon.
JOURNALIST:
(inaudible).
PRIME MINISTER:
Look I can';t tell you where it is, that';s a matter for the PNG Government.
JOURNALIST:
Does Papua New Guinea anticipate flows of people across the border from Iranian Jaya?
PRIME MINISTER:
Well they';re not telling us that now.
Okay.
[ends]

Transcript 11763