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9am with David and Kim -

View in ParlView



Subjects: Political life; Loyalty; Telstra; Petrol prices; Global warming; Uranium; Prime

WATKINS: We welcome the Opposition Leader to the 9.00am couch this morning along with his
staunchest ally, wife, Susie Annus. Thanks both for coming in.

REYNE: Good morning to you both.

BEAZLEY: After you introduction, lets end the interview now. I'll accept that as a reasonable
definition of my character and state of mind and we can now conclude it and all take off.

REYNE: Okay, see you later.

WATKINS: I'm just wondering if you might like to tell us who Chooky is Kim?

BEAZLEY: It's a nickname for my wife.

WATKINS: I just happened to hear when they were getting their microphones on earlier and I heard
Kim say: "come on chooky, your turn for your microphone".

REYNE: And we don't ask the next question as to how you got that name. Time spent together for you
two must be so brief...

ANNUS: We're coming up for our sixteenth Anniversary and we've spent about four of those years
together - that's not bad.

REYNE: My question is then if you become the Prime Minister and I would understand the two of you
would live together in The Lodge. What guarantee is there that you'll actually get on?

BEAZLEY: It's the incentive. It's one of the big incentives, there are many others as well but
that's one of the big incentives about becoming Prime Minister. I actually get to test our
relationship. Can we live together for three plus years? It'll be very interesting.

WATKINS: It would be a rare treat for you guys though to have some time together - I mean you must
relish it.

BEAZLEY: We'll we're very grateful to you. Our little one is at Rottnest at the moment, it's a
boarders' long-weekend, so she's on holiday and so we're doing this program together this morning
so I said: "why not come across for the weekend to Melbourne". It's been great.

REYNE: Does the idea of Canberra, other than the fact that you'd be there if Kim is Prime Minister,
does the idea of Canberra appeal to you at all?

ANNUS: Absolutely. Canberra is a wonderful city.

REYNE: You'd have to say that.

ANNUS: No, no. I've got lots of friends there. I've been visiting Canberra since oh I'd say - no we
won't go back that far. I've had friends living in Canberra for a very long time so I've been a
frequent visitor before I married Kim and started to go there because of his job.

WATKINS: I guess though the nice part for you though in Perth is that you're away from a lot of the
fighting, the bickering and the attention.

ANNUS: Absolutely. I mean federal politics doesn't loom large in Western Australian life. I mean,
you have the West and you have the East and neither of them meet. I can be sitting at the swimming
pool for two and a half hours during a federal election and not a single person will mention the
fact that there's a federal election going on. And we are quite removed from the Eastern States.

WATKINS: Does that make it easier Susie to put up with criticism of Kim. I mean obviously in your
position you cop it because you're a politician. And I know that you're very defensive, very
protective of your husband.

BEAZLEY: (Inaudible) up with it at all.

ANNUS: I have been known to make the odd phone call and set someone straight on their opinion about
Kim, but only the odd one.

REYNE: What is the greatest asset? I imagine the hardest thing to do as a politician is to let the
world or let the country know exactly what the sort of person that you are. What is the greatest
asset of Kim's that is most difficult to let the electorate know of do you think?

ANNUS: I think everyone wants a very black and white person. They really don't like complexity and
really politics is all about complexity and so somehow you've got to translate that very complex
analysis of an event into very simple terms and I think in the process you often lose all the
subtlety that goes with the person or the nuances that go with the person. And I think that's a
shame that everything has to be so black and white.

REYNE: In reading notes about you, the word loyalty often comes up, particularly with regard to the
leadership challenge, the Hawke/Keating leadership challenge and how you were always - well, Bob
Hawke was your mentor. You were very loyal to Bob Hawke and I think that everyone knew that Keating
was likely to win that challenge, that leadership challenge, but you stood firm behind Hawke,
didn't you? And loyalty is something that is very hard to find in a politician.

BEAZLEY: Well sometime in politics you go down with the ship - that's the truth of the matter. You
don't always get to play the best deck of cards that you could possibly want for yourself. You make
a judgment about what's in the interest of the country, what's in the interest of the Party and you
follow that judgment through. Sometimes the public agrees with you, sometimes the Party agrees with
you, sometimes they don't. And the important thing in politics is to have a distinct view about
what's right for your people; what's right for the country, what's right for the Party and stick
with it. That's what you've got to do.

WATKINS: And Kim, can that be very isolating? Because I imagine it's very difficult in politics to
keep mates. I mean, you and Simon Crean, you were great mates as kids, you played together as kids
and yet you're put in a situation where you are at odds.

BEAZLEY: Yeah, politics is difficult to sustain friendships. I mean the best friend that I ever had
in politics passed away - Mick Young. And that is one of the things about politics which affects us
all and it doesn't matter whether they're Labor, Liberal, National Party whatever. It is a very
isolating profession, a very isolating profession. What I appreciate is the capacity to reach
outside politics and as well as having a few friends in politics to pick up people in the community
who really think that most of what you do from day to day pretty irrelevant, and just want to chat
you about life as the normal human life of being an Australian.

WATKINS: Although that's going to be kind of very few and far between now in the run-up to an

REYNE: Kim, just quickly. A relevant topic we must talk about is Telstra. It was interesting to see
the Finance Minister, Nick Minchin talking there. I noticed in the paper that he spoke to the ABC
Radio over the weekend and said words to the affect, that the Government didn't want to be seen to
be selling shares in an election year. What's gone wrong?

BEAZLEY: The Government should not be selling Telstra now. I don't believe in privatising Telstra,
okay, I make that statement at the outset, I don't think it's in the national interest

REYNE: Why not?

BEAZLEY: Because I think it's a nation building role that Telstra needs to play. What we need out
of Telstra now is not a price on the shares - what we need is a rolled out high-speed broadband -
that's what we need. And that's what the Government should be sitting down and talking to Telstra
about. But I leave that to one side - that's my view. Even if I believed in privatisation of
Telstra, I would not do it now. This is not the right time to do it.

WATKINS: Is it a firesale now?

BEAZLEY: It's a firesale now and worst than that, that's the problem with the immediate float. But
worst than that, they're putting the rest of the Telstra shares into the Future Fund, without the
manager of the Future Fund having its performance as part of the test of whether or not he's doing
the job and with a mandate to float those shares out at whatever price he sees fit.

Now, Howard surrendered our great Australian company that's what he's done. It's the wrong thing to
do. You don't surrender Telstra - you have a purpose for Telstra. And oddly enough the sorts of
things that people like Burgess and Trujillo, the Telstra operators are talking about, even though
they're talking their book, they're actually talking about Telstra's nation building role. They're
Americans but they're talking like Australians and Howard's an Australian talking about surrender.

REYNE: So how much of this is Sol Trujillo's fault?

BEAZLEY: Well none of it. I mean the simple fact of the matter is he's been there for about a year
or so. Now the Government is finding him very hard to take because he is operating like the boss of
an American Telco and he doesn't care about what Governments think. I saw the complaints on the
front page of one of our newspapers today, you know, there's the bosses of Telstra wanting to stand
us up and talk the book of the company. They don't know that the appropriate approach of all
journalists and others in Australia is to be on their knees, in front of John Howard - and you've
got wrong idea boys.

But the simple fact of the matter is what they're doing is they're operating like tough managers.
How do we get our share price up? We get our share price up by the best possible performance. How
do we get the best possible performance? Well we position the regulator. They've also put out a
very good idea about rolling out high-speed broadband, which unfortunately they've abandoned. If I
was in Howard's position now, that's the only conversation I'd be having with them - I wouldn't be
having a conversation about privatising. I'd be having a conversation about how we gave Australia
the top-notch, first class communications system.

WATKINS: We've back with Opposition Leader, Kim Beazley and his wife Susie Annus. In the break
we've just been chatting about the joys of childbirth and David revealed to us a little while ago
that the doctors' brought him a sandwich while he wife was giving birth. What's your story there

BEAZLEY: I think it's like been locked in a room with a feral cat. It's women at their most earthy.
It's a very impressive and I might say, frightening process, at least for their husbands!

ANNUS: Please don't go there.

BEAZLEY: And a very painful one for your good self.

REYNE: But a joyous moment for you nonetheless.

ANNUS: Yes. We won't go there.

REYNE: (Inaudible)


WATKINS: You see know I really want to go there when you say don't go there.

ANNUS: It's not a pretty sight.

REYNE: Speaking of feral cats, there was an issue recently Kim where you found yourself involved
with a feral cat at the front door doing a doorstop a Parliament. Let's take a look at that for a
moment shall we?

Cross to Tuckey doorstop

REYNE: Susie I might ask you first, how do you react to something like that?

ANNUS: I think you should always stand up to a bully - it's a no-win situation isn't it? I mean had
Kim walked away he would have been called a coward - he stood up to him he's called a bully. I
think in politics sometimes there are no-win situations but I think he basically stood up for
himself and I think Wilson's known to bully most people so you don't walk away from him.

REYNE: How often do you lie in bed at night and think that scene over and wished that you had the
really good reaction, the really good response?

BEAZLEY: It's a very Western Australian thing. You're witnessing politics from the frontier.

WATKINS: There's a lot been said in recent times about the behaviour of politicians and do you look
back and do you go, "Oh, I just wish I'd held my tongue a little bit more"?

BEAZLEY: We're passionate. You know, when you really believe something, and there's a lot we really
believe and a lot we've now got in disagreement with the Government, they've been in office now 10
years and the lines are much more clearly drawn. In those circumstances, you've got to be more
passionate. Now, sometimes that will lead to things going slightly over the top but it didn't
revolve around fisticuffs, so there you are. You can be grateful for small mercies. You just move

WATKINS: Although the heat of the moment didn't actually help Mark Latham a few years ago. What was
his description of the American Government? Something about the ... a conga line of suckholes, or
something like that.

BEAZLEY: It was the Australian Government, was how he described the Australian Government in
relation to the American Government, and it was not wise. It missed the point. I mean, the point
was really the Australian Government helped, in a small way, to inveigle the United States into the
worst decision the American administration has taken in my living memory, and that was to involve
themselves in the way in which they did in Iraq. Now, when a government does anything as foolish
and unwise as that, you know, you struggle for epithets to describe them. That wasn't the right
epithet. But the correct epithet was wrong-headed, this is not the way you should have gone.

REYNE: I know you believe in a US/Australian alliance but, as you've just said, you don't believe
in the Iraq war or the involvement in the Iraq war. Does the ALP have an exit strategy for our
troops, should you become Government?

BEAZLEY: We think the troops that are there in the southern part of Iraq should come out. We think
that the Prime Minister had a real opportunity when the Japanese withdrew, to withdraw as well. He
did not take that up. In fact , the troops that are there now would be quite useful if they were
actually in Afghanistan or Timor on one of the places where we ought to be, as opposed to Iraq
where we ought not to be. And we ought to be encouraging the Americans to uncouple themselves from
Iraq as well, because it is sucking the oxygen out of US foreign policy. There's only one major
strategic effect from the war in Iraq, or two actually, both bad. The first is that the power of
Iran and the influence of Iran in the Middle East has increased exponentially, that's the first
thing. The second thing is we're not safer in the War on Terror. The street in the Middle East has
been helped to be turned against us. They've turned the arch-criminal, bin Laden, into something of
a hero amongst some of the peoples in the Middle East. Now, those two effects were just about as
bad as anything you could conceivably imagine as an outcome. And John Howard's got his fingerprints
on that. If I were in John Howard's position I would not want my fingerprints on an outcome like
that. Sometimes, and I'll conclude with this, sometimes you have to be the ally that the American
administration needs, rather than the ally that they might want.

WATKINS: Do you think the third thing in that could be petrol prices, because that's really hitting
Australians hard, isn't it?

BEAZLEY: Well, the Iraq war was unquestionably affected petrol prices probably to the tune of about
five to 10 cents a litre. Those are American statistics. That is a product of the collapse of oil
production in Iraq. It's never got back to the levels it was before the war, this phase of the war
broke out. So, there's definitely an Iraqi effect on petrol prices.

WATKINS: Is a Labor Government going to slash the fuel excise and make it a whole lot cheaper for
us? I reckon it's a vote winner.

BEAZLEY: I think what you've got to do is two things. Firstly, you actually need to stop us being
ripped off and if you give the ACCC a proper term of reference you can do that. We are being ripped
off, not necessarily all the time but certainly occasionally and certainly around weekends, etc.
The second thing is we've got to get ourselves off the hook of Middle East oil. That's actually
what we have to do because we're hostage now permanently to the international price of oil. We
actually have the means to do it. We have got gas and coal to burn, so to speak. We can go to gas
and coal to liquid conversion which now no new technology needs to be invented. The technology's
already there. We are in a position to render ourselves independent and when you add to the ethanol
and bio-diesel, we're just about there if we have a government that's forward thinking enough to
deal with it. We have so many criticisms of John Howard at the moment but there all on the forward
agenda. Alternatives fuels. Deal with global warming. You know, get to grips with the education and
training system. Broadband roll out. I mean, there are so many points now, nation building points,
of disagreement.

REYNE: Speaking of global warming, Mr Howard, on tonight's ABC Four Corners program, he says he
still did not believe it was necessary to make drastic changes in response to the threat of climate
change. "I accept that climate change is a challenge, I accept the broad theory of global warming.
I'm sceptical about a lot of the more gloomy predictions". He says that he's not convinced that
Australia can afford to make deep cuts to its greenhouse emissions.

BEAZLEY: You know, he's got a report a very conservative outfit, Allen Consulting, which says that
in 20 years time, no Kakadu; 20 years time, no beachside suburbs; 20 years time, no sustaining
rainfall in south-west and south-east Australia. I mean, this is not a bunch of hairy-chested
greenies coming out and telling him that. It's a very old fashioned consulting firm saying this is
where we're headed. So, if I was Prime Minister of this nation fronted with a report like that, I
wouldn't be sweeping it under the carpet and telling everybody out there it was a gloom merchant
who said that this was serious. You'd be working how to deal with it because it's a wonderful
opportunity. We can put ourselves at the forefront of technologies to deal with the problems. You
know, put ourselves back at the forefront of solar power systems, for example, where we've lost our
lead. We're not helpless. You can actually do something.

WATKINS: It's clearly a big job ahead for the nation and it's your second tilt at it. Let's also
talk about after your resignation in 2001, was that a political mistake, do you think? Perhaps,
Susie, you can jump in here, too, if you think so. Was that a mistake?

ANNUS: I don't think so. I think that in 2001, I think that Kim made the right decision. He'd at
the best tilt at it that he could and I think the decision, at the time, was the right one for him.

BEAZLEY: I thought, you know, you've had two shots, I'd had two shots, it was time to see somebody
else have a go. Somebody else had a go and now I'm back. That's fair enough. But I think it was the
right decision at the time, yes.

WATKINS: After that, one thing I want to talk to you about is your brush, perhaps that's not the
right word, with Schaltenbrands Syndrome which had you laid up for a couple of months. Tell us what
it is and how it effected you, because you were off work for a few months, weren't you?

BEAZLEY: Yep. Well, look, Schaltenbrands Syndrome is a leakage in the spinal column at the back of
the neck and, basically, it produces bad headaches. I mean, that's fundamentally what it does, and
there's only one cure for it and that's to rest. So I rested and now it's gone.

WATKINS: And you're cured?

BEAZLEY: And you're cured.

WATKINS: You're a hundred per cent?

BEAZLEY: Generally speaking you get it by bungee jumping and this I have not done you'll be please
to know.

WATKINS: Is there a bit of rubber necking in politics? It's the weight that did it though.

BEAZLEY: I think probably weight lifting. But if there was a slight weakness there and you do a
sudden sort of jerky movement......

WATKINS: You're being serious, really?

BEAZLEY: A jerky movement with a heavy weight, in my case that's probably what kicked it in. So,
I'm limiting myself these days to swimming and jogging.

WATKINS: You've shed a few kilos too, you're pretty proud of that?

BEAZLEY: A few, a few more to go. She who will never be satisfied has a very different view on my
performance I've got to say from that of ....

WATKINS: Tell us Susie.

ANNUS: It's a work in progress.

REYNE: I wanted to talk you also about the No New Mines policy which is now there will be new
mines. So, you believe strongly that we should be exporting uranium but you don't believe in a
nuclear industry in Australia. Isn't that like handing someone some matches and saying don't start
a fire?

BEAZLEY: No. I think we've got to be economically responsible at home and morally responsible
abroad. Now, economically responsible at home, we've been exporting uranium what 50 years, probably
longer. And because you export it doesn't necessarily mean you have to exploit in terms of
developing your own power systems. I mean we are an energy supplier to the world. We have got huge
supplies of coal; we've got huge supplies of gas and we have the best possible location, if you
like, for alternative sources of energy like solar power, wind power and the rest of it. You don't
need a nuclear power industry. You don't need to send a signal to the region around you that you're
in the nuclear business. You know, the simple fact of the matter is: if you are in the nuclear
business, people have a question mark at the back of their minds that maybe you're in the nuclear
weapons business because the two often go together and that creates a different set of strategic
circumstances for our nation.

Now, we don't have to do that. What we have to do is be a responsible supplier. So instead of
talking about whether we'll have this mine going ahead or that mine going ahead, or we'll double
the size of the existing mines or whatever, forget that. Let's look at the terms and conditions
under which we export. Let's be the world's most vigorous, rigorous exporter so that we at least
have a say over whether or not people are developing enrichment capacities for nuclear weapons
purposes. Let's be the top dog, the leading attack dog on non-proliferation, that's my ambition.

WATKINS: Well we're nearly out of time but I just to ask you Susie before we go. I know that you're
Kim's absolute best supporter in the world and you're known in media circles as being very
supportive of him. But why do you think he's the best man to lead the country?

ANNUS: Because I think Kim has always, from the time I first started to go out with him, has always
thought long-term. And I think the problems that are confronting us now are problems that were not
tackled 10 years ago. And I just think he's the best person to basically have a long-term future
for the country.

REYNE: Have you seen any photographs of the interior of The Lodge?

ANNUS: No. I have been there, it was many years ago.

REYNE: What would be the first item of interior design you would change?

ANNUS: I don't think I would change a single thing.

REYNE: Really?


BEAZLEY: It's got icons on the wall.

ANNUS: I'd have to find lots of book cases for our books.

REYNE: It's been a delight to meet you both. Thank you for your time this morning.

BEAZLEY: Good to be with you.

WATKINS: And hopefully we'll chat more with you when we actually are in election mode fully.

BEAZLEY: Absolutely.