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Official opening of Murrin Murrin Nickel Cobalt Project Stage 1, Leonora, Western Australia, 29 July 1999: transcript of address.



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PRIME MINISTER

 

29 July 1999

 

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER

THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP

ADDRESS AT OFFICIAL OPENING OF MURRIN MURRIN NICKEL COBALT PROJECT STAGE 1

LEONORA, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

 

E&OE

 

Thank you very much, Andrew; to Richard Court, the Premi er of Western Australia; to Alan Coogan, the Chairman of Anaconda Nickel; to you Sadie, thank you most warmly for your very gracious welcome extended on behalf of your people; to my Federal colleague, Barry Haase, the member for Kalgoorlie; to Graham Kieres and Collin Barnett, Ministers in the Western Australian Government, other parliamentary colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.

 

Can I say how very pleased I am to be associated with a project that so evidently has brought together in a spirit of cooperation and a sense of purpose different elements of the Australian community.  When I listened to what Sadie had to say in her welcome and when I listened to what the Managing Director had to say about the cooperation between the company and the Aboriginal people I thought what they were saying represented something of a role model to the rest of Australia as to the attitudes that should be taken and the path of action that should be pursued.  It is an attitude that says we must work together.  It’s also an attitude to say that everybody in this community has responsibilities as well as rights.  And it’s an attitude that says that the wealth of this country should be shared and that the foundation of individual achievement and self fulfillment is that people should have a sense of dignity and self worth and a sense of economic empowerment and a sense of economic independence.  And I think they are a very sound set of principles and I’m delighted that they have been practiced in this marvelous project.

 

I’ve met a lot of managing directors and I’ve been to a lot of openings in the 25 years that I’ve been in Parliament.  I’ve been to a lot of mines.  I’ve been to a lot of factories.  I’ve been to a lot of farms.  But I don’t think I’ve met a more self-evidently enthusiastic and dedicated managing director than I’ve met in Andrew Forrest.  I have the vague impression that he quite likes this venture and I have the vague impression that he has a genuine affection for all of those people who are associated with it.  Because what you have gathered here today are everybody who’s played a role.  And not least of course you have the workforce.  No enterprise, be it a mining enterprise or a manufacturing enterprise or any other kind of enterprise is going to be successful unless there’s a spirit of cooperation with the workforce.  And that is clearly the case with this project as evidenced by the speed with which things that normally take a long period of time have been achieved, the cooperation and attitude of people and the spirit of joint endeavor and joint commitment.  And that speaks volumes not only for the leadership of the company but it also speaks volumes for those who are part of that great enterprise and most particularly the workforce.  And I want to acknowledge the contribution of the employees of this joint venture for bringing it to where it is today and making today possible and making the future that lies before all of us possible.

 

We’re all entitled to a short commercial on an occasion like this.  And, of course, this opening is occurring at a time of very great economic strength for the whole of Australia.  Australia at the moment is enjoying record levels of economic growth.  It’s enjoying the lowest unemployment rate for more than 10 years.  It’s got the lowest inflation rate, the lowest interest rates and probably the highest level of international economic respect that this country has had in more than 30 years. 

 

A few weeks ago I visited the United States.  I wasn’t terribly successful on lamb but I was a little more successful when I went to New York where, I’ve got to say, the knowledge of and understanding of Australia is a lot deeper and a lot more sensitive than it sometimes is amongst the politicians of Washington. And I found within the financial community of New York a very great respect for the strength of the Australian economy.  Indeed in all the visits I’ve paid to that city over the last 25 years I found on this occasion a stronger connection with, knowledge of, and faith in the economic future of Australia than on any occasion.  Now, that’s very important because there’s…a bit of money comes out of that city from time to time, not only into Australia but into other parts of the world.  So I think we are witnessing, in general terms, a very good atmosphere for the Australian economy. 

 

I recognise, of course, that commodity prices are not as good as they might be.  I was in Kalgoorlie recently and people had a few things to say about the price of gold and I can understand some of the concerns and I sympathise with them and I am very cog nisant of them but I set against them the general economic health of the country.  And I want to congratulate the Western Australian Government under Richard Court’s leadership for the pro-investment climate it’s created so far as the mining industry is concerned because unless you have governments that are promoting investment in your industry then you’re not going to have a good atmospheric. 

 

Now, this is a remarkable venture.  When it’s up and running it will be the largest producer of cobalt in the world and it will be the third largest producer of nickel.  There’s a billion dollars of investment that have gone in to getting it started.  It has an almost unrivalled safety record.  It’s going to export something in the order of $500 million of export income when it’s up and running.  Now, that’s not bad for one individual company for one joint venture.  And it’s a remarkable tribute to both of the companies that form the joint venture and it’s a remarkable tribute to all of those people that have made this possible.  And it really fills me with a great sense of satisfaction and pride as Prime Minister of Australia to be associated with something that is all positive about the future.  We’re associated with a project that is going to generate wealth for our people.  It is going to generate jobs for Australians.  It’s going to generate export income for the country.  It’s going to provide a valuable resource not only for Australia but for the world community.  And it’s going to bring together in this part of Western Australia a remarkable number of talents and a remarkable number of skills.  And in the hour or so that I looked over the plant it does represent an aggregation of skill and commitment that is the source of enormous pride to me and ought to be a source of enormous satisfaction to all of those associated with it. 

 

So to you, Andrew; to you Mr Coogan, Alan, the Chairman of the company, to everybody else who’s associated with it, I want to congratulate you.  I want to thank you for inviting me to come here today.  I’m delighted to be associated with such a tremendously successful, Australian venture.  I used an expression at my party’s Federal Council meeting about a month ago when I said that I wanted Australia to become a ‘can do’ country.  I wanted it to become a country that could do things better and differently and more successfully than other countries could do it.  I wanted Australia to have enough belief and self confidence in itself to know that it could do things sometimes differently and sometimes against the tide and against the trends and against the predictions in a way that other people didn’t think were possible.  I know a lot of people thought that this project wasn’t possible and a lot of people were skeptical and critical and cynical and now it’s been brought to fruition.  It’s a marvelous demonstration of what I had in mind when I used that expression.  This is a great illustration of a ‘can do’ community supported by a group of ‘can do’ Australians.  I congratulate you.  And when I sit down and I’ll then be asked to stand up again and formally pull away the curtain but I do have great pleasure in declaring this mine operation open.  I congratulate all those associated and I wish the company every success in the years to come.  Thank you.

 

dd  1999-07-30  11:25