Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Transcript of doorstop interview of the Prime Minister the Hon John Howard, MP: Wharf 8, Sydney Harbour, Sydney: 29 May 2005: Industrial relations; drought; immigration; Douglas Wood.\n



Download PDFDownload PDF

PRIME MINISTER

29 May 2005

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP DOORSTOP INTERVIEW WHARF 8, SYDNEY

Subjects: industrial relations; drought; immigration; Douglas Wood.

E&OE………………………………………………………………………………

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, on industrial relations - there’s been a survey done by the ACTU which has revealed that 60 per cent of respondents are not in favour of the changes, and 72 per cent are opposed particularly to removing the protection in relation to unfair dismissals. Has that got you worried about a further backlash?

PRIME MINISTER:

No. I understand that survey was commenced before the policy was announced.

JOURNALIST:

It ran over the…

PRIME MINISTER:

No. Well, I don’t think a survey commenced before the policy was announced has much veracity.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think the Government will need to do more to sell those IR changes to the Australian people?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well any big change must, of course, be explained and it will be, but I have no doubt that these changes will be good for the Australian economy, they will help employment, and all of the scare tactics that were engaged in 10 years ago when we made changes, which were proved wrong, will be proved wrong again.

JOURNALIST:

The ACTU hasn’t ruled out industrial action, (inaudible)?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think anybody is entitled to use legitimate means to argue their case. I think the Australian public will make their judgement about the response of both the ACTU and others. But we’re a democracy. People have got a right to express their view, providing it’s done appropriately.

JOURNALIST:

Are you expecting a showdown…

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m sorry. Say that again.

JOURNALIST:

Are you expecting a showdown with the State Premiers?

PRIME MINISTER:

No. I think we’ll have a calm and civilised gathering.

JOURNALIST:

Steve Bracks today is saying that he’ll be calling on his counterparts to not hand over power to the Government when it comes to industrial relations, because he says it will bad for the average worker. What would you say to that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Victoria handed over its industrial relations powers in 1996 and Victorians have not been worse off as a result of that. So, I think we’ll all just take this fairly calmly and I’m sure it will work out.

JOURNALIST:

On the drought, Kim Beazley is today saying that the latest drought package was perhaps due out during the week, and he’s saying that the Government is perhaps waiting for a slow news day to announce it, at the cost of farmers, so that there’s good coverage.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I don’t really know what all that means.

JOURNALIST:

How soon are you going to announce the drought package?

PRIME MINISTER:

We will announce the drought package when we’ve taken final decisions, but I visited rural Australia last Friday week, and we’ve been giving a lot of thought; we’ve been talking to the Members of Parliament who represent rural seats. I’ve been talking to the National Farmers’ Federation. We want to get the details of it right, and I would expect to be in a position to announce it in a few days.

JOURNALIST:

Are you in favour of cash grants or interest rate subsidies?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well let’s wait and see until when the package is announced, then you’ll know.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, nine people were given refugee visas on Nauru yesterday. Does that signal a major shift in policy within the Immigration Department?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, that was the decision of the Immigration Department, and those decisions are taken all the time. We won’t be altering our basic position regarding mandatory detention. Mandatory detention is essential to maintain the deterrents that now exist for people to come to this country as illegal immigrants. And I want to make it clear we will not change that policy, but we will continue, as we have in the past, to take opportunities of administering it in a sensible and compassionate fashion. Now, that particular decision was taken by the Immigration Department exercising its authority, and it was not a decision that was referred to me. Those decisions aren’t. The Immigration Department takes those decisions every day, so to speak, and they don’t need the approval of the Prime Minster, or the Cabinet, or indeed the Minister. Last question.

JOURNALIST:

On the Douglas Wood matter, Prime Minister. Sheik Hilaly has made yet further comments about positive developments in his rescue. What are your thoughts on what he’s had to say?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I don’t think it’s helpful for me to give a running commentary. This is a very delicate situation. I appreciate the goodwill and the positive efforts of anybody who is trying to help this poor man, and the best way that I can help is to be careful in what I say.

Thank you.

[ends]