ACME Field Day, Leadership, Iraq, Petrol

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Budget; Defence spending; health; petrol
February 24, 2003
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February 20, 2003
Budget; Defence spending; health; petrol
February 24, 2003

ACME Field Day, Leadership, Iraq, Petrol


Doorstop Interview

Opening of ACME Field Day
Warrnambool, VIC

Friday, 21 February 2003
1.35 pm

SUBJECTS: ACME Field Day, Leadership, Iraq, Petrol


Can I just say how great it is to see the rain here in Warrnambool. I think

everybody that I have spoken to has felt a bit of a spring in their step today

and felt that things are looking up and felt so much better because of the rain,

and although it has made it a muddy field day, the ACME field day has been a

great success because of the coming of the rain and we hope just keeps on raining.


….(inaudible) credit for it?


I’m not sure we can take any credit for it, I know that there have

been some women who have been dancing naked in the fields here in Victoria and

they’ve made bigger sacrifices and so they can take most of the credit for the

rain coming, I think.


What do you think of the economic impact if it is? Now that the drought has



Well, gee we hope that this could be the start of the drought breaking, obviously

there is time to go, but crop production’s down 60 percent already, the forecast

is, and diary production is down about 8 or 9 percent Australia’s GDP has been

revised down by 1 percent as a consequence of drought and we are looking at

our budget and our forecast for the next financial year and it is critical for

us of course that the drought breaks and, gee we hope this is the start of it.


What do you think about the field day and the importance of the dairy industry

to the region?


The dairy industry is incredibly important to this region. It is one of the

great employers, it underpins income, it is very important for exports and it

has been driven by innovation. I pay credit to the farmers here, for the way

in which they have embraced innovation and investment in their own properties

and it is important I think, that we continue to drive the trade agenda so that

they get the opportunity to export.


Treasurer, the Prime Minister says that he hasn’t given any thought to his

long term future recently. Does that concern you?


Oh look, we have been over these issues for quite a while now, Mr Howard has

indicated that he’s going to give some consideration to things later in the

year and I have indicated that that’s fair enough and accordingly I’ll wait

to see what the outcome is.


Does the fact that Shane Stone has decided to re-stand as Director suggest

that Mr Howard will (inaudible)…..through to the next election?


No. Shane Stone has been the president of the party in the past he has indicated

that he intends to continue on. Federal President is not a significant job in

terms of campaigns or obviously in terms of parliamentary representation. The

Federal President’s job is to chair the Federal Executive, which Mr Stone has

done for the last number of years, and if he wants to continue, well he’s been,

you know, he is somebody who has chaired those meetings quite well, I think.


Do you find it odd that he didn’t speak to you about it, even though you’re

the leader in waiting?


Well, I think that somebody who wanted to engage in wide consultation would

have spoken to me about it, yes. But obviously that’s a question of the style

and the degree to which they want to engage in consultation so I think the more

consultation, the better, and I think it would have been advisable to consult

in relation to this. But that is something that he must take into account in

relation to his management of the organisation.


Have you forgiven him for the mean and tricky memo?


I don’t think about the past. I concentrate very much on the future and…..


…(inaudible) you’re a family man, how long would you wait around for the



I am not sure what my family has got to do with it. Kids grow up, that’s life.


How are they (inaudible) as a team will that affect your future decision?


Oh no. Mr Stone is somebody who has been Federal President, his main role has

been to chair the Federal Executive Meeting which I think he has done competently.

He is not engaged in Parliamentary tactics or strategy or any of the big Government

decision-making. So he is not really engaged in the day to day operation of

the Government. But if he wants to continue on in that organisational role,

there is probably a role there for him.


(inaudible) change you career?


No, Mr Stone doesn’t change my career decisions.


How would you feel about working with him though if you were Prime Minister?


Mr Stone? Well look, the Federal President is somebody who chairs the Federal

Executive, and it’s an important role but it’s not a strategic role, it’s not

a Government role. It’s not involved in decision making so you can work with

people who have that role. That’s not a key role in the operation of the Government

or a campaign.


Would you be prepared to spend another term as Treasurer?


I am going to bring down this year’s Budget, which I am totally focused on,

and that is taking all of my effort and my energy and I am not thinking about

anything other than the immediate task that is in front of me.


Will there be any relief from petrol prices in that Budget? Are we going to

see some tax cuts?


Look, the price of petrol is a consequence of the world’s oil price. The world

oil price has gone up because of fears of the war in Iraq and strikes in Venezuela.

It has nothing to do with Australia’s taxation system, or any Government decision.

That’s why petrol prices have gone up. Until such time as fears in relation

to the Middle East subside, or production is improved, either in Venezuela or

in other countries, you will have a higher oil price and the unfortunate thing,

the very unfortunate thing, is that reflects in the bowser. But, it is not a

Government decision that sets that price, and there’s no Government decision

that changes that price. There has been no Government decision. This is a function

of the world oil price.


South-west residents were among those protesting against the war. What sort

of impacts can they expect if we do go to War?


Well the first and most obvious impact of the situation in the Middle East,

of course, is the rising oil prices. That’s happened already. And that is a

consequence of fears in relation to Iraq and the Middle East. There would be

other consequences if war were to break out. We hope it won’t. We hope that

this can be resolved peacefully, that Saddam Hussein will disarm and will account

for his chemical and biological weapons, and if that occurs then the matter

could be finished quickly. But if not, well the world community will have to



The Prime Minister has made some comments suggesting protests have been giving

comfort to Saddam Hussein. Would you support those comments?


Well, I think in the protest movement there are some hardened activists, who,

there are some hardened activists in the protest movement who wear banners with

socialist alternative or what other radical group that they happen to belong

to. There are some people that are genuinely concerned about war, they have

a right to make their point, there is no doubt about that. But, to those people

I would say, that we have to think both the short term and long term, and long

term, the prospect of a brutal dictator with means of mass destruction is very

worrying for peace, very worrying indeed, and I for one don’t want a situation

where a dictator in the Middle East has the capacity for mass destruction, chemical,

biological or nuclear.