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Transcript 12501

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP DOORSTOP INTERVIEW, CANBERRA

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: 14/11/2002

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 12501

Subjects: Iraq; listing of terrorist groups; Osama Bin Laden; corporate governance.

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

JOURNALIST:

Saddam Hussein';s decision to comply with 1441 – is this the crucial breakthrough?

PRIME MINISTER:

I';m not going to make any claims like that. He has no alternative other than to comply and we';ll just have to wait and see. I';m very sceptical. The world is very sceptical. We all hope it can be resolved without the use of military force. Everybody hopes that. The track record of this man and this country on this issue is bad therefore we should take each development as it comes along.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard, any comment on the appointment of Bill Jolley to head the first inspections team?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it';s a tribute to him and it indicates the technical expertise and skill of Australians in the highest levels of international organisations.

JOURNALIST:

Does it put any extra pressure at all on your foreign policy stance that an Australian will be there in the front line, if you like, of inspectors?
PRIME MINISTER:

No, he';s acting as an individual, an Australian, but he is acting as an individual and he is working for the United Nations. He is part of the body established by the Security Council. It doesn';t have any implications at all for our position.

JOURNALIST:

You named [inaudible] terrorist groups today [inaudible]. Can we expect to see more raids?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it depends on what emerges. I mean we have the capacity and we of course are limited given that you can only list something that is listed by the United Nations, because the other provisions we had in mind were objected to by the Senate. But we are clearly in a very difficult phase. It is clear that the war against terrorism is one that involves many countries around the world and we have to take whatever steps are necessary.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, do you believe that there are any members of the Al-Jazeera Islamic movement or Abu Sayyaf or any of the groups that you have banned in Australia now?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look I don';t want to comment specifically on that. We didn';t deal with the organisation in the way we have for no good reason and there is always a reason for these things and we are living in a more dangerous, more challenging, more difficult world. The tragic events in Bali which have so touched our country have brutally reminded us of that and I think we will always feel different as a result of that.

JOURNALIST:

What went through your mind Prime Minister when you heard from American intelligence that this tape probably was the voice of Osama Bin Laden?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I feared that that was the case when I first read the transcript and first heard the report. It is just a reminder that no country is out of the reach of terrorism. We';ve all been made sadly aware of that. It means that we must maintain our commitment to the war against terrorism. The ultimate nightmare, I say again, would be if weapons of mass destruction were to fall into the hands of terrorists. That would be the ultimate nightmare and that is why it is essential that countries such as Iraq, that have shown a capricious capacity to use weapons of mass destruction, have to be disarmed. And that is why it is imperative that the objectives of that UN Security Council resolution be realised.

JOURNALIST:

Can I just ask you about the announcement you';re going to make tonight Prime Minister on the corporate governance review. What was the trigger for instituting a review of governance?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we promised to do it during the election campaign because I believe that bodies such as the ACCC, the Australian Taxation and so forth, that exercise enormous power, they are not directly accountable to Ministers. They';re only accountable to the Parliament in a rather theoretical way. In practice they';re not. And I think it';s a good idea given that everybody else is properly accountable. I';m accountable ultimately to the people and through the Parliament to the people. Other people are accountable but I think there is a little bit of a vacuum, a gap here, and I';m delighted that a businessman of John Uhrig';s calibre and repute has been willing to take on this job.

[ends]

Transcript 12501