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Transcript of doorstop interview: Brisbane: 20 September 2006: Thailand coup; Mark Vaile; WA native Title.

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Subjects: Thailand Coup; Mark Vaile; WA Native Title

BEAZLEY: The developments in Thailand are deeply disturbing. We do not support military coups, we support democratic processes. As soon as Thailand can return to a democratic process, the better. For we who are democrats,

seeing a democratic set of institutions set aside, for whatever the reason, whatever the argument, is a poor development and a worry.

I understand that elections are due in Thailand later this year. We would strongly urge that those elections should take place and Thailand returned to a democratic set of institutions as quickly as possible.

Thailand’s made terrific progress over the course of the last decade or so. It’s in many ways, an exemplary nation in South East Asia. So, this is a very sad development.

Now, on the question of Mark Vaile, there are rumours around that in any future reshuffle, John Howard intends to shift him.

Can I just say this about Mark Vaile. He should not get a ‘get out of jail free card’. He should not be shifted to another position. Somebody has to take responsibility for the AWB scandal - and he might as well.

Somebody also has to take responsibility for the really very poor trade performance of Australia over the course of the last few years. He is the Trade Minister - he should take responsibility. And what responsibility means is you go. No ‘get out of jail free card’ should be permitted Mark Vaile - he should go.

If he does go and John Howard takes the Trade portfolio away from the National Party, then that will be an extraordinary thing for Mark Vaile’s leadership. Firstly, walking backwards, back-flipping over the sale of Telstra. Secondly, presiding over, along with Alexander Downer, Australia’s worst ever federal scandal - in AWB. And then thirdly, losing the Trade portfolio to the Liberal Party. It won’t be much of a political epithet.

JOURNALIST: So, do you think it’s the end for his leadership?

BEAZLEY: For the National Party, it would be a massive downgrading and it would be a Party very much on the way out.

But really, what we’ve got to do in our political system now is to get some people taking responsibility for maladministration when it occurs.

The reason why I say he should get no ‘get out of jail free card’ is somebody should pay a penalty for AWB. We all know that the terms of reference for the Cole Commission have been rorted by the Howard Government so that Vaile and Downer are not brought specifically into the spotlight. But nevertheless, they are responsible and in any other country in the Westminster tradition, both of them would’ve gone.

JOURNALIST: What do you make of the Native Title decision in WA?

BEAZLEY: Well, I understand it is going to be appealed by the West Australian Government and I presume that there’ll be further deliberations, therefore, on it.

JOURNALIST: Do you support that, that they appeal?

BEAZLEY: In the West Australian Government’s position, obviously would. Because on the face of it, it does seem a different decision from decisions previously taken by the High Court. So, in those circumstances where a decision is taken in the Federal Court, you’d think it would be likely that a State Government would appeal it through. But people ought to understand completely is there’s no threat entailed in any of this to anybody’s property rights in WA.

JOURNALIST: Would you be worried about the implications for future residential development on land?

BEAZLEY: Let’s just see what the appeal produces. I’m sure it will go ahead.