PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 11765

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTERTHE HON JOHN HOWARD MPVOICE FM, BALLARAT

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: 11765

Subjects: Election 2001.
JOURNALIST:
On his way to Ballarat this morning is the Prime Minister, John Howard. Good morning Mr Howard, how do you do, good morning.
PRIME MINISTER:
I am very well Gary.
JOURNALIST:
Thank you so much for talking to Voice FM, we are a local community radio station. I know that they are not on your agenda always to have community broadcasters. But I know you believe also how important we are in the community as a media outlet.
PRIME MINISTER:
Well I do and I have, over the years, taken a lot of opportunities to be interviewed by community broadcasters, not only in the cities but more particularly in the regional areas so I welcome this opportunity to talk to you and to your listeners.
JOURNALIST:
Mr Howard I can';t get over the tight security today on your visit to our city. We saw footage, vision on television last night of their cafuffles in Melbourne yesterday but I cannot remember a visit to country Victoria being so secure, sir. It';s concerning to all of us and it must be to you as well.
PRIME MINISTER:
Well we';re living in a period of time where you';re damned if you do and you';re damned if you don';t. If additional security is not taken in the light of what';s going on now and given Australia';s very proper and necessary association with America, if you don';t take security arrangements at a higher level and something goes wrong then people get blamed but when you do people raise some objections and say that isn';t it a great shame that Australia now has to have so much more security. I have to say to you though that tight though you may think security is in Australia now around political leaders it is infinitely more liberal and easier than it is say around the President of the United States or other leaders of other countries. We still have an easier approach here but we have to accept the reality that the world has changed unhappily since September and unless there are responses then the Government is open to very legitimate criticism. And the concern of course is not only for the political figures, that';s part of it, but the concern also is for installations and infrastructure because we can';t be certain that Australia won';t be subjected to terrorist attack although the risk is lower here than in other countries.
JOURNALIST:
Well Mr Howard, of course from September the 11th, the world certainly changed. The feeling becoming is more and more so each day now that the commitment of Australia to this situation overseas is so necessary, however, what is a war on terrorism is believed to be by so many now isn';t it, to become almost like a holy war in itself.
PRIME MINISTER:
Well it';s not, it';s certainly not from the point of view of America and it';s not from the point of view of Australia. This is not a war on Islam, this is a war on evil people. Decent Muslims are as horrified about what happened on the 11th of September as you are and I am. Any suggestion that this is a holy war is quite wrong. It is not a holy war, it is not a religious conflict. That kind of behaviour has no place in any of the world';s great religions.
JOURNALIST:
Mr Howard, another international issue before we look at a couple of local ones. Papua New Guinea is the latest recipient to, perhaps to be a destination of the asylum seekers. Where is this going to end?
PRIME MINISTER:
We haven';t made any announcements about that. I saw that speculation. But what I can say at this stage is that there are some options being looked at and when the government is in a position to say something we definitely will. We are determined to deter illegal immigration to this country, we';ll continue a good immigration program which has a genuine refugee component. But we';re not going to have a situation where people can simply present themselves at our borders and force entry without having gone through a proper immigration and refugee assessment process. That is not acceptable to Australia. You ask when will it end. It will end when it no longer takes place. Until that occurs we will continue to use whatever legitimate, humane means are at our disposal to stop illegal immigrants presenting themselves on the Australian mainland.
JOURNALIST:
Thirteen past ten here at Voice FM, we';re talking to the Prime Minister John Howard. Mr Howard, talking security earlier, Labor';s five point plan released today in the press here, with $220 million going to Australian Coast Guard Service.
PRIME MINISTER:
Well if you look at the Australian Coast Guard ….you find that there is a very good article on it in the Melbourne Age by Tim Colebatch in which he makes the point that there is only about another $15 million in new money. What this Coast Guard proposal will do is to take existing assets out of the Royal Australian Navy and Customs and put them in this new Coast Watch body. It will incidentally deprive young Navy persons of the necessary training on patrol boats which is a very important element of their training. It is just an administrative reshuffle and in any event it';s estimated in Mr Colebatch';s article that 98.5% of illegal immigrants, 98.5 per cent of those coming to Australia are intercepted by our existing arrangement. So what is it that Mr Beazley is endeavouring to tackle at such a significant cost to the operational efficiency and training requirements of the Royal Australian Navy. The idea of taking assets away from the Royal Australian Navy and putting them under some other kind of command and control at the present time is quite unacceptable to me and we won';t have a bar of it.
JOURNALIST:
Prime Minister what is your view on Labor';s 9.1 million over four years to add to tighten airport security, it';s an interesting one as well.
PRIME MINISTER:
Well, most of that appears to be just …(inaudible)….. JOURNALIST:
No we';ve lost him, I thought that might happen.
[break]
Yes we have got John Howard back. Thank you Sir, good to have you back. There you go. I was just saying we have a major problem in our area with mobile phones and you have just been a part of it there.
PRIME MINISTER:
The highway coverage is a lot better now than it was and we are continuing out of the proceeds of the sale of the second part of Telstra, we are continuing to put more resources into regional communication.
JOURNALIST:
Well that will be good to hear. Now you heard the news this morning no doubt about Optus and the sale of Optus.
PRIME MINISTER:
The sale of Optus
JOURNALIST:
Yes, the sale of Optus overseas. It was on the news at 10 o';clock this morning.
PRIME MINISTER:
No I did not hear that no.
JOURNALIST:
Well we will pass that on to you in a moment. What about the other issue of Ansett Airlines and also mentioned at 10 o';clock this morning that Singapore Airlines could well take over Ansett by the weekend.
PRIME MINISTER:
Well, I am aware that [inaudible] the government has already made it possible for the planes from Ansett that are now flying around to get back into the air. If it had not been for our ticket guarantee and our insurance guarantee none of those planes would have been flying. And we have also provided a guarantee for the workers entitlements. So we are very keen to help but in the end it has got to be a commercial operation. It is not realistic unless the airline can make money. You can';t run an airline, particularly in the more difficult economic circumstances of recent weeks unless it is commercially viable. Now I believe that a smaller more efficient Ansett with competitive circumstances can be a proposition and obviously some businessmen and women feel the same way and in the end it is a matter for them because it has got to be a commercial proposition. We';ll help with things like the entitlements and things like ticket guarantees in the interim and providing back up insurance. They are the sort of things that in these circumstances Government should do. But in the end it has got to be a commercial proposition.
JOURNALIST:
Well Prime Minister, delightful to talk to you this morning and we do appreciate you being first with us here in Ballarat on your community leader Voice FM. Now you have a very busy day in Ballarat even on a brief visit. I know it is all tightly organised and there is tight security, enjoy it and thank you for your time today.
PRIME MINISTER:
You are very welcome Gary, thank you. Bye Bye.
[ends]
Bye.
[ends]

Transcript 11765