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Archives for January 2006

President Bush’s 2006 State of the Union Address

President Bush has delivered the annual State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress in Washington DC. Less ambitious in scope than in previous years, reflecting his loss of political capital, Bush stuck fast to his foreign policy goals and proposed limited domestic policies.

The speech began with a tribute to Coretta Scott King, widow of the slain Martin Luther King. Mrs. King died today.

In the speech, Bush reiterated his commitment to US intervention in Iraq. He called for the Congress to renew the Patriot Act. Domestically, Bush called for the Congress to make permanent tax cuts and set out a plan to cut the US oil imports from the Middle East by 75% by 2025. He proposed a range of research initiatives into alternative fuel sources, such as ethanol. [Read more…]


John Howard’s Australia Day Address to the National Press Club

Australia Day embodies a “profound truth and a simple irony”, according to the Prime Minister, John Howard.

John HowardAccording to Howard, “the truth is that people come to this country because they want to be Australians. The irony is that no institution or code lays down a test of Australianness. Such is the nature of our free society.”

Addressing the National Press Club in the Great Hall of Canberra’s Parliament House, Howard fielded many questions about yesterday’s reshuffle and the position of the National Party, but his speech focussed on what he said was “the secret of Australia’s greatness – our sense of balance”. [Read more…]


Howard Ministry; Nelson To Defence; Nats Lose; Turnbull Tapped

The Prime Minister, John Howard, has announced changes to his ministry, moving Brendan Nelson from Education to Defence and promoting the Minister for Ageing, Julie Bishop, into Cabinet as Education Minister. The PM has also promoted Mal Brough from Assistant Treasurer into Cabinet to replace Kay Patterson as Minister for a revamped Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs portfolio.

The National Party’s De-Anne Kelly has been dropped from the Ministry and becomes a Parliamentary Secretary, as a result of yesterday’s defection of Nationals Senator Julian McGauran to the Liberal Party. In a move that will cause further angst for the junior coalition partner, the Nationals lose a place in the ministry but gain an additional Parliamentary Secretary’s position. Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile remains Minister for Trade.

Other major positions in the government remain unchanged, with Peter Costello (Treasurer), Alexander Downer (Foreign Affairs), Tony Abbott (Health), Nick Minchin (Finance), Philip Ruddock (Attorney-General) and Kevin Andrews (Workplace Relations) all unchanged.

Senator Amanda Vanstone has had her wings clipped. She retains Immigration but loses Indigenous Affairs which goes to Mal Brough’s expanded Families portfolio. [Read more…]


Details of Howard Government’s Ministerial Changes

Changes to the Howard Government’s ministerial arrangements were announced today. They follow the departures over the past week of Senators Hill, Patterson and McDonald.

The changes were announced by the Prime Minister, John Howard, at a press conference in Canberra this afternoon.

The changes see the National Party lose one ministerial position as a result of yesterday’s defection of Senator Julian McGauran to the Liberal Party. [Read more…]


Tony Blair Praises Geoff Gallop

Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Great BritainThe British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has praised the retiring Premier of Western Australia, Geoff Gallop, as “one of the outstanding politicians of our generation”.

Blair’s comments came as the Labor caucus in Western Australia endorsed Alan Carpenter unopposed as their new leader. Carpenter will be sworn in tomorrow as Premier.

Speaking at his monthly press conference at 10 Downing Street, Blair was asked:

The Western Australian Premier, Geoff Gallop, recently resigned, he is an old friend of yours from your university days. He resigned because of depression. What were your thoughts when you heard about him stepping down because of mental illness?

Blair responded:

Well obviously as you probably know I have spoken to Geoff several times in the past 10 days or so. Geoff Gallpp was in my view one of the outstanding politicians of our generation, an absolutely brilliant man, a fantastic person as well, and as people in Western Australia will know, a person of tremendous warmth, integrity and achievement in western Australia. And so obviously I was really sorry that he took that decision but I know he did it in the best interests of the state and his own family and his own health. And I have no doubt at all he will bounce back very quickly because he is a quite exceptional person.

Blair and Gallop were both at Oxford University in the early 1970s. Gallop was a Rhodes Scholar.


Hill Confirms Resignation; UN Diplomatic Appointment Expected Soon

The Minister for Defence, Senator Robert Hill, has this morning confirmed his resignation as a minister in the Howard government. Hill indicated he would also resign from the Senate in the coming months. He denied being offered the post of ambassador to the United Nations but indicated he would be willing to continue in public service.

Senator Robert Hill, outgoing Minister for DefenceHill is also the government leader in the Senate. His resignation sets the scene for a major ministerial reshuffle. The Prime Minister, John Howard, is to address the National Press Club next Wednesday, January 25th, by which time the reshuffle is expected to be announced.

Hill’s position in the ministry paves the way for the promotion of either Victorian backbencher Andrew Robb or NSW backbencher Malcolm Turnbull. Media reports in recent days suggest that Senator Nick Minchin, the Finance Minister, will assume Hill’s leadership position in the Senate and possibly take on Defence. [Read more…]


Resignation Statement by Senator Robert Hill

Senator Robert Hill, the Minister for Defence, announced his resignation today.

Hill is expected to take up the position of Australian Ambassador to the United Nations. [Read more…]


Howard Pays Tribute To Hill

The Prime Minister, John Howard, has paid tribute to Senator Robert Hill’s “distinguished and highly successful political career”.

Senator Hill today announced his resignation as Defence Minister and indicated he would soon leave Parliament. He is expected to take the position of Australian Ambassador to the United Nations, in New York.

Hill served as Minister for the Environment from the Howard government’s election in March 1996 until November 2001 when he became Minister for Defence. [Read more…]


Citing Depression, Geoff Gallop, WA Premier, Resigns

The Premier of Western Australia, Geoff Gallop, has announced his resignation, due to depression.

Gallop will resign as Premier and from Parliament. Gallop has been leader of the WA ALP since 1996 and Premier since 2001.

This is the text of the statement from Geoff Gallop.

Geoff Gallop, outgoing Premier of Western AustraliaIt is my difficult duty to inform you today that I am currently being treated for depression.

Living with depression is a very debilitating experience, which affects different people in different ways.

It has certainly affected many aspects of my life. So much so, that I sought expert help last week.

My doctors advised me that with treatment, time and rest this illness is very curable.

However, I cannot be certain how long I will need. So in the interests of my health and my family I have decided to rethink my career.

My commitment to politics has always been 100 per cent plus. I now need that time to restore my health and well-being.

Therefore I am announcing today my intention to resign as Premier of Western Australia and Member for Victoria Park in the State Parliament.

It has been an enormous privilege and pleasure to serve this State and witness the wonderful progress that is being made.

I would like to thank the WA public for bestowing on me the immense responsibility and thrill of leading this great State for just under five years; and my colleagues for giving me the honour of leading the WA Labor Party for the best part of 10 years.

I would particularly like to thank the residents of Victoria Park for the support they have given me for nearly 20 years.

In fact, what has made this announcement all the more difficult today is that I love being Premier, I love the work, I love the State and I love its people.

In order to do the job, you need the support of your staff, the Cabinet and your Parliamentary colleagues. They have all been magnificent and I will always cherish the times I have spent with them working on ideas for a better future.

Even though change of the sort I announce today will bring its challenges and will be disruptive in the very short term, I am confident that the Government will continue its excellent work.

The State Parliamentary Labor Party at its earliest possible convenience will decide my successor. In the meantime, Eric Ripper has kindly cancelled his scheduled leave to continue to act as Premier.

I hope you will appreciate the pressure my current condition has placed on my family, who have been a tower of strength and a source of great support.

I now need the space required to start the process of full recovery and for this reason I will not be taking questions nor doing any further media interviews.

I thank you for your co-operation and I wish you all well for the future.