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Port Stephens: partial transcript of media conference, 12 February 2001: West Australian election result, Woodside.

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Kim Beazley - Media Conference Subjects: West Australian Election Result, Woodside

Partial Transcript - Port Stephens - 12 February 2001

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JOURNALIST: …One Nation … the West Australian election result…

BEAZLEY: Peter Beattie is always right in his analysis of affairs in Queensland and everywhere else. … Peter Beattie has got one particular view, but the fellows who are really hyperventilating on this this morning are John Anderson and John Howard. Let me offer them some words of comfort. There was an above average third party vote in Western Australia, indeed above the third party vote that was there in last Federal election in Western Australia, and One Nation's share of the third party vote went down dramatically in WA in this poll - 25 per cent cast votes for third parties in WA. The share of One Nation of that 25 per cent was 9. That is the first point I would make. I have now had a chance to look at all of the seats. With the possibilities of one or two elections, the combined Green, Democrat and Green Independent vote was usually two to one that of the One Nation vote, or at least 50 per cent higher. And in many of the seats we won, the actual Green vote was higher than the One Nation vote without anything added to it. I think it is time now for people to sit down and do a bit of calm analysis about what all of that meant. If you want to know what was the side issue, if you like, to the Labor Party victory, the side issue in terms of those which don't necessarily show up on the national scheme of things like health, like education, like petrol prices, it was native forests in Western Australia. And the principled position that was taken by Geoff Gallop on the native forests issue in Western Australia which got him a belting around the ears from one or two in the union movement was responded to either directly in a Labor vote or indirectly in preferences from Greens and Green Independents. Even in one of our rural seats, the seat of Bunbury, where it has to be said One Nation vote in rural areas is very high, Brendan Kelly, a Green Independent, got 1,020, Ian Palmer, a Green candidate got 630 and a One Nation vote was 1099. So, even in One Nation heartland they were effectively outpolled in that particular seat by the Green Independents and the Greens. They were probably decisive in the end in only one or two seats, of all of those the Labor Party picked up. On the other hand in the pocket-boroughs in the West Australian gerrymander the One Nation vote was large. It was irrelevant but large. Irrelevant because the Labor Party in those seats ensured the Liberal Party or the National Party member was returned. And in terms of federal votes, and this is certainly something for us to think about, in terms of federal votes, those votes for One Nation occurred in the safe Liberal seat of O'Connor, the one safe Liberal seat of Forrest and the one safe Liberal seat of Pearce. And we, of course, will look quite hard at them and at more. But in the seats that the Labor Party holds the story I have just read out was the story which applies.

JOURNALIST: …(inaudible)…

BEAZLEY: I am trying to correct this. I would think if I happened to be heading up the West Australian Greens at the moment I would be considering some sort of action for misleading reporting, by the Press Council, on the handling of this issue, because what has been a notable victory for them is being

underplayed. Now how this translates into Upper House seats is problematic, for some people are telling me One Nation will get three. If they do, it will be in the gerrymandered Upper House seats. The Greens will get four, and they will be winning seats in the un-gerrymandered portion.

JOURNALIST: …(inaudible)…

Tape break.

JOURNALIST: …Woodside sell-off to Shell…

BEAZLEY: It is before the FIRB, thus far the Commonwealth has not acted…on a strategic matter on energy questions. …on newspapers and media generally and it does so in a number of other areas that are critical to the Australian national interest. I am concerned about the proposed Shell takeover of Woodside. I am not anti-foreign investment. Foreign investment employs a large number of Australians. But I am concerned about the possibility that our major strategic asset will have its development, a piece of its development, determined by a company that is not Australian. I am not going to be xenophobic about this but I am going to be concerned about it. Needless to say we are talking to the people who are involved.

JOURNALIST: …(inaudible)…

BEAZLEY: I would hope that FIRB would firmly bear that in mind as they take a look at this… I would hope that FIRB given the dramatic nature of this, the very substantial nature of this, FIRB might look carefully as it makes its judgements about what is being offered by Shell and what is the likely consequence on a Shell takeover in …or conditions or basic approval that they give to it.

JOURNALIST: …(inaudible)…

BEAZLEY: I would prefer to look at this directly. This is an unusual thing which has occurred with substantial strategic consequences. And rather than go to the general… I would rather concentrate on the … I would hope, and I wait to see, what determination they make. I would hope that FIRB would see the overwhelming potential of this particular exercise to constrain future Australian governments in a major area with national security implications and see what they come up with. But there is a lot of water to flow under the bridge or down the pipe-line on this one. I have been lobbied by both sides on this one and it's not over yet.

JOURNALIST: …(inaudible)…

BEAZLEY: I think the people of Paterson are like the people of Western Australia and people in regional Australia, in particular. What they are crying out for is a government that will listen, that will not be out of touch. That will respond to what they need. I am well aware that in the votes for the Greens and Independents and One Nation and Democrats reside an awful lot of people who are saying the economy, public policy is not working for me. These are the people I have been talking to and about for the past five years, and that is what this bus trip is about. Don't forget that in Western Australia in an environment in which there was a surge to third party, that Geoff Gallop's Labor Party actually picked up primary votes. And they demonstrated themselves, very effectively, to be listeners. That is what I want to be too.


Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.