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Foreign Minister discusses climate change.



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MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS HON ALEXANDER DOWNER, MP

TRANSCRIPTION: PROOF COPY E & OE

DATE: Friday, 5 October 2007

TITLE: Interview - 2GB with Philip Clark - climate change.

PRESENTER: Mr Downer, good afternoon.

MR DOWNER: Good afternoon, Philip.

PRESENTER: You’re suggesting that Kevin Rudd was gilding the lily or telling porkies or something of that nature on, in his comments about the Kyoto global warming protocol this morning.

MR DOWNER: Well what he said on Ray Hadley’s program this morning was that the first thing that Labor would do on coming into government is ratify the Kyoto Protocol so it could attend the Bali Meeting on climate change in December. Now, telling people that is just being completely deceitful because the fact is of course Australia, regardless of what happens in the election, will be attending the Bali Meeting. This is a United Nations Framework Convention meeting on climate change and Australia will be a full participant in that meeting. The point I make is that look, it’s all very well to set out different policies and so on but you’ve got to be able to defend them honestly and to pretend something like this on Mr Rudd’s part, it’s like him pretending he could take President Ahmadinejad of Iran to jail. I mean, please, people do deserve to be treated with a bit more respect than that.

PRESENTER: Look I admire you for trying on this one but isn’t it a bit rich for you to be starting to lecture the Opposition on climate change when for a considerable period of time of course, your Government’s denied that it existed or it ever did anything about it. I mean you’ve been dragged to the starting line on this one, haven’t you?

MR DOWNER: Well I think they, the Labor Party, has been running that line for a long time.

PRESENTER: Well that’s because it’s true.

MR DOWNER: It’s not. For example, we are building the world’s largest solar power station in Victoria. I wonder how many of your listeners would even know about that. In the last week, I’ve been in New York and Washington participating in major climate change meetings to put in place a new framework, not to sign Kyoto, but to put in place a framework which will succeed Kyoto. See Kyoto is the old model. We’ve finished with Kyoto, what we

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do next is what matters and I have personally been - and other Ministers - very heavily involved in trying to create this framework. By the way, we will have met our Kyoto targets as well, so we’ll be one of very few countries in the world that’s even bothered to do that. [Ends]

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MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS HON ALEXANDER DOWNER, MP

TRANSCRIPTION: PROOF COPY E & OE

DATE: Friday, 5 October 2007

TITLE: Interview - 2GB with Philip Clark - climate change, British troops in Iraq, Burma, Pacific Islands Forum, election date.

Interview continues …

PRESENTER: Alright, just on a few other things too, I note Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister has announced a stepped program to withdraw British troops from Iraq. Are there implications for our commitment there in the wake of that?

MR DOWNER: No, there aren’t any direct implications. I mean what the British are doing is moving more into the sort of role that we already have. Our role is essentially a training role, a mentoring role, an overwatch role, providing back up support for the Iraqis if they get into difficulties. Now the British in Basra, where they are in the very south of Iraq, they’ve been more involved in a direct combat role in Basra city. So they are withdrawing now from Basra city on the grounds that they do feel confident the Iraqi forces can manage that. They have re-established in and around Basra airport, performing much more the sort of role that I’ve said we’re performing and bearing that in mind, they don’t need as many troops as they used to need.

PRESENTER: What’s the latest in Burma by the way? Everyone seems to be sitting around wringing their hands and saying there’s nothing much we can do - sanctions won’t work and no one wants to, no one is seriously thinking about any kind of military action and I think that’s fair enough. Is there nothing we can do?

MR DOWNER: Well we’ve got the diplomacy of Mr Gambari, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General. Now he’s just been in Burma, he met with Than Shwe who’s the Chairman of the Military Commission there. He also met with Aung San Suu Kyi, the Democracy Leader. He is now back or he’ll be nearly back in New York. He’s going to give a report to the Secretary General in the Security Council. I think we just have to wait to see what he says in his report. To be honest with you, I’m not very optimistic that his diplomacy is going to lead to some sort of a breakthrough but there is word that the military leadership has said well they would be prepared to get into negotiation with Aung San Suu Kyi but as long as those negotiations were on a credible basis that would be a step forward. But I think we just have to await his report.

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PRESENTER: Yeah, alright, now look, I think its in a week or so, in Tonga, the Pacific Islands Forum is on - something that either you or in fact in the past the Prime Minister’s often gone too - so are either you or the Prime Minister going?

MR DOWNER: Yes, well one of us will certainly go. The expectation is that he will go. Obviously he has to take into consideration his own domestic program.

PRESENTER: Well he doesn’t talk to too many people, Mr Downer, and you are one of the ones he does talk to.

MR DOWNER: Well…

PRESENTER: So what’s he been saying?

MR DOWNER: You would never expect me to pass on the details.

PRESENTER: Well it’s only you and I - it’s only the two of us. It’s Friday afternoon. I’ll get you another schooner while you have a think about it. Ok, I’m back, I know the barman. What did he say?

MR DOWNER: The plan obviously is for the Prime Minister to go to the Forum. It’s only for a couple of day at the end of next week and this will really focus on how we’re going in the Solomon Islands, how Tonga itself has been doing and how are we going to respond to the Fiji coup so it is going to be a reasonably difficult meeting with a lot on the agenda.

PRESENTER: Which the Prime Minister may attend?

MR DOWNER: Sure. The plan is for the Prime Minister to attend it, let me assure you. We don’t have to have an election…

PRESENTER: By the way, are you…

MR DOWNER: …until the end of the year.

PRESENTER: The end of the year?

MR DOWNER: Well, you can’t obviously have it on Christmas - I think Christmas Day (inaudible) this year - that perhaps would be the surprise of the year to have it on Christmas Day. I think that would guarantee a very solid defeat. But it has to be before Christmas realistically obviously but it’ll be sometime before Christmas. So it’s October the 5th today so there is a way to go.

PRESENTER: It’s getting to be a very tedious line - this ‘sometime before Christmas’ because we know that but there isn’t much time left before Christmas.

MR DOWNER: Well it’s October 5th today.

PRESENTER: Yes.

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MR DOWNER: Christmas is - I don’t have to tell anybody when Christmas is - so it’s not going to be on Christmas Day, is it?

PRESENTER: I suppose we can keep going back and forth stating the bleeding obvious here, couldn’t we?

MR DOWNER: Well exactly. I mean, you know the Labor Party, of course they are the Opposition, they want the election as quickly as possible but we think the Constitution provides for the term of the Parliament and it should serve its term.

PRESENTER: Yes. Is Parliament coming back?

MR DOWNER: Well the expectation is that Parliament will come back in, I think…

PRESENTER: What, the week after next?

MR DOWNER: Yes, the week after next - I think it is the 15th October - the Monday, 14th, 15th October - that’s the expectation. That will of course be after the Pacific Islands Forum that we were talking about in Tonga. So that’s the plan at the moment.

PRESENTER: Ok, alright good to talk with you Mr Downer.

MR DOWNER: It’s a pleasure to speak to you.

[Ends]