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Election 2004: Prime Minister visits Kalgoorlie on the campaign trail.

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Friday 17 September 2004

Election 2004: Prime Minister visits Kalgoorlie on the campaign trail


MARK COLVIN: The Prime Minister is flying back to Sydney tonight, clearly re invigorated in his campaign for a fourth term in government, after spending most of the week in Western Australia. 


Mr Howard says he feels like he's built "a solid Hayden - Langer partnership". For those of you who are not cricket tragics, that's a reference to Test opening batsmen Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer. 


In Kalgoorlie this afternoon Mr Howard announced a range of small spending promises in a bid to hold on to the marginal seat. 


Matt Brown was in Kalgoorlie with the Prime Minister & filed this report. 


MATT BROWN: John Howard has been buoyed, visibly, by a few days in the west. 


JOHN HOWARD: It's a free and easy state, it's a fantastic state. 


MATT BROWN: And, nearing the halfway point in the campaign, Mr Howard looks like he's settled in for a comfortable innings. 


JOHN HOWARD: If I can draw a cricket analogy, it's a bit like having sort of built a very solid Hayden-Langer partnership. I think we've made a good start, I mean you always have a few outswingers that you miss, but by and large I think we've had a pretty good start. 


REPORTER: Is that a good solid innings you're thinking of declaring any time? 


JOHN HOWARD: No mate, no, you just keep going 'til you've ground the others into the dust. 


MATT BROWN: To assure that victory, the Government's defending two marginal seats in Western Australia and trying to take a couple off the Labor Party in the hope of offsetting any losses in the east. 


JOHN HOWARD: Well I get a good mood here, but you've always got to be careful in election campaigns. I think we will hold the seat of Kalgoorlie, though it'll be tough, and I think we'll hold our other seats in Perth. Whether we can win more remains to be seen. 


They're always tough. 


MATT BROWN: At the prime power engineering workshop in Kalgoorlie today, owner Peter Alan was looking forward to the Prime Minister's arrival, and just as keen to wind up a reporter from Canberra. 


PETER ALAN: We have 26 employees, both mechanical and electrical, we mainly repair welders and generators in the gold fields and we employ five apprentices. 


MATT BROWN: And how have Howard Government policies affected your business? 


PETER ALAN: Jesus mate, that's a hard one. I don't know. 


MATT BROWN: When the man himself arrived, and it was time for a little small talk, it became clear that the message from the advanced party about this staged event had become a little muddled. 


JOHN HOWARD: You've got a couple of hundred employees here have you? 


PETER ALAN: No, no, we haven't got any, um, couple of hundred, just ah 25. 




PETER ALAN: Five apprentices… 


JOHN HOWARD: Five apprentices… 


BY-STANDER: Well that's a very high ratio, that's true. 


JOHN HOWARD: Yeah, very good. 


MATT BROWN: And there were apprentices on hand for the purposes of illustration. 


JOHN HOWARD: How long have you been in your apprenticeship? 


APPRENTICE 1: A year and a half. 


JOHN HOWARD: Do you come from Kalgoorlie or ah… 


APPRENTICE 1: No, Albany. 


JOHN HOWARD: Albany. That's a fair way. 




JOHN HOWARD: Well I'm announcing something later today that'll sort of make it a little bit easier. At the moment you get a living away allowance for the first two years of your apprenticeship… 




JOHN HOWARD: So we're going to extend it to the third year. 


APPRENTICE 1: Oh beauty. 


JOHN HOWARD: That promise would deliver $25 a week to third year apprentices living away from home, many in rural and regional Australia at a cost of $5 million over the next four years. 


But not every apprentice there today was from out of town. 


APPRENTICE 2: Oh I've only been working for six months as auto sparky, regy bloke, electrical… 


MATT BROWN: And you're from this area? 


APPRENTICE 2: Yep, yep. 


MATT BROWN: Good job? 


APPRENTICE 2: Yeah I s'pose, better than going to school. 


MATT BROWN: On the outskirts of Kalgoorlie on the edge of the Super Pit gold mine, tourists from across the country came to gaze down into the massive open cut operation that sinks deep into the earth and reflect a little on life and the future. 


VOX POP 1: Well we seem to live alright on our pension. We own our own home, and I think that if you own your own home then with your pension I think that you can do quite nicely. 


VOX POP 2 : Oh, well I'm not really much interested actually 'cause I don't vote at all. I wouldn't because they tell too many lies and we vote God's government to come very shortly. I just think it's just one big mess, you know, and that Jehovah God would make all this better, it'll be a paradise one day. 


MATT BROWN: Even this great big pit here? 


VOX POP 2: Yes, even this great big pit. 


VOX POP 3: Still undecided, but I've never voted Labor so I don't know where I'd go from there. 


MATT BROWN: There's an awful big hole in the ground here at the Kalgoorlie Super Pit. Is there a metaphor for federal politics you can think of when you look into that big chasm? 


VOX POP 3: I wish their hearts were as big. 


MARK COLVIN: Desperately seeking metaphors in the west, Matt Brown there.