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Archives for January 2005

Beazley Acknowledges Long Road Ahead

Kim Beazley has conceded he has “got a bit of work to do” to re-establish his leadership credentials and the fortunes of the ALP.

In his first major television interview since regaining the leadership last Friday, Beazley said he would aim to “sharpen the differences” with the government and to hold it accountable.

Beazley criticised the government over its relationship with the United States, arguing that Australia needed to be the ally America needed, not the ally it wanted.

The reborn Opposition Leader – Beazley held the position between 1996-2001 – appeared comfortable and confident. It has been announced that he will live in Sydney for much of the time, reducing the need for long and frequent travel from Western Australia. [Read more…]

Howard Talks Of Trade, Plays Down Chances In Werriwa

John Howard has played down the Liberal Party’s chances of winning the forthcoming Werriwa by-election.

Speaking in Davos at the World Economic Forum, the Prime Minister sought to lower expectations that footballer Paul Langmack can win the traditionally Labor seat. Werriwa, held by Gough Whitlam (1952-78), is vacant because of Mark Latham’s resignation last week.

Howard also spoke of a number of bilateral meetings he has conducted with a range of Asian and European leaders.

This is the transcript of the press conference held by the Prime Minister, John Howard, in Davos, Switzerland.


Well what happened today?


Well what happened today was I’ve had some bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister of Pakistan which was a very good meeting and also the Minister for Reunification from Korea and we talked about North Korea and also of course about possible further sales of LNG from Australia to Korea and there’s another decision, another big contract coming up and we have four or five competitors so we’re hopeful, but we can’t put it any more strongly than that at this stage. I thought the meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan was very valuable and we have agreed to endeavour to achieve a strengthening of that relationship, it has a lot of natural complimentarities but I think it could benefit from a bit of additional effort on both sides and we were both very much of that view.

I attended two of the sessions, one on the world economic outlook and also one on China’s economic outlook which is very important not only to the world but it’s particularly important to Australia. And at lunchtime I attended a session dealing with the issue of terrorism which was chaired by ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA and involved Senator McCain and the former Irish President Mary Robinson, the Secretary General of the Arab League, and the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, the Polish President, the Norwegian Prime Minister, and quite a wide range of people and it was a very interesting meeting, I did take the opportunity of stressing the significance of the transition to democracy that taking place, or has taken place in Indonesia and how very important it was for the long term fight against terrorism that the manifestation of moderate mainstream Islam was seen to be successful and how very important it was for the world to support Indonesia.


In what way could the world do that do you think?


Well I think there are different ways, I mean we’re obviously doing it in the wake of the tsunami tragedy but what the world can do about further investment in Indonesia, obviously there have to be changes in that country to provide appropriate levels of assurance in relation to investment. But I made the broad point that Indonesia being the largest Islamic country in the world that what happens there is crucial to the I guess view the world has of, and of the interaction between moderate Islam and Islamic fanaticism because if moderate mainstream Islam succeeds and democracy remains strong, as it appears to be in Indonesia, well that is a huge rebuff to the terrorists because the terrorists do not want a stable, successful Indonesia. I made the point at this meeting that a modern successful country in Indonesia is anathema to the terrorists’ objectives.


Was there much criticism about the United States in that debate? And also the discussion you attended for the BBC World seemed that there was a lot of so-called “Bush bashing” going on and you did step in to defend the United States, do you think that the US has come under attack here at this forum?


Well I think some of the criticism by some of the Europeans is unfair and irrational and I have said so.


Do you fear that that’s the way the world appears to be heading?


No, no that is not because that is the view in some parts of Europe, it’s not the view in Eastern Europe for example, you talk to somebody like the President of Latvia who took part in that meeting, you talk to the representative of Afghanistan, that is not their view, one of the other people who attended the session at lunchtime was of course the national security adviser from Iraq. Now sure, he’s part of an interim government, we’re having an election there on Sunday and it’s starting the process. I think what happens on Sunday in Iraq is very important and I hope there’s a good turn out, I don’t know what it’s likely to be, I don’t think anybody does, but I hope it’s a good turn out.


There was a session on terrorism earlier today and they were talking about the issue of Iraq and what’s happened there in relation to the wider war on terror and one of the guys from the Rand Corporation was arguing that in fact the US presence there has almost made the situation worse because it’s created a whole new group of insurgents who…


That’s not a new argument, there’s nothing particularly novel about that argument. I don’t share that view, I made the point today and I’ve made it before on numerous occasions that whatever view you may have had about the action in Iraq, everybody knows my view, leaving that aside there’s no doubt that the terrorists have adopted Iraq as a battleground and if a democracy takes root in Iraq then that is a setback for terrorism, and they’re throwing everything they’ve got at the task of stopping the elections being effective.


Prime Minister, Kim Beazley has been campaigning in the seat of Werriwa, where is the selection process at for a Liberal candidate for the by-election?


Well that is a matter for the organisation. But the party, my understanding, the organisation is considering that issue and they’ll be making an announcement about it in the next week or so.


Does Paul Langmack has what it takes to take the seat from Labor?


He’s a wonderful footballer but I don’t know anything more about his intentions, I did read this morning that, some reference to him, I don’t know how accurate that is, I don’t want to assume anything that may not be the case but he’s certainly a very fine citizen and a very fine rugby league player.


Do you think there is a chance the Liberals could take the seat?


Take the seat? Oh come on, that’s a very big challenge. But we haven’t decided what we’re going to do yet, that’s a matter for the party organisation.


Mr Howard, beyond the issue of America bashing there is an obvious high level of anxiety here across the board about the American economy and what the outlook is and what the impact will be of the Bush budget. Do you share that anxiety and what is your view about it?


Well I certainly don’t like the fact that the US budget is so heavily in deficit, that’s a view I’ve expressed before. I don’t know that I have an anxiety, I wouldn’t express it that way about the American economy, but the American economy is still making a very big contribution to world growth, it always will, however I would like to see a lower budget deficit.


And would you like to see the Chinese contribute to rebalancing the various aspects of the world economy, I went to that discussion today, there was a lot of views expressed by the Chinese about…


I thought the Vice-Chairman of the Central Bank gave a reasoned defence of their exchange rate policy. I think China’s exchange rate policy is a matter for the Chinese.


You having any luck on wheat, Prime Minister?


Wheat? What aspect of wheat?


Well you were very exercised on your…


Oh yes, we’ll continue to be, most of the people I’ve interacted with today are not really to blame.


The Chinese, Prime Minister encouraged the world to invest more in the country as it developed, is that an important issue for Australia, to invest more in China?


Well Australia has invested quite a bit already. But these things in the end have got to be determined by individual commercial decisions, I mean we don’t direct businessmen to invest in a particular country, we encourage them to take advantage of commercial opportunities. I wrote to a large number of Australian countries encouraging them to participate in an infrastructure conference that President Yudhoyono convened in Jakarta earlier this month and I believed a lot of them responded to that invitation. The question of whether they invest depends upon their commercial assessments and we don’t seek to influence those in any kind of overt fashion.


Prime Minister, just on Iraq, Mohamed ElBaradei has come out pleading with the global community to be patient with Iran, that they’re co-operating, how much time should the country be given?


Well I would like the discussions that are occurring between the three European countries and Iran to continue. I hope those discussions can produce a satisfactory result. That’s the view I expressed yesterday when I saw the Iranian Foreign Minister and continues to be our view and I hope it can work out. I don’t think there’s anything to be gained by more or anybody else nominating times…


Did he give you any encouragement?


Well he told me that Iran’s motives were positive. I think we have to wait and see.

Howard In Davos For WEF; Comments on Habib, Beazley

The Prime Minister, John Howard, is in Davos, Switzerland, for the latest meeting of the World Economic Forum.

Speaking to journalists, Howard criticised European wheat subsidies, but was otherwise non-committal on Mamdouh Habib and the ALP leadership.

According to its website, the World Economic Forum is “an independent international organization incorporated as a Swiss not-for-profit foundation”. Its members “represent the world’s 1,000 leading companies, along with 200 smaller businesses, many from the developing world, that play a potent role in their industry or region”. [Read more…]

Kim Beazley Returns As ALP Leader; Elected By Acclamation

Kim Beazley was re-elected by acclamation as leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party shortly after 9.00am today. Beazley nominated himself. There were no other contenders.

Beazley held a press conference at midday. He delivered the brief statement reproduced below and then answered questions. [Read more…]

Howard Has Trade Talks With World Leaders In Davos

This is the transcript of the doorstop interview given by the Prime Minister, John Howard, at the World Economic Forum Congress Centre in Davos, Switzerland.


Well today I had bilateral meetings with Bob Zoellick, who is the new US Deputy Secretary of State, still Trade Representative, the Foreign Minister of Iran, and also the Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist. In addition to that I participated in the BBC world debate, along with sundry other people, including John McCain and Joe Biden and the Secretary General of the Arab League and a cross section of commentators and other political figures. I specifically raised in that my concern about the need for America and Europe to work together to make the Doha round a success, there was a lot of criticism from the Europeans about the Americans over a number of issues and some people were calling for areas where there could be co-operation and I suggested that I hope that one area they might co-operate was to remove some of the agricultural protections and that would work very much to the advantage of developing countries and obviously Australia has a vested interest in that, but quite separately from our interest there’s a very big developing country interest in that. That’s all I want to say, any questions? [Read more…]

Liberals Quick To Ridicule Beazley

The Liberal Party has been quick to react to the re-election of Kim Beazley as Labor leader.

Following Beazley’s re-election press conference, the Liberal Party circulated a statement, attributed to Gough Whitlam by Phillip Adams, to subscribers to the party’s email newsletter.

The remark has Whitlam referring to Beazley’s extensive experience in government and asking: “Tell me one thing he did in any of them!”

The email is headed: [Read more…]

Governor-General Michael Jeffery’s Australia Day Address

The Governor-General, Michael Jeffery, has delivered his 2005 Australia Day Address.

Jeffery has been Governor-General since August 2003, following the resignation of Dr. Peter Hollingworth. He was previously Governor of Western Australia from 1993 to 2000. [Read more…]

Julia Gillard Withdraws From ALP Leadership Contest

Julia Gillard has announced that she is withdrawing from the contest for the ALP leadership.

Gillard, the member for Lalor since 1998, is the Shadow Minister for Health and Manager of Opposition Business in the House.

The leadership became vacant on January 18, following Mark Latham’s abrupt resignation as leader and member for Werriwa. [Read more…]

Coalition Outpolls Labor In Australia Day Honours

The annual list of Australia Day honours has been released.

Politically, the Liberal and National Parties have done well in this year’s honours.

The former Deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fischer, and the former Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett, have been made ACs, Companions of the Order of Australia, the highest category.

Lynton Crosby, the former federal director of the Liberal Party, was made an AO. Crosby has been in the news in recent days for his role in advising the British Conservative Party leader, Michael Howard. Howard has announced an immigration policy which includes a crackdown on asylum seekers. [Read more…]

Stephen Smith Says He Will Not Contest ALP Leadership Ballot

Stephen Smith has announced that he will not contest the ALP Caucus ballot for the ALP leadership.

Smith, the member for Perth since 1993, is the Shadow Minister for Industry, Infrastructure and Industrial Relations. [Read more…]