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Transcript 11982

Interview with Tracy Grimshaw, Today Show

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: 26/03/2001

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 11982

Subjects: National Drugs' Campaign Launch; Memorial Service for Sir Donald Bradman.

E&OE................................

GRIMSHAW:

Good morning. Clearly you think that parents are an under-utilised resource in fighting the drug problem, but I guess most parents would say that they do as much as they possibly can.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well most of them do Tracey, I'm not suggesting for a moment that parents are falling down on their job, I'm merely and the Government is encouraging parents even more because they are in the end the people who can most influence their children. 70% of children in the survey we did for this campaign said that they would be influenced by their families and this is a resource that is there twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and what I am saying to Australian parents is redouble your efforts to talk to your children in the appropriate way and the booklet we send out in a non-hectoring fashion suggests ways in which that may occur.

GRIMSHAW:

So that if a parent manages to steer a child through adolescence without the child developing any sort of a drug problem, how much of that is good luck and how much is good management?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well like everything in life it's a combination of the two, Tracey. I know people who've tried hard and had sadness with their children. I know others who've tried hard and been extremely successful. But on the law of averages, if you spend more time with your children, if you develop a good communication with your children you can influence them. And I am not, this is not some divine revelation, I mean we've known this for, from the beginning of time, I am merely making the point that in the end it's what is always available in a costless way that is the resource of the affection and the influence of parents that still determines human behaviour far more than anything else. And I think we sometimes, in an age which is obsessed with experts and focus on particular ways of doing things we lose sight of that simple fact that the people who are nearest and dearest to you in the end can most influence your behaviour.

GRIMSHAW:

Did you ever sit down and talk to your kids about drugs specifically.

PRIME MINISTER:

It's something that would come up in conversation. I mean my view is that if you say to children 'come and sit down we're going to talk about drugs' in many cases they'd run a mile. It's something you have to insinuate and if you have a good communication with your children, if you are parents who regularly talk to your children in a way that sets limits but equally in a way that doesn't moralise and hector than you can insinuate and introduce into those discussions all sorts of things. You don't look back and say, well I don't look back and say 'well I remember the night we had a talk about drugs', it's just something that would come up in conversation.

GRIMSHAW:

Do you believe, because some experts are saying that when you say that families are the strongest defence against the drug problem you're almost implying that it's only in dysfunctional families that drugs rear their head.

PRIME MINISTER:

Can I say, can I say that is the sort of negative, nit-picking response that you get from a section of the community whenever you try and use what I might call the mainstream vehicle of social progress and that's the family. Of course there are some families that struggle and I'm the last person to say that it's only dysfunctional families - to use that rather ugly expression - it's only dysfunctional families that have drug problems. I've known families that you wouldn't regard as dysfunctional who have had drug problems, of course that happens. There's nothing judgmental Tracey about this campaign, this is a campaign that cares about the future of our children, it's a campaign that wants to utilise the love and affection that parents naturally have towards their children and their concern for their future to try and stop some of them starting the drug habit. It is as simple and as basic as that.

GRIMSHAW:

And what about to those people like Alex Wodak from the Drug Law Reform Foundation who says that these campaigns don't work, mass media isn't going to stop people from using drugs and $27 million would buy a lot of treatment programmes?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I don't agree with him. These mass media campaigns are part of the general approach. They have worked in the past. Remember the aids programme? That worked, that helped. We have been more successful than many other countries in curbing this threat of aids. The mass media campaigns about tobacco consumption have helped. Mass media campaigns about a lot of things, they're part of it. But see this is really a mass media campaign to remind people that you've got a resource right there at home. That's what this is about.

GRIMSHAW:

All right. Well perhaps on a lighter note, certainly on a different note, you attended the memorial service for Sir Don Bradman last night. What did you take away from that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it was very moving, a lovely contribution from the members of his family. A beautiful voice of his granddaughter. A magnificently rich and entertaining and complete contribution from Richie Benaud. I mean we've all heard Richie before, and we all admire his great skill but he was at his absolutely superlative. I mean he got, you could almost say it was the equivalent of taking eight or nine wickets in an innings, it was a great performance in every way.

GRIMSHAW:

The Bradman family have always been notoriously private, did you get an insight into them that perhaps you didn't have before?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well not really in the sense that I knew despite their intense privacy which is understandable, they had a great affection for their father and grandfather. And to hear the two generations speak so eloquently of him as a man, as a father and a grandfather was very nice and I think most Australians would have found that very warming and something they could have related to. And perhaps the nicest tribute of all if you have a memorial service to which all of us can relate.

GRIMSHAW:

All right we'll leave it there. Many thanks for your time.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you.

[Ends]

Transcript 11982