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Opposition Leader discusses WA election; and Regional Partnership Program.



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FEDERAL LABOR LEADER KIM BEAZLEY

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH CLARE VALLEY ABC RADIO, ALBANY 22ND FEBRUARY 2005

E & O E - PROOF ONLY

Subjects: WA ELECTION; REGIONAL PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM;

VALLEY: The Federal Opposition Leader and Member for Brand, Kim Beazley, is in Albany today and you might know it he arrived just as a fine drizzle kicked in here on the coast yesterday. We’re now just four days out from the election and so this is probably a business visit rather than pleasure, Kim Beazley, good morning.

BEAZLEY: Well Albany is the best place to be whether its winter or summer, so who cares about drizzle.

VALLEY: That’s a very good answer Mr Beazley and it must have been quite a while since you’ve been here in Albany?

BEAZLEY: The last time I think I was here from recollection was an Anzac Day Service and Anzac Day is a special place here. I holiday regularly in either Albany or Denmark so I’m not unfamiliar with the region.

VALLEY: Obviously we’re just four days out from the election, what do you think you can do to get Labor over the line in Albany?

BEAZLEY: Firstly the greatest asset we’ve got is of course Peter Watson, a terrific local member. He’s really put Albany on the map as far as the State Parliament is concerned because previously this was a bit of a Liberal pocket. Nothing much happened as far as State Government was concerned now all sorts of investments have been put in place by the State Government here

courtesy of Peter, so, that’s one element of it. The second I think is the election outside the personal factors involved in candidates is beginning to revolve around this simple equation. You’ve got a solid achieving Premier in Geoff Gallop and a risky proposition in Colin Barnett. Now I know as an Opposition Leader it’s very easy to appear risky and you actually have to deal with that problem. Colin just seems to want to exacerbate the level of riskiness around him rather than resolving it and as the last five per cent make up their mind, that’ll be important.

VALLEY: How much harder would it make it for federal Labor if Colin Barnett is the winner on Saturday night?

BEAZLEY: It’s not really related. It’s a long way from a federal election and state issues are massively predominant, I can’t think of any simple issues in reality in this campaign. Geoff’s one of my best friends and I would hate to see him lose, the effect it would have on me personally would be one of considerable

sorrow.

VALLEY: Are you talking down the problems that there would be if Colin Barnett were to win on Saturday because you’re not feeling terribly confident?

BEAZLEY: If Colin Barnett were to win on Saturday this prosperous state would go backwards. And that would be a tragedy for all of us born and bred west Australians and those of us who shifted here.

VALLEY: Talking about federal issues in this campaign, health just runs and runs, what are your thoughts on the management of health services into the future?

BEAZLEY: Geoff Gallop and his government have really focused on health, getting down the waiting lists, getting investments into public hospitals. But like all the state governments these days they largely do it on their own because the federal Government will certainly make a contribution but it disclaims responsibility. And from a federal point of view the biggest problem that we’ve got at the moment is the fact that there’s a dual funding system which means that a lot of people fall between the cracks, a lot of money is wasted and a lot of pressure comes on the state governments. State governments struggle hard to get the hospitals right and the federal Government, through things like not providing enough nursing home beds so the frail aged are there in emergency wards, federal Government is not pulling its weight.

VALLEY: Are you in favour of the separation of powers, if you like. Would you take over health completely?

BEAZLEY: I’m in favour of collaboration. We always put these either or situations up. The states have all got to have responsibility or the federals have got to have responsibility. We’ve got a constitution which assumes collaboration and nobody seems to me to want to change that constitution all that much. So, why don’t the politicians just do what the constitution says they should do and instead of blame shifting as they do to each other - collaborate.

VALLEY: The other federal issue that’s cropped over the last week or so is the end to the Regional Partnerships program you’ve called for the end to the Regional Partnerships program. It’s funded countless projects in this part of the

world, what would you rather do with that kind of money? I guess the concern is that it would just evaporate into a big pot.

BEAZLEY: It evaporates now, that’s what I’m concerned about. This is a slush fund electorally they’ve been good projects funded by it but it’s been a political slush fund. If you look at what the OECD and the Reserve Bank have had to say about our principle problem is that one or one element of principle economic problem is there’s no national strategy for infrastructure. No national strategy building the roads we need, doing the ports we need, these issues are now becoming a problem in the Australian economy. So, instead of slush funds we need proper planning at arms length from the politicians. The politicians play games with that Regional Partnership money, the regions do need money, they need money for infrastructure, big time, but they need it out of the hands of politicians and into the hands of people who are making dispassionate judgments about the economic needs of the place. The money won’t disappear from the regions, where it will disappear from, is the back pockets of the Government candidate, any government’s candidates. It does you no good to have politics dominated by huge slush funds.

VALLEY: Mr Beazley, just listening to you today, it just sounds like we’re almost going back in time a little bit. I read in one of the Canberra columns last week that having you back on the front bench was stepping back into a comfy old pair of Ugh boots. How does it feel to you?

BEAZLEY: It doesn’t feel all that comfortable I’ve got to tell you. It actually feels a bit different. I guess I’m a wiser man for the experience of three years on the back bench probably a harder man in some and certainly anxious to sharpen to differences between ourselves and our political opponents. And that’s actually been happening over the course of the last few weeks, I’m grateful to be back and it does feel a little bit different.

VALLEY: Kim Beazley, Federal Leader of the Opposition, good to have you in Albany,

BEAZLEY: It’s always nice to be here.

ENDS: