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Transcript of doorstop interview of the Prime Minister the Hon John Howard, MP: \nParliament House, Canberra : International Whaling Commission; Australian workers; Singapore Airlines.
22 June 2005
TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP DOORSTOP INTERVIEW, PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
Subject: International Whaling Commission; Australian workers; Singapore Airlines.
…It is a very, very welcome decision. It reflects very favourably on the tremendous work that Ian Campbell has done as our Environment Minister but there are still further challenges ahead and although it is a very welcome outcome and it does indicate strong feeling against commercial whaling, I wouldn’t be surprised if different attempts were
made on different aspects of the issue to try and alter the outcome. So we have to be vigilant and we have to continue to argue our case. I’m gratified that we appear to have picked up support from some people we didn’t expect to, but you know what votes are like, you don’t really know the outcome of the next one until it’s counted.
Do you think it’s inevitable that Japan will increase its scientific cull regardless of today’s vote in the IWC?
I would like to believe that our Japanese friends will take notice of international opinion. This is an issue on which Australia and Japan hold very strongly different views. We, of course, are close allies of the Japanese and Japan is a good friend of Australia and will remain so irrespective of our differences on this issue. But we do feel very strongly, it has united public opinion in Australia and I hope that Japan will take note of how strongly countries that are traditionally very sympathetic to Japan’s position in the world feel on
this subject, and I’m thinking of Australia and the United States and others, so I just ask them to reflect on the strength of that opinion and I hope Japan acts accordingly.
And if Japan doesn’t, is there anything Australia can do?
Oh look I am an optimist David, I work and look towards a positive outcome and we’ve had a good result and I just hope the Japanese Government has a look at that result and says, gee that must be saying something about world opinion and acts accordingly.
Prime Minister talking about not knowing the outcomes of votes until they happen, a couple of your incoming National Party Senators are expressing concerns about voluntary student legislation, is it any possibility that that will be modified as a consequence?
Jim we have a position on that, but I’m not going to respond to every bit of newspaper comment on it.
Mr Howard do you believe Australian workers would accept a 40-hour working week?
Well we won’t be proposing it.
Are you ruling that out are you?
Well that’s what Kevin Andrews effectively did yesterday. Well if you have any doubt about it, let me do it now.
Would you be able to tell us Prime Minister when the Government might look to revisit Singapore Airline’s request to get into trans-Pacific market? Obviously the Government’s
looking at aviation policy broadly. When do you think, if at all, the Government might be prepared to have another look at Singapore Airline’s bid?
We have never at any stage said finally and definitely no to that. What I indicated and I’m glad you asked me the question. What I indicated when the Singaporean Prime Minister rang me a couple of weeks ago, I indicated to him that we weren’t in a position to take a decision on this issue within the next few weeks, and it did have to be looked at in the context of overall aviation policy, including the question of whether Singapore Airlines and Qantas were to remain as separate companies for an indefinite period of time. This is a decision that’s got to be taken into context of all of those circumstances, but the idea that we have shut the door permanently on some kind of accommodation in relation to Singapore Airlines is not correct. But it is true that you can’t look at that issue in isolation from consideration of whether the companies might come together in the future, and also a comparison of the relative levels of government assistance that are provided to different airlines. There’s not a lot provided in Australia. So the issue is certainly not going to be the subject of a decision in the next few weeks, but the whole question has not been finally taken off the table either.
Do the deliberations though include considering Qantas’ foreign ownership pact, is that in this?
I think all of those things have to be looked at.