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National Press Club -

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Today at the National Press Club

Today at the National Press Club the Prime Minister John Howard.

Yesterday Mr Howard announced

sweeping changes to his front bench.

The new ministerial team expected

The new ministerial team expected to set the Coalition up for the rest

set the Coalition up for the rest of the next term. As the Government

approaches 10 years in power the

approaches 10 years in power the big question remains - will John Howard

stay for the 2007 election? Today

John Howard presents the Australia

day address live from Parliament's

great hall. Ladies and gentlemen on

behalf of the National Press Club

welcome to our first speaker event

of the year. It's a great pleasure

to welcome the Prime Minister. Next

week we'll be able to welcome the

Leader of the Opposition as our

second speaker. This is the eve, of

course, of Australia day, in a year

in which the Government will

celebrate its 10th year in office.

Mr Howard himself we're fully

expecting will celebrate a record

expecting will celebrate a record of long jefity in the post of head of

Government and of course he's made

the Government look rather

the Government look rather different this week from the one that was

elected 10 years ago. To talk about

some of the things associated with

all those milestones please welcome

the Prime Minister John Howard.

Thank you very much Mr Randall.

Tomorrow, with a simple yet

Tomorrow, with a simple yet eloquent pledge about 14,000 people from

pledge about 14,000 people from more than 70 countries of origin will

become Australian citizens. This

Australia Day celebration of

citizenship embodies a profound

truth and a simple irony. The truth

is that people come to this country

because they want to be Australians.

The irony is that no institution or

code lays down a test of

Australianness. Such is the nature

of our free society. It would,

however, be a crushing mistake to

down play the hopes and the

expectations of our national family.

We expect all who come here to make

an overriding commitment to

Australia its laws and its

democratic values. We expect them

democratic values. We expect them to master the common language of

English and will help them to do so.

We want them to learn about our

history and heritage and we expect

each unique individual who joins

each unique individual who joins our national journey to enrich it with

their loyalty and their patriotism.

Australia is a magnet for people

from all corners of the globe, not

because of what it might become but

because of what it has become. It

harvests the hopes and dreams of

mankind because of the quality of

life it offers the ordinary citizen.

Lives of opportunity and belonging,

of growth and of balance. This

achievement is higher, rarer and

more precious than we commonly

suppose. Not so long ago the

economist intelligence unit

economist intelligence unit released a ranking of life in major cities

around the world. It found that of

the 12 most liveable cities on

the 12 most liveable cities on earth five of them are here in Australia.

Of the top dozen almost half in one

country - this country. With only a

third of 1% of the world's

population. This remarkable

achievement went largely unnoticed

in our public debate. Yet it evokes

what to my mind is the secret of

Australia's greatness, our sense of

balance. Today I want to locate

balance. Today I want to locate this nation's sense of balance at the

centre of the modern Australian

achievement and to explore its

character. The balance in our

economic life between the public

economic life between the public and the private. The balance in our

national identity between unity and

diversity. The balance between

history and geography in our global

strategy and the balance in our

politics between rights and

democratic responsibility. Balance

is as crucial to a well ordered

society as it is to a full human

life. It should not be mistaken for

taking the middle road or splitting

the difference, nor does it imply a

state that is static or a nation at

rest. Quite the opposite. A sense

rest. Quite the opposite. A sense of balance is the hand made of

balance is the hand made of national growth and renewal. It helps us to

respond creatively to an uncertain

world with a sense of proportion.

Keeping our balance means we reform

and evolve so as to remain a

prosperous, secure and united

nation. It also means we retain

those cherished values, beliefs and

customs that have served us so well

in the past. The great struggle of

Australia's first century of

nationhood was to reconcile a

nationhood was to reconcile a market economy with a fair and decent

society. At the start of the 21st

century we have found a healthier

balance in our political economy

between public and private. One in

keeping with the times and the

contemporary character of the

Australian people. We encourage

individual achievement and

self-reliance without sacrificing

the common good. We value our

independence and chaffe against

democracies that deny us choice and

the capacity to shape our daily

lives. Yet we are determined not

lives. Yet we are determined not the let go of the Australian ethos of a

fair go for all. The permanent

challenge for Australia is to avoid

the extremes of big overbearing

Government on one hand andless

affair indifference on the other.

There is much, in American society

which I admire. And I have long

which I admire. And I have long held the view that the absence of an

effective safety net in that

effective safety net in that country means that too many needy citizens

fall by the way side. That is not

the path that Australia will tread.

Nor do we want the burdens of nanny

state paternalism that now weigh

down many economies in Europe.

down many economies in Europe. After more than two decades of reform,

more than two decades of reform, our economic performance is better than

in the past and better than in most

comparable countries. 15 years ago,

Australia's income per capita had

fallen to 19th in the developed

world. Today it's recovered to be

about the 8th highest. Total

household disposable income has

grown in real terms by more than a

third over the last decade. Over

third over the last decade. Over the same period real private sector

wealth per capita has more than

doubled. Broader measures of our

national well being are even more

striking. Australia is now third

striking. Australia is now third out of 177 countries on the United

Nations human development index

which takes account of achievement

in education enrolment, adult

literacy levels per capita GDP and

life expectancy. It's not just

statistics that tell the story of

Australia's economic renaissance. A

report released last year on

Australian social attitudes found

that Australians are much more

confident in the economy than they

were a decade ago. 80% of people

surveyed said that they were now

proud of Australia's economic

achievements. Strong economic

management has given Australia a

Government generically speaking, in

comparative terms which is lean but

not mean. As a seer of GDP and this

is a statistic worth repeating and

emphasising in the context of

current debate about the balance of

revenue and expenditure. As a share

of GDP this country now has the

second lowest level of general

Government outlays in the OECD at

36%. Slightly low

36%. Slightly lower even than in

36%. Slightly lower even than in the United States and Japan and

significantly lower than the

significantly lower than the average in Europe. The elimination of net

Government debt by this Government

compares with average Government

debt across the OECD of

approximately 50% of GDP. Yet the

real genius and achievement of

modern Australia is an ability to

clear new hurdles of reform without

leaving behind the most vulnerable

members in our society. Work done

members in our society. Work done at the OECD has shown that the

distribution of social benefits in

Australia is so progressive and the

level of taxes paid by the poor so

low, that this nation redistributes

more to the poorest 20% of the

population than virtually any other

developed country. This Government

has reinforced Australia's safety

net but we also believe in the

principle of mutual obligation. By

this I mean, not only that

individuals ought to do something

individuals ought to do something in return for the support they receive

from society, but also, that in

order for the society and the

Government to help people in need

they need to be willing to do

something to help themselves. Far

from undermining social protection,

policies that promote responsible

behaviour and self-reliance are

essential pillars of a

essential pillars of a compassionate Australia. We strike the right

balance between state support and

personal responsibility in the

provision of human services. Our

health and education institutions

are far from perfect. But by global

standards their quality is high and

they are well resourced. In the

years ahead we must continue with

reforms that make our hospitals and

schools respond to the needs of

individuals and not those of

bureaucracies. The great test of

bureaucracies. The great test of our policy balance in coming decades

will be our ability to reconcile

inexerable demographic change with

demands for Australians in greater

choice for education, health,

choice for education, health, family support and work opportunities.

support and work opportunities. This will only be done by staying the

course with reforms to the way we

work and to our welfare

arrangements. The first of the baby

boomers are now turning 60. This

milestone roughly coincides with

milestone roughly coincides with the beginning of an expected decline in

Australia's labour force

participation rate over coming

decades. Today there are roughly

five working age Australians for

every Australian over 65. In two

generations that figure will have

fallen to about 2.5. To sustain our

prosperity in the face of this

prosperity in the face of this trend we must ensure that young

Australians have skills for a

lifetime and we must reward them

when they work. The social

when they work. The social attitudes report that I mentioned a moment

report that I mentioned a moment ago also had something to say about

also had something to say about what ordinary Australians think of the

Australian achievement. It found

that compared with a decade ago

fewer Australians are ashamed of

this nation's past. I welcome this

corrective in our national sense of

self-. It restores a better balance

between pride in our past and

recognition of past wrongs.

Australians have not lost sight of

the mistakes and injustices of our

past, especially in the treatment

past, especially in the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait

islander peoples as the first

Australians. We know there is

further to go on the road to

reconciliation with indigenous

Australia. As I've said before as a

Government we are willing to meet

the indigenous people more than

the indigenous people more than half way on this road. By sharing

responsibility, Governments and

communities, can help indigenous

Australians build better lives,

Australians build better lives, free from welfare depen den si and based

on solid economic foundations. If

sometimes slow, progress is being

made based on indigenous and

non-indigenous Australians working

side by side. But the 40th

anniversary of the historic 1967

referendum approaching next year

referendum approaching next year our aim should be to deepen this legacy.

At the centenary of federation five

years ago I said that Australia's

crowning achievement, born of its

egalitarian tradition was its

egalitarian tradition was its social cohesion. I still believe that. No

country has absorbed as many people

from as many nations and as many

cultures as Australia and done it

cultures as Australia and done it so well. The strength of a dullurally

diverse community united by an

overriding and unifying commitment

to Australia is one of our greatest

achievements and one of our great

national assets. Some have

questioned my optimism, especially

in the wake of the violence in

Sydney earlier this summer. These

events brought shame on all

involved. Australians whatever

involved. Australians whatever their background deserve to be treated

with tolerance and with respect.

Racial intolerance is incompatible

with the kind of society we are and

want to be. Within limits all

Australians have the right to

express their culture and beliefs

and participate freely in our

national life. And all Australians

have a civic responsibility to

support the basic structures and

values of Australian society which

guarantee us our freedom and our

equality. The criminal behaviour of

last December should be met with

last December should be met with the full force of the law. But I do not

believe it calls for either

believe it calls for either national self-fladge lation or moral panic.

Our response should reflect this

nation's unswerving commitment to

racial equality that coupled with

racial equality that coupled with an absolute determination to ensure

that all sections of the Australian

community are fully intergrated

community are fully intergrated into the mainstream of our national life.

That involves a willingness on the

part of the collective Australian

nation to achieve that and an

acceptance by all sections of the

Australian community that that

outcome should be achieved. On

outcome should be achieved. On these bed rock principles rest both

bed rock principles rest both rights and responsibilities that apply to

all Australians. In the 21st

all Australians. In the 21st century maintaining our social cohesion

maintaining our social cohesion will remain the highest test of the

Australian achievement. It demands

the best Australian ideals of

tolerance and decency as well as

tolerance and decency as well as the best Australian traditions of

realism and of balance. Australia's

ethnic diversity is one of the

enduring strengths of our nation.

Yet our celebration of diversity

must not be at the expense of the

common values that bind us together

as one people. Respect for the

freedom and dignity of the

individual, a commitment to the

individual, a commitment to the rule of law, the equality of men and

women, and a spirit of

egalitarianism that embraces

tolerance, fair play and compassion,

for those in need. Nor should it be

at the expense of ongoing pride in

what are commonly regarded as the

values, traditions and acome accomplishments of the old

Australia. A sense of shared values

is our social cement. Without it

with we risk becoming society

governed by cohersion rather than

consent. That is not an Australia

any of us would want to live in.

Again, our goal must be to strive

for a balance in questions of

national identity and cultural

diversity. And for the most part I

think we achieve it. We've drawn

back from being too obsessed with

diversity to a point where

Australians are now better able to

appreciate the enduring values of

the national character that we

proudly celebrate and preserve. We

have moved on from a time when

multiculturalism in the words of

multiculturalism in the words of the historian Gregory Melish came to be

associated with and I quote, "The

transformation of Australia from a

bad old Australia that was

xenophobic, racist and mon know

cultural to a good new cull

Australia that is culturally

diverse, tolerant and exciting.

diverse, tolerant and exciting." Such a view was always a distortion

and a caricature. Most nations

experience some level of cultural

diversity. While also having a

dominant cultural pattern running

through them. In Australia's case

that dominant pattern come prizes

Judah Christian ethics the

progressive spirit of the

enlightenment, and the institutions

and values of British political

culture. It's democratic and

egalitarian temper also bears the

imprint of distinct Irish and

non-conformist traditions. Of

non-conformist traditions. Of course each wave of new settlers to

Australia influences our culture

Australia influences our culture and character. Helping to forge new

attitudes and traditions. From our

art and literature to our

scholarship and diplomacy, greater

cultural diversity has changed how

we see ourselves and how we view

we see ourselves and how we view the world. It has contributed to our

more enterprising and

more enterprising and entrepreneural society. We should have faith in

what we have achieved and what we

have become. Quite apart from a

strong focus on Australian values I

believe the time has also come for

root and branch renewal of the

teaching of Australian history in

our schools both in terms of the

numbers learning and the way it is

taught. For many years it's been

taught. For many years it's been the case that fewer than one in four

senior secondary students in

Australia take a history subject.

Only a fraction of this study

relates to Australian history. Real

concerns also surround the teaching

of Australian history in lower

secondary and primary schools. Too

often the history has fallen victim

in an ever more crowded curriculum

to subjects deemed more relevant to

today. Too often it is taught

without any sense of structured

narrative, replaced by a fragmented

stew of themes and issues. And too

often history, along with other

subjects in humanities, has

succumbed to a post modern culture,

a relativism where any objective

record of achievement is questioned

or repudiated. Part of preparing

young Australians to be informed

young Australians to be informed and active citizens is to teach them

active citizens is to teach them the central kurence of our nation's

development. The subject matter

should include indigenous history

should include indigenous history as part of the whole national

inheritance. It should also cover

the great and enduring heritage of

western civilisation, those nations

that became the major contrary buy

tries of European settlement and in

turn a sense of the original ways

turn a sense of the original ways in which Australians from diverse

backgrounds have created our own

distinct history. It is impossible

for example, to understand the

history of this country without an

understanding of the evolution of

parliamentary democracy or the

parliamentary democracy or the ideas that galvanised the enlitenment. In

the end young people are at risk of

being disinherited from their

community in that community lacks

the courage and confidence to teach

its history. This applies as much

its history. This applies as much to the children of 7th generation

Australians or indigenous children

as it does to those of recent

migrants, young Australian Muslims

or indeed any other category one

might want to mention. Because when

it comes to being an Australian

there is no hierarchy of dissent.

Whether our ancestors were here

thousands of years ago, whether

thousands of years ago, whether they came on the first fleet in the 19th

century or whether we or our

ancestors are amongst the millions

of Australians who have come to our

shores since the Second World War

shores since the Second World War we are all equally Australians, one no

better than the other. So tomorrow

let us indeed celebrate our

diversity but we should also affirm

the sentiment that propelled our

nation to federation 105 years ago,

one people, one destiny.

one people, one destiny. Australia's standing in the world had never

standing in the world had never been higher. We are seen as a fair

higher. We are seen as a fair minded and generous country. We are seen

and generous country. We are seen as a country that stands up for what

a country that stands up for what it believes in. We are respected for

who we are, for the quality of our

ideas and for the unique

ideas and for the unique perspective we bring to our region and to the

world. The divisive phoney debate

about national identity and what it

means for our influence in the

means for our influence in the world has been finally laid to rest.

Australia is a liberral democracy

with global political and economic

interests and a proud history of

defending freedom against its

enemies. We do not have to smother

or apologise for our place in the

western political tradition, in

order to build our relationships in

Asia or in any other part of the

world. To grasp what I mean when I

say that Australia occupies a

say that Australia occupies a unique intersection of history, geography,

culture and economic circumstance

culture and economic circumstance is quite simple. Simply look at what

quite simple. Simply look at what we do. Last December Australia was at

the centre of the inaugural east

Asia summit in quaul quaul. A

Asia summit in quaul quaul. A simple just of our proximity and trade

links with Asia but of the values

and relationships we bring to

regional engainment. Two weeks ago

we convened the first meeting of

Asia Pacific

we convened the first meeting of the Asia Pacific partnership on climate

change in Sydney. Illustrating our

capacity to build regional cool

capacity to build regional cool ligs and to lead on issues of global

significance. In a few weeks time

Melbourne will host the

Melbourne will host the Commonwealth Games, an event that combines our

history, our passion for sport and

Australia's unrivalled capacity to

stage major events in a friendly

stage major events in a friendly and sophisticated environment. In

August, the trade minister will

August, the trade minister will host a meeting of the Cannes group

marking two decades of Australia's

cruise said to free up world

agriculture trade. And in November

the group of 20 nations will gather

in Australia as the Treasurer leads

efforts to update and strengthen

efforts to update and strengthen the world's financial architecture. The

Government's commitment to capture

and harness the opportunities of

globalisation for the betterment of

all our people is a major driver of

our international strategy. In the

21st century for the first time in

history, we are witnessing the

emergence of a global middle class.

Of all the deep trends in global

politics few will match this one.

Previously the vast bulk of the

world's middle class citizens lived

in the industrialised countries -

the United States, Canada, Western

Europe, Japan and Australia, this

Europe, Japan and Australia, this is no longer the case. It's estimated

that India and China combined could

easily produce middle classes of

easily produce middle classes of 400 to 800 million people over the next

two generaler yags, roughly the

two generaler yags, roughly the size of the current middle class

populations of the United States,

Western Europe and Japan combined.

Based on what we know about the

relationship between income growth,

health standards, political

participation and environmental

stewardship, the growth of this

global middle class represents an

enormously positive development for

the world and for Australia. It

the world and for Australia. It also illuminates the historic nature of

the Australian achievement as a

global pioneer of good Government

and human development. Of course

and human development. Of course our world is also fragmented and in

conflict. This is the fifth year

that we have lived under the shadow

of global terrorism, and nothing

suggests that this shadow is

suggests that this shadow is lifting any time soon. Terrorism remains

any time soon. Terrorism remains the defining element in Australia's

security environment. Australians

and Australian interests continue

and Australian interests continue to be a terrorist target both abroad

and at home. This tests our sense

and at home. This tests our sense of balance no less than our resolve.

balance no less than our resolve. We know what our enemies think and

know what our enemies think and what they are capable of. They hate our

freedoms and our way of life. They

despise our democratic values. They

have nothing but contempt for a

diverse society which practices

tolerance and respect. Australia

must continue to work with friends

and allies in the fight against

global terrorism and in 2006 living

with the threat of terrorism also

means recognising that national

security begins at home. Our social

cohesion and national unity is

pivotal in enabling Australia to

combine effectively to the

international - contribute

effectively to the international

effort to combat terrorism and to

safeguard Australia domestically.

This Government will do what is

necessary to protect the Australian

community but we will do it in a

community but we will do it in a way that does not diminish us as a

community or as a nation. This

community or as a nation. This means finding the right balance between

the legitimate interests of the

community on the one hand and

individual civil rights on the

other. Inevitably this will be a

matter for passionate debate. Some

Australians have argued in recent

times that the balance has moved

times that the balance has moved too far. They want to shift it in the

other direction principally through

a bill of rights. I believe this

would be a big mistake for our

democracy. A bill of rights would

not materially increase the

not materially increase the freedoms of Australian citizens. It will not

make us more united, indeed I

believe it would lessen our ability

to manage and to resolve conflict

to manage and to resolve conflict in a free society. It will also take

a free society. It will also take us further away from the type of civic

culture we need to meet the

challenges of today and tomorrow.

challenges of today and tomorrow. No matter how skillfully crafted a

matter how skillfully crafted a bill of rights always embodies the

potential for misinterpretation,

unintended consequences or

accidental exclusion. History is

repleat with examples of where

repleat with examples of where grand charters and lyric phrases have

failed to protect the basic rights

and freedoms of a nation's citizens.

The strength and vitality of

Australian democracy rests on three

great institutional pillars - our

Parliament with its tradition of

robust debate, the rule of law

upheld by an independent and had

Mirably incorruptible judiciary,

Mirably incorruptible judiciary, and a free and sceptical press of the

sort that we politicians simply

adore. I've called this trilogy in

the past the real title deeds of

the past the real title deeds of our democracy. A political inheritance

that has given us a record of

stability and cohesion, that is the

envy of the world. I have never

envy of the world. I have never been persuaded by those who claim that

the road to good Government is via

taking more and more decisions out

of the hands of the people's

of the hands of the people's elected representative. It passes my

comprehension that people should

devote their life and their energy

to securing a place in one of the

Parliaments of the nation and then

spend much of their time suggesting

that decisions should be passed by

that Parliament to unelected

individuals or unelected bodies. In

our parliamentary democracy

politicians are elected to make

decisions on behalf of the

community. They are elected by the

people and ultimately they are

answerable to the people for the

decisions they make. To draw these

decisions away from the legislature

and the executive and to invest

and the executive and to invest them in the hands of the judiciary would

irrevokably change our democracy

irrevokably change our democracy and it would hamper our ability to

respond to changes in a way that

reflects the realities we now face.

Incidentally does anyone seriously

contend that we can improve the

education of our children, raise

education of our children, raise our national productivity, or better

care for older Australians, by

further entrenching the language

further entrenching the language and culture of rights in our public

discourse? Together, responsive

democratic institutions and an

active civil society provide more

effective protection for the rights

of Australian citizens than any

charter of rights could hope to

achieve. Let me again cite the

Australian social attitudes report

on the state of our civil society.

Contrary to the pessimism of some

commentators it found that

Australians are not losing trust in

each other. The voluntary sector,

the life blood of active Australian

citizenship remains strong and

healthy with 86% of respondents

belonging to at least one voluntary

association. Australians have lost

none of their volunteer spirit or

the democratic temper for which

the democratic temper for which they are renounce nouned. Our ability to

poke fun at those in positions of

power is undiminished. We cannot

abide preten shousness in our

abide preten shousness in our public officials and we laugh at those who

take themselves too seriously.

take themselves too seriously. Warts and all I believe in our unique

democracy because I believe

passionately in the virtue of

politics. The political philosopher

Bernard Crick put it well when he

said and I quote, "The moral

consensus of a free state is not

something mysteriously prior to or

above politics, it is the activity,

the civilising activity of politics

itself." With all its compromises,

per okallism and imperfection this

place of mere politics does work as

the great balancing wheel of our

national life. Australia is one of

only a handful of nations to have

carried the torch of democracy

through a turbulent 20th century.

through a turbulent 20th century. We began the century the first nation

ever to come into being following a

people's vote on a democratic

constitution. We ended it staging

the most successful Olympic Games

the most successful Olympic Games of all time. So far in this new

all time. So far in this new century we've made a good start, our

we've made a good start, our economy is strodge, our society is cohesive,

our nation is respected around the

world, our democracy is robust. If

there is a lesson I've drawn from

the last almost 10 years as Prime

Minister it is that Australia's

greatness is not found in its Gross

Domestic Product, the size of its

defence Budget or its international stand

standing important, though all of

these things are. It is found in

these things are. It is found in the good and decent and generous

character of the Australian people.

Tomorrow let us renew our face in

the Australian achievement. We have

great cause for optimism if we keep

our balance. Thank you

Thank you Prime Minister for this

first National Australia Bank

address of the year and I'm sure

that the chief executive officer of

the National Australia Bank was

the National Australia Bank was here to hear it. As usual we have the

period of media questions. The

period of media questions. The first free and sceptical question today

free and sceptical question today is from Tony Wright. Today's speech

perhaps could be reentitled by

headline writer - Howard's

headline writer - Howard's Australia and I understand of course that

you're probably not going to

enlighten us as to when that era

enlighten us as to when that era may end. However, we can probably

end. However, we can probably assume that there will come a time when

Prime Minister John Howard is no

longer the Prime Minister of

Australia. When Peter Costello was

in the United States of America

recently, he muzed that we don't

honour our leaders in Australia or

haven't up to this point in the

haven't up to this point in the same way that the United States honours

its Presidents with things like

libraries and great efforts put

libraries and great efforts put into museums and all the rest of it. I

just wonder whether you might have

just wonder whether you might have a comment upon that and whether or

comment upon that and whether or not you would be prepared to gather

together your papers for a John

Howard library some time in the

future? I don't have a comment on

it. I would however remind you that

a balance in public life is

important and I spent some time

talking about that, so is the

careful use of tenses when one

careful use of tenses when one gives answers and I always prefer to talk

in the present tense. Mark Riley

from the Seven Network. I know your

topic today was national character.

I wanted to ask you a question

I wanted to ask you a question about the character of the nationals.

the character of the nationals. What do you have to say to those

increasing numbers today of

increasing numbers today of National members who are threatening to vote

against your Government's policy,

particularly what action would you

take if a Cabinet minister were to

do such a thing? Mark, I understand

how my colleagues and friends in

how my colleagues and friends in the National Party feel about Senator

McGauran's resignation and

application to join the Liberal

Party. I'm quite certain that if a

Liberal had done what he has done

there ould would be equal anger in

the ranks of the Liberal Party,

the ranks of the Liberal Party, that is the nature of politics and I

think we should be Frank about that.

They are understandably upset, I

respect that and encourage all of respect that and encourage all of my Liberal colleagues to understand

that. So far as the making of

Government policy is concerned, by

definition the National Party is

part of that process. It is a

Coalition Government. The deputy

Prime Minister of Australia is the

leader of the National Party. On

Friday he will leave Australia to

Friday he will leave Australia to go to Europe to chair a six-nation

group which is dealing with the

implementation of the agreements

that were reached in the context of

the World Trade Organisation. I

the World Trade Organisation. I have every reason to be confident that

the Coalition will continue and I

the Coalition will continue and I do not believe, difficult and

not believe, difficult and sensitive though the events of the past few

days have been for my friends in

days have been for my friends in the National Party, I do not believe

that any permanent damage will be

done. It was a decision of Senator

McGauran's, it was not one that I

was aware of until Sunday evening.

was aware of until Sunday evening. I do again fully understand the

feelings of my National Party

colleagues and I ask my Liberal

colleagues to understand that and I

just remind everybody that just as

the majority party forms the

Government or the majority grouping

is determined by the arithmetic in

the House of Representatives so has

always been the case that the

arithmetic determines the

allocation. The number of people in

the 42 executive positions has not

altered but been a shift because of

the numbers between the outer

ministry and the parliamentary

secretaries. That is a result of

Senator McGauran's resignation even

before any decision is made by the

Victorian division of the Liberal

Party about his membership. I

understand why my colleagues in the

National Party feel as they do,

National Party feel as they do, they do feel letdown, that is

understandable and perfectly

understandable in the circumstances.

I think it's also important in my

position, and it's a view that

others of my senior colleagues have

taken, that at the end of the day,

maintaining our slender majority in

the Senate is important and

therefore there is nothing is to be

achieved by Senator McGauran being

politically stateless. He's

politically stateless. He's resigned from the National Party. He's not

going to rejoin the National Party

therefore we have to be common

therefore we have to be common sense about this. But I am optimistic I

think we'll continue to have a very

cohesive Coalition, but that always

requires a bit of give and take and

a bit of understanding and an

acceptance that people do have

proper sensitivities and feelings

proper sensitivities and feelings of proper dealings and they're

proper dealings and they're entitled to have those and entitled to

express them. But my responsibility

is the continuity of strong and

stable Coalition Government and

stable Coalition Government and that will go on and that will continue

will go on and that will continue to be achieved and do not believe that

there will be any impairment of a

significant kind to that task by

what has happened. Jim middle on

what has happened. Jim middle on the from ABC news Prime Minister. I was

interested in your comments about

what you see as the defects of

teaching of history in Australia

teaching of history in Australia and what you term the post modern stew

of rel tiffivism. Do you see a role

for your Government in correcting

this defect. Continuing that theme

as a significant figure yourself as

in the continuing narrative of

Australian history Sir Robert

menessys was a fine Prime Minister

into his 70s. Do you think that you

would not will but would be

similarly up to the task four years

from now? Jim I'm not going to

answer that beyond referring to you

what I've previously said on the

subject. On the question, that's

subject. On the question, that's the last bit. On the question of

history, look I would like to,

enlist a Coalition of the willing

enlist a Coalition of the willing if I can use a phrase, a Coalition of

the willing to bring about a change

in attitudes. Now it's not

in attitudes. Now it's not something where obviously the Commonwealth

where obviously the Commonwealth has the first and prime curriculum

responsibility but I've read a few

things that the former New South

Wales Premier Mr Carr has said on

this subject. I mean I don't know

that the balance in the curriculum

would be quite as heavily skewed to

the history of the American civil

war as Mr Carr might like but I

think there is a real case for a

think there is a real case for a lot of people across the political

divide to try and tackle this issue.

What I want is a recognition that

you cannot get people to understand

the history of a country unless you

have some kind of chronological

narrative teaching of history. This

idea that we should move away from

sort of knowing when the battle of

Hastings was or knowing when

Hastings was or knowing when Captain Cook came to Australia or knowing

when certain things occurred simply

because that's an old hat rot way

because that's an old hat rot way of learning is ridiculous. You have to

have some structure. You can't

have some structure. You can't learn history by teaching issues. You can

only learn and understanding

only learn and understanding history by knowing what happened and why it

happened and of course teaching of

issues and influences is clearly

part of that. But I would like to

see a lot of people who share the

view that I do to contribute to

this, it's not something that I

this, it's not something that I just see as necessarily as a Liberal

versus, or a lib kal Coalition

versus the rest. I think it's

something that we need to enlist

teachers in. We are going to strike

tremendous resistance from some of

the education bureaucracies because

they have been, some of them,

responsible for entrenching the

approach that I've condemned in

entrenching it in cirricula. I

entrenching it in cirricula. I think it's a very important cause. You

cannot understand Australia,

Australian history without knowing

more about the indigenous history

more about the indigenous history of this country. Equally you cannot

understand the history of this

country without understanding

British history, without

understanding the way in which the

institutions we inherited from

Britain evolved. You cannot

understand it without understanding

fully the political tides in Europe

and of course you cannot understand

it with a proper structured

understanding of the history of

European interaction with Asia and

Africa and all of the things that

have shaped our experience in this

country over the last 50 years. I

just think we have done very badly

with this over the last few dae

with this over the last few dae kads and I sense in the community a

desire to do something about it.

Jeff Barker Australian financial

review, Prime Minister. Given the

impressive national economic

prosperity that you've highlighted

and the values of tolerance,

decency, generalersity, fairness

decency, generalersity, fairness and non-cohersion to which you're

committed. Are you entirely reacted

with the way Government has dealt

and is dealing with asylum seekers

including the present group of West

Papuians who seem by default to be

wear housed in offshore islands and

left for extensive periods

left for extensive periods wondering about their futures? I don't know

about their futures? I don't know if the leaving waiting for extended

periods can be described in

periods can be described in relation to Australia's treatment of them.

Some of them have only just come. I

think that's a little unreasonable.

The broad answer is yes, the asylum

issue is hard, it's once again a

question of balance between

humanitarian assessment of people's

entitlements and the people who

entitlements and the people who have arrived are all going to be

arrived are all going to be properly assessed and also the need that

assessed and also the need that this country clearly and evidentially

country clearly and evidentially has to send a message that ad hoc

illegal arrivals in this country is

not something that we encourage. I

think we have struck that balance

correctly. Louise Dodson from the

Sydney Morning Herald Mr Howard.

Just continuing on the question

Just continuing on the question from Mark Riley, what is your message to

National Party Senators not

ministers who are saying that they

may as a result of all this may

withdraw support in the Senate for

Government legislation? Also, I

wanted another question, I was

wondering what your reaction to the

record road toll over the summer

period was and whether there was

going to be any move by the Federal

Government on this? Louise in

relation to the first question I'm

not going to respond to particular

comments made by National Party

colleagues except to observe as I

did that I understand how they feel.

I'm not going to get into a via, by

courtesy of your question I'm not

going to get into some kind of

response I don't think anything is

achieved by that and I think we

achieved by that and I think we just all get on with life and understand

the feelings but also understand

the feelings but also understand the realities of the world in which we

live. The road toll over the summer

period has been incredibly

distressing. I don't propose a

particular Commonwealth initiative

in relation to a particular road

toll I don't want to sound in any

way insensitive. But this is and

it's not meant critically because I

think state police labour very

manfully to do everything they can

to reduce it. But this is

overwhelmingly something for which

the state police forces and State

Governments are responsible. I have

to express the view just watching

the news and listening to the

the news and listening to the stream of reports that over and over again

when you see examples of cars going

off the road and single vehicle

accidents on a lot of roads not

frequently used you can't help but

conclude that driver error and

driver carelessness is

overwhelmingly the reason. Whilst I

accept that there is always a

accept that there is always a strong case for more Government

case for more Government expenditure on both levels on roads I think the

attempts by some people to grab

attempts by some people to grab hold of a tragically larger than

of a tragically larger than expected road toll as an argument for more

roads expenditure does rather miss

the point. Maria Hawthorn from

Australian associated press. Going

back to the nationals, can you

explain why the departure of one

Senator altered the numbers so much

that the nationals had to lose a

member of the outer ministry?

Wouldn't it have been better to

maybe hold off until the next

reshuffle whenever that might be

rather than punishing the nationals

at a time when they were already

very sensitive? The truth is that

very sensitive? The truth is that - Prior to Julian McGauran's

Prior to Julian McGauran's departure in relation to the percentages in

the ministry there was already a

some what of an over representation

and that was balanced out, if you

included the 12 parliamentary

secretaries and Julian's

secretaries and Julian's resignation took it even further out of balance

and it was quite obvious if you

and it was quite obvious if you look at the percentages and I don't want

to bore everybody with them but if

you want them they're easy to

achieve but quite plainly we have a

situation now where if you take the

30 ministers, the representation of

the National Party is as near as

the National Party is as near as you can get it to their entitlement, if

you take to 42 it's the same. Now

they're just the facts. This is not

something I brought about. It's not

something the Liberal Party brought

about it want to make that very

plain. Can I also make the point

very plain that if the boot were on

the other foot, if say at the next

election the proportions were to

change in favour of the National

Party, the National Party would be

entitled to require and would get

entitled to require and would get in any Coalition negotiation greater

numbers. There is not the first

numbers. There is not the first time an adjustment has been made. There

was an adjustment made after the

2001 election. Paul Bonjourno

network 10 Prime Minister. Is it

network 10 Prime Minister. Is it not a fact that if Senator Julian ga

gaur ur was run over a bus tomorrow

that the that the constitution

that the that the constitution would require the Victorian state

Parliament to fill his vacancy with

another National Party Senator?

another National Party Senator? Does this fact not feed into the

this fact not feed into the feelings the national's Queensland President

Bruce Scott who believes you've

treated the National Party shab

illy? Well I haven't treated the

National Party shabbily. I think I

have a long record of treating the

National Party in a very mood of

mateship. In fact some people in

mateship. In fact some people in the Liberal Party have suggested over

the years that I have been too

generaler use to the National Party

so I must have got that elusive

balance about right now. I think I

probably have. Now what you say is

true but what you say is high Po

athleticical, it didn't happen. We

often talk in answering questions

about being run over by buses but

about being run over by buses but we all try to avoid those buses don't

we Paul. The truth is that the man

in question has resigned from the

National Party, I did not want him

to do that, I did not encourage him

to do it, but he's done it. He's

resigned. Now the realistic thing

resigned. Now the realistic thing is to move on. Now I know it's good

to move on. Now I know it's good fun for you fellas not to but I just

think that is the realistic

situation. I think there is nothing

we can do about that and I might

also gently point out to you that

also gently point out to you that he was elected as part of a Coalition

ticket under an arrangement that

ticket under an arrangement that I'm very familiar with because I

negotiated it during the dying days

of my previous leadership of the

Liberal Party back in 1989. So I am

very very familiar with all of the

history and all of the

history and all of the circumstances that brought about the arrangement.

It's happened and it wasn't our

fault, you can't ignore numbers in

politics. Can I also make the point

that Mark Vaile and I met on

that Mark Vaile and I met on Tuesday night and had dinner in Sydney on

Tuesday night and all of these

arrangements were agreed, they were

agreed in an amicable fashion. We

are both realistic men. We both

understand the force of numbers in

politics and we reached the

conclusion we did. It's a fair

balance. You have to take into

account the desires, obviously, of

account the desires, obviously, of a large number of liberals who have

been in Parliament for a long time

who feel they might be entitled to

some kind of promotion as well. You

just have to achieve once again a

balance between their interest and

the sensitivity of their colleagues.

I guess the other point I'd make is

that the real decision making body

in the Government is the Cabinet.

There are three National Party

ministers in the Cabinet including

the deputy Prime Minister and if

the deputy Prime Minister and if you want to be pe Dan tick about it in

percentage terms that's much

percentage terms that's much greater than the entitlement but something

I've adhered to very strongly.

That's the body that takes most of

the decisions. Three out of those

the decisions. Three out of those 17 are National Party ministers and

will remain National Party

will remain National Party ministers barring some really major

barring some really major alteration in the numbers between the two

parties. Samantha Madden from the

Australian. You've made the call

today for greater reform in the

today for greater reform in the area of health and education. Yet

of health and education. Yet critics in your own Government have argued

that regulation red tape have grown

after the last decade and recalls

for greater simply case of the tax

system. What prakt dal reforms can

the Government introduce in those

areas, red tape, tax, what changes

would you like to see in this next

year? I think red tape is an issue

the Government has to come to terms

with I expect to have in my hands

quite soon a report from the

committee headed by Gary Banks

committee headed by Gary Banks which I set up, you remember two or three

months ago and has to report I

months ago and has to report I think by the end of this month or early

next month. I think business has a

legitimate complaint about the

volume of red tape at the present

time. I think what's happened is

time. I think what's happened is the economy has been going so well and

things have happened and laws get

passed and changes are made and

regulation is piled upon regulation

and not much notice is taken of it

because everybody is so busy

employing people and making good

profits but there comes a time when

you do a bit of a stock take and

you do a bit of a stock take and you say gee this has all got a bit out

of hand. I think there is a case

there and we do have a

responsibility as a Government to

try and do something about it. Once

again we have to try and achieve

that elusive balance between

recognising and having too much red

tape on the other hand also

understanding there is a public

interest in ensuring that errant

corporate behaviour is dealt with

but, I mean, in the end, if you

overregulate the place, the

consequences are far more serious

sometimes than some of the

sometimes than some of the corporate behaviour. Prime Minister, I'm

behaviour. Prime Minister, I'm sorry and to all those potential

questioners that time had caught up

with us. Thank you very much for

that. You've had many souvenirs of

these appearances here's another

one. It's heavier than it looks.

Thank you very much and we look

forward to the next time. Thanks.

Captions by Captioning and Subtitling International.