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Transcript of doorstop: 9 March 2003: Sydney: NSW campaign; Medicare; Iraqi Ambassador; death penalty.

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Subjects: NSW Campaign; Medicare; Iraqi Ambassador; Death penalty

JOURNALIST: What did you think of Bob Carr’s speech?

CREAN: It’s not just a commitment to New South Wales, it’s leadership for the nation in those crucial areas of medical research and cancer treatment and disease eradication. I think it was a very statesmanlike performance and true leadership.

JOURNALIST: But to Federal issues, though, they didn’t bring any Federal issues into the speech?

CREAN: Well, predominantly it’s a campaign that’s been fought on State issues, as State elections always are. I think what was interesting last week, of course, though was that in the Parliament an issue that is of importance to this State was broken open - the pensioning off of Medicare - and that’s something that does need to be campaigned around, and not just here but all around the country.

JOURNALIST: Has Bob Carr asked you to help with the campaign at all?

CREAN: Yes, he has.

JOURNALIST: In what way?

CREAN: He’s asked me to be involved in campaigning, and I’ll be up here again next week.

JOURNALIST: With the Premier, or separately?

CREAN: No, it’ll be separately. He’s doing the country launch. This is the only week that Parliament is not sitting but, as I said, last week in the Parliament the Federal Government’s plans in relation to Medicare were well



and truly exposed. The Federal Government has a view about the health crisis - that you boycott meetings rather than turn up to them to solve them. And we all know that if we are going to fix healthcare in this country, it’s got to be a cooperative effort between Federal and State Governments.

JOURNALIST: Simon, can I just ask you, have you been briefed at all about the Iraqi Ambassador situation?

CREAN: No, I haven’t, and I find that very disturbing. No advance warning was given to us, and no subsequent briefing has been made available to us. I find that very odd, indeed. If we are to deal with issues of national security, it does require a bipartisanship.

The other thing that I find the strangest of the lot is that if this person is such a great threat to our security, why are they letting him stay until Wednesday? I mean, if it’s such a serious threat, they should be sending him away


JOURNALIST: Also, could Bob Carr ever become a Federal Labor Leader?

CREAN: Bob Carr will be a fantastic State Premier. He’s demonstrated in his speech today why he wants to lead for the next term. He’s got an agenda, he’s securing New South Wales’ future, and he’s laying the base, the direction beyond that.

JOURNALIST: Just one more quick question. Can I ask what you think about Mr Howard’s policy about supporting the death sentence for [Osama]?

CREAN: Well, it’s very weird. I mean, we don’t support the death penalty in Australia. It’s true that if he’s tried under US law, which he may be, the death penalty provides. But so far as I’m concerned, we’ve got to bring the terrorists to justice and, whilst I don’t support the death penalty, I’d throw him in the cell and toss away the key and let him rot.

JOURNALIST: Do you think the Prime Minister adjusts his statements when he’s talking to the particular audiences that he does? When he’s talking to American television, he talking about executions; when it’s Australia, it’s about debate.

CREAN: I think the Prime Minister has found himself in a very difficult position. He’s committed himself to war, and he hasn’t told the Australian people the truth of that. He’s finding that the support for that war isn’t there within the United Nations. And he runs a serious risk to this country and its security if we go down the path of supporting a US-led attack on Iraq. What the Prime Minister must do is back away from that position, get behind the United Nations, and secure the peaceful disarmament of Iraq.