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Parliament House, Canberra, 30 June 1998: transcript of doorstop interview [Wik; Newspoll]



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

 

TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP, PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA, 30 JUNE 1998

 

E&OE-PROOF ONLY

 

Subjects:  Wik, Newspoll

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Has Senator Harradine sold out the Aboriginal community?

 

BEAZLEY:

 

Look, from what I can hear around the traps, the deal that Senator Harradine is offering to Mr Howard is much the same as was around in previous discussions. And the essential problem with it is the lack of goodwill. Whatever emerges from this must be acceptable, or livable with, by all the parties. And there wilI be enough legal problems associated with whatever is arrived at, really substantial legal problems. If there is no goodwill, then the legal challenges will just roll through, and we’ll have no settlement, and we face years and years of trouble and worry over pastoral leases, over mining leases, over claims for what should be done or not done on crown land, and what does crown land mean. We’ve got to end all this. And I’m afraid the solution that John Howard has arrived at, as he scuffles away from the fact that absolutely nobody in this country supports the 10-point plan, is going to lead us, in the medium term, into a legal mess.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

…sort of detail...?

 

BEAZLEY:

 

Look, I know nothing in any formal sense of what is transpiring between the Government and Senator Harradine. They play their cards close to their chests. Senator Harradine is an horourable dealer when he’s dealing directly with someone. He wouldn’t pass it on to anyone else. But from what you pick up around the edges, what’s going on here is essentially the same thing that he had on offer before to the Government, which the Government then rejected as irrelevant and not the road they were going to go when the Government thought that somebody supported them on the 10-point plan. The Government have come to understand that nobody supports the 10-point plan - nobody at all. And this has created a major political problem for Howard as he finds himself with yet another Howard mess on his hands. But the problem is this: a solution that is being worked through is not being based on the goodwill of all the parties. And unless it’s based on the goodwill of all the parties, all that will happen is endless legal challenge, and we’ll be back here again in another year or two discussing exactly the same issues. We’ll have on our hands a mess. Instead of an opportunity to break-out, an opportunity to get this matter concluded, all we have is an ongoing saga, and an ongoing saga that we don’t need economically or in terms of community relations.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Will a deal lead to more tension within the Coalition?

 

BEAZLEY:

 

I don’t know whether it will lead to more tension but the Coalition knows this: they’ve made an awful mess of native title. They’ve sought to exploit it politically, but it’s turned around and bitten them. And they now find themselves with no one in the bush with any confidence in them at all. They either agree with us in what is achievable, that is a negotiated outcome which all sides can live with, or they agree with the one point plan of Pauline Hanson’s Party that everybody knows is unconstitutional, would divide this nation, and would do us, economically, infinite damage.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Would a deal hand One Nation its first...?

 

BEAZLEY:

 

A deal on this?

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Yes.

 

BEAZLEY:

 

I wouldn’t put it that way at all. I think what this deal would represent, if it is there, is the fact that Mr Howard has finally realised that his 10-point plan isn’t viable.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

You must be relieved, though, to be avoiding a double dissolution election, if that is what is going to happen?

 

BEAZLEY:

 

Look, I’m about solutions. My view is that there shouldn’t have been a double dissolution election on this anyway. And I don’t know whether it’s avoided or not. We’ll have to wait and see. I’m not interested in double dissolution elections as far as native title is concerned, or half Senate elections as far as native title is concerned. I’m interested in an outcome. An outcome that works. And what we’re getting here is an outcome that doesn’t work. And that is sad news for this country. And it worries me.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Considering the latest Newspoll, Mr Beazley, will you be Prime Minister this time next year?

 

BEAZLEY:

 

I don’t know whether I will or I won’t. But what I can say is this: what Australian people crave is a bit of security, a bit of Government concern for their security. What they also crave is a bit of competence. What we’ve got from this Government is one mess after another. The native title mess. The waterfront mess. The employment agency mess. The nursing homes mess. The tax concealment. One mess after another. The Australian people are dead set sick of it.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

So, the poll result is no surprise?

 

BEAZLEY:

 

You know what my views of polls are. They’re a snapshot in time. The only poll that matters is the final poll. The one thing that polls will indicate from time to time is a level of concern out there. And the level of concern out there is with the Government mess. One mess after another - nursing homes, native title, waterfront. One mess after another.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

When you say you’re not sure that a double dissolution election wouldn’t be held if this goes through, on what grounds would that option....?

 

BEAZLEY:

 

Well, you know technically they’ve got another couple of triggers as far as double dissolutions are concerned. I mean, it’s not what interests me. I mean, we never entered into discussion about the native title issue with the slightest interest of an election in mind. That is irrelevant. What is important is the solution. And it’s about darn time that John Howard stopped playing politics. He’s done nothing but play politics since he became Prime Minister of this country. And what the Australian people want is leaders who speak for all of them, who lead for all of them, and don’t play politics with them.

 

Ends

 

 

 

 

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