Detention Centres, Trinity School, Chinese Investment, Aboriginal Issues, Cairns Show, Queensland State Politics – Doorstop Interview, Cairns Show

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Detention Centres, Trinity School, Chinese Investment, Aboriginal Issues, Cairns Show, Queensland State Politics – Doorstop Interview, Cairns Show

Doorstop Interview

Cairns Show

Thursday, 21 July 2005

12.45 pm

SUBJECTS: Detention Centres, Trinity School, Chinese Investment, Aboriginal

Issues, Cairns Show, Queensland State Politics


Treasurer, (inaudible) had in mind?


Well I am not familiar with the details of those, I think it would be best

to refer questions in relation to that to the relevant Minister. I am obviously

up here at the Cairns Show and I am not in moment by moment contact with immigration

detention centres.


Do you think we should be increasing calls on Amanda Vanstone to go?


No, Amanda Vanstone is the Minister who I think has very conscientiously applied

herself to immigration matters. It is true that the immigration system failed

Cornelia Rau and it is true that the immigration system failed in relation to

Vivian Solon and each of those ladies is entitled to an apology. The important

thing is to make sure that errors like that never occur again. And I believe

that putting in place the immigration changes that we have, together with a

new approach from the personnel in the department that we can put in place such

a system.


There are more than ten schools in Cairns, why did you choose the wealthiest

one to visit this morning?


Because they invited me. Some time ago sitting at my desk in Canberra I received

a letter from the Trinity Anglican School that said if you are ever in Cairns

would you please come and address our assembly. I didn’t think I would

be in Cairns, but when Warren invited me to come to Cairns with the opportunity

to go up to Cape York, it was about 1,000-1 chance I was passing through and

I was able to take up the offer that they had made.


Treasurer, the Chinese national oil company has today expressed interest in

buying a stake in either Woodside or possibly even Santos, given that you rejected

the Shell offer there, what is your view on that at this stage?


Well I don’t comment on matters that might go before the Foreign Investment

Review Board because they have to be treated as commercial in confidence but

if an application is made it will be considered by the Board, the Board makes

a recommendation and ultimately I have the ability to either confirm or reject

that application. So it is far too early for me to comment on such an application

until it has been made if it is made – I don’t even know that it has been

made – if it is made and until it has been assessed.


Treasurer, what are you hoping to get from your visit to the Cape York?


Well I think that there has been a lot of change in thinking about how best

to address problems of disadvantage in Aboriginal communities. I think that

what we are now beginning to realise is that permanent welfare can damage communities,

that the most important thing is to give people economic opportunity to participate

in mainstream economic life and what I want to look at is some of the investments

that are being made to see whether they can give real business opportunities

and real employment opportunities which can enfranchise people into the mainstream

of Australian economic life. And I think from the public’s point of view,

the public wants to know, is the money being well spent. Is it being well spent?

Are there some projects that are succeeding and other projects that are failing?

And I don’t know the answer to that question, I want to go and I want

to have a look and I want to go back to Canberra afterwards and draw some conclusions.


What brings you to Cairns and up to Queensland?


Well, coming to Cairns is a great experience because it is a tourist centre,

it is the centre for one of Australia’s greatest tourist attractions,

the Great Barrier Reef, it is an agricultural centre, I think these agricultural

shows are a big part of Australian life and it is great to see one thriving

like this, this is apparently the biggest agricultural show outside of Brisbane.

And to see the rural way of life, stepping forward and being judged on the grounds

of excellence in breeding, in production is really reassuring that Australia’s

agriculture is in good hands and I like to support the shows and to be frank,

the characters that you meet, some of the characters that I have met on my visit

here are just fabulous people. We had a guy who came out here with the US Army

in the Second World War and he is 86 and he is still exhibiting at the Cairns

Show and that is after about 56 or 57 years. Not bad.


What do you say to people who suggest this is about broadening your image for

a tilt at the leadership?


People can say what they like. For me as Treasurer, I like to see all of Australia

and regional Australia is a big part of the national identity, it is a big part

of our national economy and you see great characters and I love meeting great

characters. The great characters of Australian life can be found in rural shows

and you don’t want to miss seeing them before they go.


While you are in Queensland would you be interested in encouraging the State

National Liberal Party to form a Coalition with the State National Party?


I am not going to advise the State political parties on how to manage their

affairs but I will make this point. The Liberal Party holds more seats in Federal

seats in Queensland than we ever have really. And we have a very successful

Federal Coalition and I want to keep it that way and we have shown that the

Federal Liberal Party can work well with the Federal National Party in Queensland

and be successful, that is the way I want to keep it. What happens at the State

level, you will have to ask the state leaders, I have got enough problems running

things at the Federal level to engage in State advice.


There must be something wrong (inaudible) five seats out of an 89 seat Parliament?


Well that is right, it is a bad result, I don’t think it is good for

the people of Queensland that you have a Labor Government with such a huge majority,

I don’t think it is leading to good government because in my walking around

and discussion with Queenslanders, they know this Government should be held

more accountable, this State Government, and they want a stronger opposition

and we would all like to see it. But am I an expert on State oppositions? No,

and I don’t want to become an expert of federal oppositions either.


Would you say that the path to electability is unity, or at least some kind



I reckon where you work together, you generally work better.


It has been proven that pouring great amounts of money into indigenous community

isn’t the answer. Activists have even been criticised, (inaudible) the

likes of Noel Pearson, pouring too much money in and babysitting the indigenous

community as such, does the Liberal Government have a plan of attack?


Well I would agree with that. I think if welfare becomes a way of life it can

actually damage people. That there is no substitute for a real job with the

satisfaction of work and a real income. It is good for your self-esteem, health

standards begin to rise. Real work in real businesses with real economic opportunity.

Don’t think you are doing people a favour if you put them on welfare for

10 or 20 or 30 or 40 years, that doesn’t do them a favour and it doesn’t

help society as a whole, and it is not too good for taxpayers either. And I

think for Aboriginal people and for white people a real job in a real company

rather than welfare is a much better opportunity than a process which can actually

demoralise you.


That’s what you want to happen, how do you intend to make that happen?


I have got to go and see what is working and what is not and then I will draw

some conclusions. Thanks, thanks very much