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Transcript of doorstop interview of the Minister for Foreign Affairs: Melbourne: 1 October 2004: [TPV holders].



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Inquiries: (02) 6277 7500 1

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS HON ALEXANDER DOWNER, MP

TRANSCRIPTION: E & OE

DATE: October 1 2004

TOPICS: Doorstop, Melbourne

REPORTER : I’d like to ask you about the … your policy in terms of the TPV holders. As we can see downstairs, there is a demonstration asking for rights for the TPV holders and they’re saying that the… this kind of visa is a kind of abuse of hu… of their human rights. What do you say about that?

DOWNER : Well, they’re obviously able to stay in Australia for the life of their visas and their situation is reviewed on an ongoing basis and there’s due process. And I think that’s being handled well.

REPORTER Can I ask you about the security breaches, Mr Downer? You were manhandled in there; were you … did you feel you were under threat at any stage?

DOWNER : I’m six foot one and pretty strong and I’m very fit and look, here are people from a kind of feral left of politics who interrupt a speech at the very moment when I’m talking about the most horrific human rights abuses that took place during the time of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Iraqis this morning have spoken very emotionally about the abuse they lived under during Saddam Hussein’s time. These people - these demonstrators today never demonstrated against Saddam Hussein’s regime; they never expressed any concern about the brutality and the torture of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Their politicking is condemned for their failure to understand that we’ve got rid of the most egregious human rights abuser in modern times.

REPORTER : Did they get a hand on you?

DOWNER : I think they grabbed my shoulder but, you know, look, it doesn’t matter. It’s a demonstration by, you know, the feral left who don’t care about the human rights abuses that took place in Iraq. And there are some people here today who suffered personally from those human rights abuses.

REPORTER : You’re not concerned about breach of security, that they got so close to you before the security guards managed to …

DOWNER : Ah, security guards do the job, not a problem.

Inquiries: (02) 6277 7500 2

REPORTER : You’re happy with security?

DOWNER : Very happy with the security.

REPORTER : In this day, I mean, considering what’s happening at the moment, isn’t it a concern when someone gets that close to a senior minister of the government?

DOWNER : No, that doesn’t concern me. What concerns me is the moral foundation of their argument, that they don’t understand the hundreds of thousands of people who were murdered by Saddam Hussein and ne ver demonstrated against that. But when we freed the Iraqi people they choose to demonstrate. It just shows a complete lack of perspective and moral priorities.

REPORTER : You don’t want them arrested? They’ve been set free; you …

DOWNER : No …

REPOR TER : … don’t think they should …

DOWNER : … (indistinct) police, nothing to do with me.

REPORTER : You don’t think that they should be arrested though? I mean, they’ve manhandled a minister of the Crown.

DOWNER : I think they are morally bankrupt thinking that it doesn’t matter that Saddam Hussein had slaughtered and tortured so many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, but they … and said nothing. They said nothing. But when it comes to us freeing the people of Iraq - and we have a deputy minister from Iraq here today - they think they should demonstrate against that. They have a lack of moral … they don’t have a moral compass, these people.

REPORTER : We spoke to you about justification for the war on Iraq; lots of people in the Arabic community in Aus tralia and in the general community as well, see that as participation of Australia as an aggression against Muslim and Arabic people and lots of them are going to cast their vote against your party on this basis. What do you say about that?

DOWNER : Well, nobody could pa … cast a vote in Iraq. There were no elections in Iraq under …

REPORTER : (Indistinct) …

DOWNER : … there are no … there were no elections in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s time and in this country you can cast a vote whichever way you want. And in Iraq, in January, people will be able to vote as well. I think that’s a wonderful thing.

REPORTER : Mr Downer, things are so tough in Iraq, why would you not consider extending residency to more people here in Australia?

DOWNER : Well, tha t’s a matter that will be looked at by the Immigration Department on an ongoing basis. Okay. Not the (Inaudible) Minister though. ENDS………October 1 2004