Forestry policy, election, James Hardie, pre-emptive strikes – Doorstop Interview, Launceston

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Forestry policy, election, James Hardie, pre-emptive strikes – Doorstop Interview, Launceston




Doorstop Interview

Queen Victoria Museum Café

Invermay, Launceston

Tuesday, 21 September 2004

1.50 pm


SUBJECTS: Forestry policy, election, James Hardie, pre-emptive



Well Peter Costello no promises for Tasmanian, for forestry, no talk of

the compensation package today?


I had some discussions with some of the players in relation to investment

and forest industry and we are taking consultations, discussing things widely

before we make any further announcements in relation to the issue but it

is not my place to make any announcements. I won’t be making any today.


But the forest policy is still in the (inaudible)?


The Government’s position is this: that we believe that forestry is of

high conservation value. We know that there are a lot of Australians that

want to preserve Australia’s best forests for future generations, we understand

that. We also know that there are people’s whose livelihood depends on sensible

forestry management and it is getting the balance between those two right

which is important and having discussions with the interested players is

a big part of getting that balance right.


Is it sensible forestry management now?


Well let me say that I think things improved dramatically once the Government

put in place the Regional Forest Agreement but we have always got to monitor

how things are going and we have got to make sure that we balance the legitimate

desire of Australians to protect our wonderful natural resources and the

legitimate interest that local people have in their jobs.


What about John Gay, you spoke with him this morning. How about his argument

that Tasmania’s economy will be shot without the forestry industry as we

know it today, and its forecasted growth?


Well it was a great opportunity to meet with John and talk to him and hear

his views and we are listening to everyone’s views.


John was concerned that you didn’t give an assurance that the Regional

Forest Agreement would be maintained as is.


Well as I said I am not making announcements on Tasmanian forestry issues,

that is not why I am here. I am here to support Michael Ferguson who is

a fantastic candidate for Bass and one of the most energetic candidates

I have ever seen. It is great to be here at the Inveresk Development which

the Coalition Government in Canberra funded and announced, and has now delivered

on in full. It was great to walk along the Boardwalk in Seaport which the

Coalition Government announced and funded. It was great to see York Park

which the Coalition Government announced and funded in full and after I

had seen all of those wonderful things you know, Michael had a few more

things that he wanted me to see.


(inaudible) Treasurer, the opinion polls today put the Opposition I guess,

in the first election winning lead it has had since the election was called.

How concerning is that?


Well people have got to realise that you could have Mark Latham in control

of your mortgage in three weeks time…


Mr Costello…


…he could be in charge of economic policy. His last gig out was as

Mayor of the Liverpool Council and according to the polls his next one could

be as Prime Minister responsible for your mortgage, your job, interest rates

in your business and I urge people to think very, very carefully about Mr

Latham’s economic credentials.


Mr Costello, what is in the Tasmanian package…


Sorry, sorry.


Mr Costello we have had three visits from the PM so far, another one on

Thursday. We have you here today. How much influence has Bass got on the

outcome of the Federal election?


An enormous influence I think. See, Labor takes Tasmania for granted. They

say Tasmania votes Labor, Labor has got five out of five seats, we don’t

have to worry much about Tasmania. And Labor is complacent in Tasmania and

the Members are complacent in Tasmania. My message is this: that we, the

Coalition Government, don’t take Tasmania for granted, we don’t hold any

of the seats, but gee we would like to win a few and with a good candidate

like Michael, I think we have got a chance.




Sorry, yes, yes, I had better ration these, sorry.


Will John Howard be announcing the Tasmania package on Thursday and if

so, what are the key planks?


Well I don’t know when Mr Howard is coming down but I am sure when he does

he will announce a Tasmanian package, of that I’d be very confident, and

what will be in it, well you will have to wait for his announcement but

Michael put a pretty good case to me today about pilons on the river bank

of the Tamar River so I am going to go back and have a look at that very



Do you have any plans…


Sorry, yes.


…do you have any plans to take away the cap on the Bass Straight

Passenger Subsidy?


Right, let me make this point, our Government introduced this subsidy,

now I personally was responsible for the decision to introduce it –

not Mr Lennon, not Mr Latham, not anybody else, our Government. It has been

enormously successful in relation to the Bass Straight. In relation to caps

on the vehicle from Sydney, it is no where near the cap. There is no journey

that is being affected by the cap, so this has been an enormously successful

policy and it is something that we want to continue. We introduced it, we

want to continue it.


The Tourism Council are basically saying that whilst it is no where near

the cap now it may well be in two years time.


Well let’s wait and see, you know, oh how I wish, you know, how I wish

we could have such an explosion in the programme that the cap would be relevant,

but it is not.


Treasurer, concerns about the…


Ok, I will take two more, yes and yes.


The Jackson inquiry into James Hardie has found that executives had in

fact breached Corporation Law. What is your reaction to that?


Well I think we ought to be very careful here about coming to any conclusions,

but let me say this. The Australian Securities and Investment Commission

which is funded more than at any other time in Australian history, which

I have personally increased the budget of, will be asked to investigate

ever possible breach of the Corporations Act and to bring to justice anybody

that has been in breach of that Act. Now we have a corporate regulator,

the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, ASIC, well funded,

on the ball and it will investigate these matters without fear or favour

and if there is any person that has breached their duty or any person that

has tried unlawfully to hide assets of a company, the full weight of the

law will be brought down against them.


(inaudible) to be changes to the Corporations Law?




The Commissioner seems to have recommended it.


…well look, you have to be quite precise here, I have got a letter,

I have just received a letter from the Premier of New South Wales, that

says this, and I haven’t read it, it has only just got tabled in Sydney

sometime around lunch time. It says this: the Commissioner has not expressed

a concluded view on the need for reform. So, I haven’t read the Report,

the Premier of New South Wales says that the Commissioner didn’t express

a concluded view on the need for reform. But having said that, I will read

it when I get the opportunity and when I do read it, if there is a recommendation

in relation to that, of course we will consider it very, very seriously.


Why would the Government rule out pre-emptive strikes…


Now this really is the very last question, yes.


Why would the Government rule out pre-emptive strikes on regions where

JI activity is in fact intense?


Why would we, or why wouldn’t we?


Why wouldn’t you as I understand? Why would the Government rule out pre-emptive

strikes against Jamah Islamiah in regions where JI is active?


Well the Government’s view is this, that we have a terrorist organisation

such as Jamah Islamiah that could be plotting to kill our fellow citizens

as they did in Bali. Anything that this Government can do to save Australian

lives ought to be done. If we can get the assistance of other countries

we will do it. But we will do what is necessary to protect our citizens.

And we are not going to go around and give terrorists assurances that will

make them feel safe and happy when they start planning attacks on Australian

citizens. It is not our interest to give reassurance to terrorists. It is

in our interests to stop them.


Are you saying that by Mark Latham saying that they will rule out pre-emptive

strikes that they are giving comfort to terrorists?


Well what I am saying is I, our Government, will not be giving any assurances

to terrorists. Terrorists ought to know this: if they plan to kill Australians,

the Australian Government will do what it can to protect Australian citizens

including cooperate with other countries that also have an interest in stopping

Jamah Islamiah, countries like Indonesia. And the one assurance I will give

the terrorists is this, that the Australian Government will be looking after

our citizens. Thank you.