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Meet The Press -

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13 September, 2009



'MEET THE PRESS' PRESENTER PAUL BONGIORNO: Good morning and welcome to 'Meet the Press'. Australia
continues to weather the global economic storm better than most, with the unemployment rate stable
at 5.8%. The Government more than happy to be part of the G20's endorsement of continued stimulus
spending, and now working on the agenda for keeping a co-ordinated international response at the
group's next meeting in Pittsburgh later this month.

PRIME MINISTER KEVIN RUDD: (Monday) The Government's early and decisive decision to cushion the
economy from the worst impacts of the global recession is working.

OPPOSITION LEADER MALCOLM TURNBULL: (Tuesday) What we have seen is a reckless spending and a
reckless borrowing that is inevitably going to lead to higher taxes and higher interest rates for
Australians in the years ahead.

MINISTER FOR SMALL BUSINESS CRAIG EMERSON: (Monday) He's on his own. He's the lone ranger. He's
Napoleon Solo, Robinson Crusoe, Dr Zachary Smith up there, out on the outer edges of the Milky Way,
lost in space, out there on his own. Ground control to Major Tom, you're out there on your own.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Foreign Minister Stephen Smith is a guest. And later, new research on the extent of
the massacre of Aborigines. It's sure to spark a new battle in the history wars. But first - what
the nation's papers are reporting this Sunday September 13. The 'Sunday Age' says Labor is
considering plan to get early election trigger. Kevin Rudd is seriously considering recalling
Parliament during the Christmas holidays for a second vote on failed changes to the health
insurance rebate. If the Senate rejects them again, the Government would have another trigger for a
double dissolution election. In Adelaide, the 'Sunday Mail' reports another refugee boat has been
found in waters off Broome. A boat carrying 83 asylum seeker and 3 crew is being escorted to
Christmas Island. It was sighted in distress by a RAAF maritime surveillance aircraft. The 'Sunday
Telegraph' has 'We foot bill for insulation rort'. The Federal Government faces a new inquiry into
its stimulus spending. The Opposition has asked the Auditor-General to examine rorting and waste in
the $ 14 billion Energy Efficient Homes package. The 'Sun Herald' carries a story with the
colourful headline, 'Hockey socked'. The World Bank's managing director has rejected Shadow
Treasurer Joe Hockey's description of the G20 as a centre-left movement. Let's welcome back to the
program Foreign Minister Stephen Smith. Good morning, Minister.


PAUL BONGIORNO: Well, the World Bank's managing director - and I guess the World Bank is hardly a
hotbed of socialists - doesn't agree with Joe Hockey. But if we take our own Opposition as a
yardstick of where the centre-right is, the G20 nations are all very big spending socialists,
aren't they?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, I think there's a number of points to be made here. Firstly, it's clearly the
case that Mr Hockey has made a bit of a fool of himself and it's regrettable that that has spread
not just from Australia domestic commentary but to international commentary, and the importance of
that is that Australia has been making the point that the G20 is clearly the obvious and most
relevant international institution to be dealing with these very difficult global economic matters.
The G20 covers developed and developing economies, north and south, east and west. 80% to 85% of
the world's economy or trade countries or trade movements are in the G20, and we've been working
very hard to try to establish the G20 as the premier international institution so far as these
matters are concerned, and Mr Hockey's very silly comments don't actually help in that respect.

PAUL BONGIORNO: But he is making the point, I believe, that maybe we should be taking a check on
just how much spending is now needed?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, when the G20 met - the finance ministers met recently - they all made the
point, and Mr Swan, when he returned made this point to the Parliament and publicly - they all made
the point that now was not the time to withdraw the stimulus. Now was not the time to withdraw the
spending. Yes, of course, we have to look sensibly at how to exit from the current economic
difficulties, but now is not the time. And apart from silly conspiracy theories about centre-left
politics, every developed economy, every serious interested economy, every serious interested
nation in the world other than the Liberal Party in Australia is making the point that we have to
continue with our economic stimulus and judge very carefully in the future how we exit from that.
Mr Hockey has made a fool of himself and it just shows how completely out of touch the Liberal
Party is on these very important and difficult matters.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Well, Minister, going to the other big announcement during the week that the
Australian Federal Police will investigate Indonesian suspects for war crimes in East Timor back in
1975, we now have the president of Indonesia himself warning that this isn't a good idea, it's
raking over the past and it will harm relations.

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, from the Indonesian perspective, of course they look at this matter nearly 35
years ago, the events of 1975, terrible and tragic events. From the Australian perspective, we've
had two independent exercises of judgment within Australia. Firstly, the NSW deputy coroner in
November 2007 on the Peters matter - an inquest into the Peters death, one of the Balibo Five - and
that effectively asked the AFP to conduct an investigation, and in the course of last week, the AFP
advised the families and I made sure Indonesia was advised that they had determined to conduct an
independent investigation.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Minister, would the AFP have gone ahead with this investigation if Mick Keelty was
still the commissioner?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, it's not a matter of who the commissioner is. It is a matter for the
independent judgment of the AFP, and the AFP Commissioner has announced that the AFP determined
independently to make that judgment, and to commence an investigation. But in terms of our
relationship with Indonesia, we do have to handle it very sensitively, very carefully, and that's
what we're doing. We have a first class relationship with Indonesia and we're very confident that
this issue can be managed.

PAUL BONGIORNO: One of the prime suspects in the AFP war crimes investigation is former Indonesian
military commander and later Government commander Yunus Yosfiah. He's been protesting his innocence
for years.

ABC REPORTER: There are new allegations being made by a Portuguese East Timorese witness who was

FORMER INDONESIAN GENERAL YUNUS YOSFIAH: It's untrue. It's untrue. Totally untrue.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Now, Minister, even if the AFP do find that this gentleman has a case to answer,
Indonesia is hardly going to hand him over. It will be a lot of effort and a lot of time for very
little reward.

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, obviously I'm not proposing to comment on any of the details of the AFP
investigation or who may or may not be a suspect. I'll leave that to the AFP, but it is very
important that we take this step-by-step. The AFP have exercised an independent judgement to
commence an investigation, and I think it is very important that we don't get too far ahead of
ourselves in terms of contemplating extradition or prosecutions. We'll take it step-by-step.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Do you fear in the meantime, however, that the very good co-operation we're getting
from Indonesia in the fight against terrorism and indeed in combating people smuggling is at risk?

STEPHEN SMITH: No, I don't. We have a first class relationship with Indonesia. We were handed from
our predecessors a very good relationship, which has gone to, in our view, an even better level. We
don't believe that any of the ongoing co-operation between Australia and Indonesia will be
disturbed in any way. We do need to handle this matter sensitively, just as for example, we need to
handle sensitively other matters where we know there's potential for differences like capital
punishment and the like, and indeed, this was one of the matters that Prime Minister Rudd and
President Yudhoyono referred to in their first meeting back in December 2007. So we know we have to
manage it carefully, but we are absolutely confident of the first class relationship we have with
Indonesia will continue at every level, and that includes co-operation on people smuggling and
counterterrorism where Indonesia has a first-class record in combating terrorism.

PAUL BONGIORNO: OK, time for a break. When we return with the panel, are the Afghanistan elections
a tragic joke? And serial language mangler Steve, uh, Fielding on Tuesday explained that he had to
overcome a very severe learning difficulty to get on.

REPORTER (Tuesday): Senator, can I check, when you talking of physical and monetary policy whether
you're talking about...


REPORTER: You are talking about fiscal?

FAMILY FIRST SENATOR STEVE FIELDING: That's correct. Fiscal. I'll make it quite clear. Yeah,
fiscal. F-I-S-K-A-L.

ALBANESE: Senator Fielding may have had a problem in spelling 'fiscal', but I can spell 'out of
touch'. T-U-R-N-B-U-L-L.

PAUL BONGIORNO: You're on 'Meet the Press' with Foreign Minister Stephen Smith. And welcome to our
panel Eleanor Hall, ABC 'The World Today. Good morning, Eleanor.


PAUL BONGIORNO: And Mark Kenny of the 'Advertiser'. Good morning, Mark.


PAUL BONGIORNO: 11 Australian soldiers have lost their lives trying to secure Afghanistan against
the Taliban and to establish an enduring democracy. But there are now grave doubts over the
validity of the recent elections, even President Karzai's own hand-picked electoral commission
admitting widespread fraud. Rival candidate Abdullah Abdullah says the election has been stolen.

justify the support if the outcome of an election in which hundreds of millions of dollars has been
spent and NATO soldiers have died for the civilisation of this country and then, as a result, fraud
decides the outcome, and I think it sounds like a tragic joke.

ELEANOR HALL: Stephen Smith, that's the key Opposition candidate there calling the election result
in Afghanistan a "tragic joke." What is Australia's official position on this election now?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, our position as the Minister for Defence and I have articulated during last
week, is that we want to wait for the final analysis from the Afghanistan Election Commission and
the Election Complaints Commission, and that's responding to the call from the United Nations
Special Representative in Afghanistan Kai Eide who has essentially asked all of the interested
parties to not pre-judge or come to final conclusions in advance of the final reports which we're
expecting in the middle of this month, but obviously given the very difficult circumstances, that
may slip a bit.

ELEANOR HALL: President Hamid Karzai has been told that he has enough of the vote to avoid a
run-off. Would Australia support his re-election if that was the official result, given the

STEPHEN SMITH: A number of points. First of all, no official result has been declared and we're
waiting patiently for that. And secondly, we've seen the Election Complaints Commission rule out a
number of ballots from particular polling booths on the basis of fraud, and obviously we're
concerned about that, but we're also pleased to see the Complaints Commission doing its job. We
will wait until there's a final outcome before giving our concluded analysis. But I make this
point. It's a point I made before the election. Irrespective of who prevails in the Afghanistan
election, Australia and the international community will look to that Government to make
substantial progress on some of the very serious issues in Afghanistan. Anti-narcotics, corruption,
respect for women so far as their human rights are concerned. These are areas, where frankly, in
the last 18 months or so, there has been an ebbing of confidence, both in President Karzai, so far
as Australia is concerned, but also the international community. So whoever prevails, substantial
progress has to be made on those fronts.

ELEANOR HALL: But, Minister, are you worried that if it is Hamid Karzai who prevails, you may see
Iran-style protests in the Afghan community?

STEPHEN SMITH: Which is why we're patiently waiting for the Afghan Election Commission and Election
Complaints Commission to do its job. Of course, we have indicated our concern about some of the
circumstances and some of the findings to date of the Election Complaints Commission. But bear in
mind, this was an election conducted effectively in a state of war. It's the first election the
Afghans have conducted themselves for 30 years. It was never going to be a clean run or a perfect
thing, but we're proposing to reserve our ultimate judgement pending the final reports of both
those commissions but we are pleased to see that they are doing their job, but of course, like the
rest of the international community, whether it is the United States, the United Nations or the UK,
we have our very serious concerns.

MARK KENNY: Stephen Smith, isn't it the case, though, that Hamid Karzai has become an embarrassment
to the West, to the US and to us, and we're now seeing a situation where he's doing deals with
Taliban elements, with factional warlords - really taking the situation backwards - and Afghan's
experience of democracy is going to be a very bitter one. What are Australians really fighting and
dying for in Afghanistan if this is the kind of mediocre result?

STEPHEN SMITH: What Australia's presence in Afghanistan is doing is making our contribution in our
own national interest. We're now two days after the most recent anniversary of September 11. We're
there because Afghanistan and the Afghanistan/Pakistan border area is the current hotbed or
breeding ground of international terrorism, and we've seen again in Indonesia recently how that can
cause the deaths of Australians, so we're making a contribution to a United Nations mandated
international force which is there to try and reduce the capacity of international terrorism to
strike at innocent victims around the world, including Australians.

ELEANOR HALL: Minister, looking more broadly at the Australian-US relationship, President Obama has
just announced that Jeffrey Bleich will be the new US ambassador to Australia, someone very close
to the President. Presumably you will respond in kind in appointing an Australian ambassador to the
US. Who were you thinking of?

STEPHEN SMITH: Firstly on President Obama's nominee. Of course, we were consulted. We welcome the
nomination. It needs to go through the congressional process, but it is a significant appointment
and we welcome it very much. Our current ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Richardson, of
course, will return before the end of the year to become the Secretary of the Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade and so between now and then, the Prime Minister and I will announce a new
Australian ambassador, and as is invariably the case with these matters, we don't flag too much in
advance our intentions. But obviously it is an appointment that is a very important appointment and
one that the Prime Minister and I have had a number of conversations about, and when we announce
the appointment, it will, of course, be a significant announcement.

MARK KENNY: Mr Bleich's announcement has been seen as very significant in terms of the relationship
- the growing bond personally between President Obama and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Is it
important that we respond in kind? That we, in fact, appoint someone who has the ear of the Prime
Minister in the same way that Mr Bleich has the ear of President Obama? And names like Kim Beazley
and Bob Carr have been put up who would probably fit that bill.

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, I'm not proposing to comment upon or name any individuals. I make this point,
though - the American tradition is essentially what we would describe as political appointments. So
far as Australia is concerned, the history of our appointments of ambassadors to the United States
is one of two types - either political appointments or former ministers. For example, Andrew
Peacock, a former Foreign Minister, or experienced high-ranked diplomats like Ambassador
Richardson. And so far as we're concerned, we know this is a significant appointment, and the
person who goes to ambassador will certainly have the ear of the Foreign Minister and the Prime
Minister. The US alliance, of course, continues to be the bedrock of our strategic defence and
security arrangements, but we're working very closely with the Obama Administration, the Prime
Minister with the President, myself with the Secretary of State Clinton on a range of matters,
including our very strong views on the G20, which I remarked about earlier in the program.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Minister, just briefly before we go - Sri Lanka is about to throw out James Elder,
an Australian who works for the United Nations. They don't like the fact that Mr Elder has concerns
over the treatment of Tamil children in camps. Has Australia protested about this?

MARK KENNY: Well, we have spoken - our officials have spoken to Mr Elder, because he's an
Australian citizen. He doesn't require our assistance at the moment. We've also spoken at official
levels to UN officials and they don't require our intervention. The UN is, in a sense, primarily
responsible for those visa issues. I've had a look at Mr Elder's reported remarks and I don't see
any difficulty with those. He's been making the point, as has the Australian Government, that we
need to see access by the international agencies - whether it is UNICEF or other international
agencies, the Red Cross - to the displaced people's camps and indeed we need to see the Sri Lankan
Government now resettling the nearly 250,000 people in those camps and to assist with that. I'm
today announcing a further $2 million contribution by Australia to the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration to help resettle those
very large number of people in those camps, but access by the international organisations is very
important and that's the point that Mr Elder has been making on behalf of UNICEF.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Thank you very much for being with us, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith. And coming
up - historian Tony Roberts and the famous names behind some infamous massacres. Steve Fielding's
learning difficulties became the talk of the week. They inspired syndicated cartoonist Zanetti to
lampoon Malcolm Turnbull. (READS CARTOON) "Not one job has been created by the stimulus." "Another
politician with a learning difficulty."

PAUL BONGIORNO: You're on 'Meet the Press'. During the Howard years, the history wars raged. The
former PM's sights were on the black armband view of those historians who emphasised what was bad
and ugly in our past. Kevin Rudd tried to bury the argument in a recent speech.

KEVIN RUDD: (Thursday) More broadly, I believe the time has now come to move beyond the arid
intellectual debates of the history wars and the culture wars of recent years. Time to leave behind
us the polarisation that began to infect our every discussion of our nation's past.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Historian Tony Roberts has unearthed some disturbing facts about the history of the
Northern Territory. Good morning and welcome to the program, Mr Roberts.

AUTHOR TONY ROBERTS: Good morning, Paul.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Now, just briefly, what are the key findings of your research into what happened in
the Northern Territory in the late 19th century?

TONY ROBERTS: Well, the extent of the massacres that followed cruel and rapid dispossession, and in
the Gulf Country, which is my main area of study, that is an area exactly the size of Victoria. The
people there - the traditional owners there - were dispossessed of every inch of that land in the
space of just four years. In my book, 'Frontier Justice', I detail the dispossession and the
massacres. The recent research has focused on culpability. What did the governments of South
Australia know about what was happening in the Territory, and what did the police know?

MARK KENNY: Now, the kinds of things that you're talking about, Tony Roberts, these atrocities -
can you give us some hint of what those actual atrocities are - just some examples?

TONY ROBERTS: Well, the Minister for the Northern Territory sent a policeman named William Curtis
with Aboriginal troopers out of town from Roper River where there was a police camp down to
McArthur River Station to investigate, he said, which was a euphemism for "Teach the blacks a
lesson and punish them". The death of a stockman named Ted Lenehan who was ambushed and killed
while out in the bush shooting Aboriginals. In one camp alone, William Curtis and a very large
party of stockmen from McArthur River Station who joined him there slaughtered 64 men, women and
children alone. We know that because one of the participants wrote about it in later years.
Throughout the whole of the Gulf Country, my estimate is that no less than 600 people - possibly as
many as 700 or 800 people - were slaughtered during the frontier period to 1910 of a population of
about 3,000. That's just the Gulf Country.

MARK KENNY: And these kinds of atrocities, they were not random acts - you're saying they were
officially sanctioned, there were some powerful names involved?

TONY ROBERTS: Yes. And this... There were...

MARK KENNY: Such as?

TONY ROBERTS: Well...premiers like Sir John Colton. One of the worst series of massacres is what
happened at the Daly River in September 1884. The premier then was Sir John Colton. Now, four
copper miners were murdered at the Daly River. The people from Daly all the way up to Darwin were
outraged, so how did the Government react? The minister at the time was Sir Richard Baker. He
personally authorised the Government representative in Darwin to hand out military rifles and
ammunition to four private punitive parties who went out and slaughtered Aboriginals from Darwin
down to the Daly, and at the same time, a fifth party made up of a large number of police officers
lead by Corporal Montague went nowhere near the Daly - they went south-east, out to the Mary River.

PAUL BONGIORNO: You said that one of our founding fathers, or two of our founding fathers, Solomon
and Sir John Downer were either complicit or turned a blind eye? Have you got any evidence for

TONY ROBERTS: Vaiben Solomon was the owner and editor of the 'Northern Territory Times' when this
happened and he wrote lurid articles in the paper, urging the locals to go out and shoot the
Aboriginals. He described them as no better than Siberian wolves, they weren't fit to live and so
on and so forth. He denigrated the whole entire Aboriginal race. And of course, the local whites
responded the way he urged them to do. And the death toll from that series of massacres was
estimated by the Government as being at least 150. I think it was well over 200.

ELEANOR HALL: Tony Roberts, your research reveals some horrific stories, but Australians have had
the Bringing Them Home Report, the Little Children are Sacred Report. Don't we now know this
terrible history?

TONY ROBERTS: Well, no, we don't. The Bringing Them Home report only dealt with the stealing of the
little girls, mainly - the so-called stolen generations. We did not know... Australians generally
do not know that when William Curtis went down to the Roper River on the instructions of the
Minister, the camp where 64 people were shot. This was not frontier warfare. There was no battle.
They took their boots off, crept up to the camp and surrounded it in the early hours of the morning
and at first light, they opened fire and began shooting the sleeping occupants.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Thank you very much for being with us today, historian Tony Roberts and thanks to
our panel, Eleanor Hall and Mark Kenny. A transcript of this program will be on the web. Until next
week, goodbye.