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Howard: 'I Understand How Crean Feels'

November 28, 2003

This is the transcript of a doorstop interview given by the Prime Minister, John Howard, following Simon Crean's announcement of his resignation from the ALP leadership. Like Crean, Howard was dumped as Opposition Leader in 1989, regaining the position in 1995.


JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, your reaction to the news that Mr Crean is standing down?

PRIME MINISTER:

These issues are always difficult on a personal basis and I can understand that he will be feeling a certain amount of personal hurt, and it's very human and very understandable. I bear him no animosity and I wish he and his wife and family well for the future. It won't be easy for them. I understand that and I do wish him well on a personal basis.

JOURNALIST:

As an adversary, how did you rate Mr Crean?

PRIME MINISTER:

Mr Crean remains a very dedicated Labor man. He fought hard for what he believed in. We obviously had our major disagreements, but that's the situation. I don't bear him any personal ill will, I never have. And I do understand how he feels.

JOURNALIST:

Is it a reminder of just how brutal the business of politics can be?

PRIME MINISTER:

Politics is tough on occasions, but we all understand that. Anybody who has spent a lifetime fighting for a political cause - as I have, as Mr Crean has - you accept and must accept that it will go up and down. But I wish him well.

JOURNALIST:

Do you allow yourself at all any sense of self-satisfaction?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, none whatsoever. The next election, whoever leads the Labor Party, is going to be very tough for the Government to win. It will be our fourth election and there is only eight seats between us and political oblivion, and that was the case yesterday and it will be the case tomorrow and it will be the case in a month's time, irrespective of who gets chosen as the next leader of the Australian Labor Party.

JOURNALIST:

I know you're not in the business of giving the Australian Labor Party tips, but who is the tougher adversary - Kim Beazley, Mark Latham…

PRIME MINISTER:

I don't have any comment to make on the choice. That is gratuitous and self-serving and I don't have anything to say, and it's a matter for the Labor Party and it remains the case that whoever emerges will be leading an opposition that will be very competitive against us at the next election.

JOURNALIST:

Thank you sir.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you.

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