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Mount Stromlo, Canberra: transcript of doorstop interview: Canberra bushfires.



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PRIME MINISTER

21 January 2003

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP DOORSTOP INTERVIEW, MOUNT STROMLO, CANBERRA

Subjects: Canberra bushfires

E&OE…………………………………………………………………………………………...

JOURNALIST:

What’s the latest update you’ve had on the situation in the north-east of the city, what’s your concerns?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well my information is similar to the information that’s available to the public and that is that people should be alert and careful and prepared. But things have not turned for the worse and we hope they don’t but the danger still exists, I can’t really add to the warnings that have been given to the public, everybody’s entitled to have the same information at a time like this because our responsibility, or the Government’s responsibility, is to make sure that people are properly warned so they can take whatever precautions they’re able to.

JOURNALIST:

Is the Government able to offer any assistance to the staff here at the observatory to help them rebuild or what kind of support can the Government lend?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well the first thing that has to be established is the insurance arrangements and the liabilities and the entitlements under that. That is occurring at the present time, I can’t comment on that, it’s a matter between the university and the insurance company. Let me put it this way, this is a very valuable national asset and we are following the situation very closely and there’s a lot of contact between the university and Dr Nelson’s office. It’s quite a heartbreaking sight, there’s a lot of scientific history and also a lot of national history tied up in Mt Stromlo and it’s one of those national icons and assets that you particularly associate with Canberra and it really is quite heartbreaking what’s happened to it.

JOURNALIST:

www.pm.gov.au

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We’ve heard you repeat those words sorry hundreds of times over the last couple of days, emotionally how has this experience affected you?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh I am very affected, all Australians are affected because you’ve seen this concentrated loss of property, the sudden interruption and disturbance of people’s lives, a number of deaths, remarkable heroism people by people, firefighters and the police that prevented more deaths and more destruction. It continues to amaze me that people weren’t consumed and more property wasn’t damaged.

JOURNALIST:

Some of the victims are trying to move on now, this bushfire appeal’s been launched, would you really like to see Australians dig deep…

PRIME MINISTER:

I would hope they do, the Commonwealth Government will contribute half a million dollars to the appeal and I would encourage residents of Canberra in particular, but Australians generally, to support the appeal.

JOURNALIST:

Certainly on bushfire appeal, Sydney’s had numerous ones in the last couple of years and people from all over Australia have donated…

PRIME MINISTER:

I would encourage people from everywhere to support it.

Thank you.

[ends]