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Transcript of doorstop interview: Canberra: 29 August 2003: Jana Pittman; COAG.



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PRIME MINISTER

29 August 2003

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP DOORSTOP INTERVIEW, CANBERRA

Subjects: Jana Pittman; COAG.

E&OE…………………………………………………………………………………….

JOURNALIST:

Okay, should we start with something easy, I mean Jana Pittman?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that is a fantastic result, I saw it on early morning television, on the national nine early morning news, and it was great, absolutely tremendous, congratulations to her, it was a fantastic photo finish, a few yards out it didn’t look as though she’d make it, she just surged right at the end and it was a great performance. Congratulations Jana.

JOURNALIST:

Alright, COAG this morning, how did the dinner go last night with the Premiers and is health going to be on the agenda?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I’ve said all along that I’m perfectly happy one way or another to talk about health, we have made a very generous offer, 17 per cent real increase, that’s 17 per cent over and above inflation, and the States have still not indicated that they will match that offer. Now I think the Commonwealth has been very generous, very fair, we’ve put our money on the table, it’s a generous offer but it’s a final offer and I’ve made that very clear. But we’re happy to talk about issues relating to health, we’re happy to talk about issues relating to reform but as far as the next five years are concerned we’ve made our offer, it’s very generous, it’s right, it’s balanced, it’s fair, and it is a final offer.

JOURNALIST:

So it’s not a bayonet in the ribs?

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PRIME MINISTER:

The meladrama of Premier’s knows no bounds, they’re colourful phrases but we have put the money on the table, they haven’t as yet and we don’t even run these hospitals, they do, they’re not Commonwealth hospitals, we have no say in their administration, none whatsoever, they’re state hospitals yet we’ve put the money on the table and they haven’t yet guaranteed that they’ll match our money.

JOURNALIST:

Should everyone walk away from this conference today with a programme for reform, or at least a promise to set in place a programme for reform?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we have said all along that once the agreements are signed we’re quite happy to talk issues of reform. Kay Patterson, the Health Minister, has said that all along. But this sort of constant grandstanding about money when they know that our offer is very generous and very fair, the public will make its own judgement about that.

JOURNALIST:

On the other issues, a major issue on today’s agenda, water…

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I hope that everybody will rise to the national need and I’m very optimistic after my talk with the Premiers last night that that will happen, this nation needs a national water system. Water flows indiscriminately and irrespective of state boundaries, the great artesian basin doesn’t recognise state boundaries and neither do rivers and in those circumstances we need a national approach and we can only get a national approach if all of the government’s pool their sovereignty and produce something good for Australia. I think that will happen.

JOURNALIST:

It’s reported in the Sydney press this morning that New South Wales will bear a greater part of the split than the other states and the Commonwealth.

PRIME MINISTER:

The issue of funding is to be further discussed, we’ve put an offer on the table, obviously the water allocations, or over allocations around the country vary from state to state because different states have had different policies. But that’s a matter to be discussed, I don’t think we should jump to any conclusions.

Thank you.

[ends]