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Transcript of doorstop interview: Sydney: 7 April 2008: Listening tour; Peter Costello; Alexander Downer; Republic; Olympics; computers in schools program.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. DR BRENDAN NELSON MP

7 April 2008

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. DR BRENDAN NELSON MP, DOORSTOP INTERVIEW, SYDNEY

Subjects: Listening Tour; Peter Costello; Alexander Downer; Republic; Olympics; computers in schools program.

EO&E………………………………………………………………………………......

DR NELSON:

Well firstly it’s an honour to be able to include in my listening tour the Sunshine Home Mail Centre here with Mr Ruddock and I have officially opened. I think very Australian, every day we need to count our blessings and make sure we live in a country where men and women, who in this case have an intellectual disability, are supported in every way possible, along with their carers and those who support them to fully engage in the community. And I say to any business in Australia that’s looking for great, reliable on time delivery at the price you pay in mailing, go no further than the Sunshine Homes here.

QUESTION:

First of the comments you were making about Alexander Downer and Peter Costello this morning, can you just clarify exactly what you were saying in terms of why you still want them to be in you Opposition?

DR NELSON:

Mr Downer and Mr Costello have made an enormous contribution to Australia, to Australia foreign and economic policies and indeed to their own electorates. The decisions that they or any other Member of Parliament might make obviously will be informed by discussions with their family and in the best interests of their constituents. Personally I’d be very happy if both of those Members of Parliament

stayed but that’s a matter for them and their families and in the meantime I know they’re working hard to represent their electorates.

QUESTION:

Given that they have expressed some reservations about continuing on in the past is that a concern to you that you might have a couple of people in your Opposition party who aren’t all that enthusiastic about staying on?

DR NELSON:

I’m not going to add to any speculation about what any Member of Parliament might choose to do. Those of us who were privileged to be elected in November last year have got on with the job of representing our constituents and, as has every member of our team.

QUESTION:

You’ve spoken a lot about their role in the past. What are their roles in the future? If they stay with the party?

DR NELSON:

I’m not going to add to any speculation about what Mr Downer, Mr Costello or any other Member of Parliament might choose to do. But I will again say that these are two men in particular who have worked extraordinarily hard for their electorates and for Australia. We are a much more confident, prosperous country, more confident in our place in the world as a result of what Mr Downer and Mr Costello have done. They are both working hard for their constituents and I think that any further speculation about it is something people ought to just give away.

QUESTION:

The Prime Minister says he supports a republic but it’s not a top priority. Seeing he’s meeting the Queen, where do you stand on the republic?

DR NELSON:

I think the constitutional arrangements that we have in Australia, as a constitutional monarchy have brought us an unprecedented level of political and economic stability. I very much support the current arrangements but Australia is a democracy, there are many Australians, many members of the Liberal Party that would like to see Australia be a republic, but the one thing upon which I do agree with Mr Rudd is that it’s not a top order priority. The real priorities at the moment are petrol, groceries and home loan interest rates and making sure small business can survive in a climate which has become increasingly difficult since the change of government last year.

QUESTION:

So a referendum or the issue at least being flashed out again isn’t something you want to see?

DR NELSON:

It’s certainly not something that I’m pushing and I think it’s something that Mr Rudd shouldn’t be pushing. We’ve had just over four and a half months of bread and circuses since there was a change of government last year and I think that Mr Rudd would be well advised to stay away from pushing a republic. Australians have got fundamental concerns, whether it’s drought, whether it’s feeding, clothing and housing your children, keeping your small business going, and making sure that the Government is actually focused on the development of the Budget which is probably the most important we’ve had in recent history. And at a time when Australians are battling - families especially - with their groceries and costs of petrol and home loan interest rates going up, I think that Mr Rudd should be in fact more focused on the development and crafting of the Budget. We’ve got a very bullish Reserve Bank of Australia which has increased interest rates which is causing enormous hardship throughout the community. We’ve got a Treasurer who’s got L-plates on and a touch of the wobbles, and a Prime Minister who seems to be more preoccupied with what happens in the Chinese economy that what happens here at home.

QUESTION:

Should Mr Rudd go to the Olympics?

DR NELSON:

I think that the men and women who have spent their lives training as sportsmen to be the very, very best they can in their field of endeavour, I think they would expect their Prime Minster to actually go to the Olympics and see them participate and perform proudly on behalf of Australia. So if Mr Rudd’s diary is free then I think he should make the commitment to go.

QUESTION:

[inaudible]

DR NELSON:

Just again to reinforce the computers in schools. I think Mr Rudd is perpetrating a computer con on Australian families. He said that all of our senior secondary students would have a computer. Now apparently it is access to a computer. And it looks like families are actually going to have to pay a computer tax to see that Mr Rudd delivers

on the promises that he actually made. A computer, as Mr Rudd said last year, is the toolbox for the 21st century. Well he needs to actually put some tools in it and make sure it’s plugged in, maintained and teachers are trained to teach our kids how to use them.

RUDDOCK

You don’t mind me adding something to that. While I’ve been seeing some of my own schools, and I went to open a project the other day that was funded under the Investing in Our Schools program, an initiative of the former government. In discussions with members of staff, the parent community, the real issue that emerges is that the infrastructure if you’re going to have computers is very significant. In some of our schools you’ve actually got to re-do the circuitry of the school before you can actually start to install equipment of that sort. And no funding of that sort is being provided. The one program that has been giving the schools, and Waitara School that’s quite close to here and was in my electorate and now in Brendan’s electorate, was one where they had to spend the money - Investing in Our Schools program - in actually rewiring the school in order that it could actually run equipment necessary for the students safely.

DR NELSON:

It’s very important that the computers in schools program be fully funded and appropriately funded. Mr Rudd and Mr Swan seem to have a lot of trouble getting their numbers right. Mr Rudd has mixed up a few things on his overseas trip. I certainly hope he doesn’t muck up our Budget.

Thanks.

[ends]