Kalgoorlie, baby bonus, Government advertising, troop withdrawal

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Kalgoorlie, baby bonus, Government advertising, troop withdrawal



Doorstop Interview

Goldfields Chamber of Minerals and Energy

Kalgoorlie, WA

Monday, 28 June 2004

1.30 pm


SUBJECTS: Kalgoorlie, baby bonus, Government advertising, troop withdrawal


I’m here at the invitation of Barry Haase to tour the electorate of Kalgoorlie,

meet community leaders. We have just had a community leaders’ lunch to

discuss issues of concern to the people of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and to the people

of the electorate of Kalgoorlie. I had the wonderful opportunity to see some

of the mining operations and talk about some areas of mining policy earlier

on today. And we will be discussing with some of the community leaders some

of the projects, the development projects, that they have and they want Canberra

to be informed about.


One of those projects is no doubt the Ravensthorpe Nickel Project. There’s

been, I guess, a lot of discontent as to why the Commonwealth hasn’t come

to the party in contributing towards community infrastructure. Why hasn’t

the federal Government come to the party?


Well, we will be discussing that further this afternoon. Obviously we welcome

the development and we think it is a terrific development, and we have discussed

with the BHP-Billiton executives the development, and we think it will be a

very profitable development. It was not required to have assistance to make

it profitable, it is a profitable project in itself because it is such a wonderful

deposit. And we had very extensive discussions with the leadership of that company,

and the leadership of the company is quite confident about the profitability

of the Project.


The State Government’s pouring $10 billion into resources here. I mean,

what’s that mean for WA?


How much? $10 billion? Into what?


$18 million.


$10 billion. I’d love to know if the State Government was pouring $10

billion …


The State Government’s pouring $18 million towards the Ravensthorpe Nickel

Project [inaudible]. The State Government is devising a $10 billion resources

plan. As a result, what does that mean for WA?


Oh well, the development of resources are absolutely important for the country

generally. We want to see the resource industry of Western Australia develop

and prosper. It is one of the reasons why the Prime Minister led the consortium

up to China for the signing of Australia’s largest ever export contract

coming off the North-West Shelf. It is one of the reasons why we are pushing

LNG to the State of California, with the recent trade mission that the Prime

Minister took there. It is one of the reasons why we reformed Australia’s

tax system to take all taxes off exports. And it is one of the reasons why we

believe there should be no diesel excise on the mining industry. I call on Mark

Latham to backflip, to change his policy, to announce that he will not be putting

$470 million of new taxes on the mining industry. Because it is Labor policy

to introduce a 4 cent a litre new tax on Australia’s mining industry.

It will not be good for Australia’s mining industry and I call on Mr Latham

to announce today that he will not be proceeding with that policy.


Is it a responsible thing to hand $3,000 to teenage mums, drug addicted mums?


We have said that mothers who have drug addiction problems, or otherwise are

not able to properly manage their affairs, we will be putting in place arrangements

which will mean that they do not get a lump sum.


Was that the case at the time, when you announced it?


Yes it was, when I announced it. I made it absolutely clear that mothers who

had drug problems would not be getting lump sums.


That will be a difficult thing to do, won’t it?


The Secretary of the Department has the discretion in relation to that, and

it will be properly exercised. But the overwhelming majority of mothers will

be responsible, and it is the right thing to give them a lump sum to help with

the rearing of their children. Let me make this point – managing $3,000 is difficult;

raising children is much more difficult.


But …


Hang on. If we are going to trust mothers with children, I think we can trust

mothers with the financial support to raise those children.


You’re not afraid that they’ll blow it in the first couple of weeks

on a colour telly or something?


You are talking about mothers who have given birth, who society trusts to raise

the most valuable people in our community – young children. This idea

that we can trust mothers with children, we just can not trust them with money

– I do not adhere to that view.


Well what’s your take on Labor’s plan to get the Auditor General

to review Government advertising spending when it gets in, if it gets into power?

Are you worried about that?


No. The Government advertises programmes which Australians can take benefit

from, and for which they need information if they are going to take benefit.

Let us go to Medicare. We are introducing a safety net. In order to qualify

for the safety net, you are going to have to register your family so you can

get the benefit. If you do not advertise it, you would be accused of short-changing

people. So you have got to go out and advertise it. The Government advertises

apprenticeships. Why? Well I have just heard in this community lunch here in

Kalgoorlie-Boulder, there are skilled shortages because not enough kids are

going into apprenticeships. So we are trying to advertise apprenticeships. The

Government advertises Defence Force recruiting. Why? Because we are trying to

recruit for the Defence Force. Now, there is no point in having a recruiting

campaign if you do not tell people that it is available. There is no point in

having apprenticeships if kids do not know that they can get them. There is

no point having a safety net if you do not know how to apply for it.


I guess it’s the timing of that advertising.


Well, the timing, if I may say so, is all above board because it is benefits

that are being delivered to people.


Well just on that, in terms of getting young [inaudible]


Let me make another point. Could I recommend to Labor that they look at the

payment of rent by the Australian National Audit Office. If they are so worried

about auditors general, they should try and help the Auditor General with his

rent bill, which is being paid to the Australian Labor Party. One last question.

Sorry, you were about to ask.


Yes. Look, we’ve had the Hercules fired at yesterday. Isn’t it

sooner or later that, you know, some Australian might get killed? Isn’t

it … Don’t you think we should get them, get the troops home? Isn’t

there a possibility sooner or later that some Australian soldier’s going

to get injured over there?


We hope that no Australian soldier is injured. Of course we do. But in dangerous

theatres of war, people are risking their lives. I pay tribute to the bravery

of the Australian Defence Forces. But can I say, you are not going to make their

lives more secure if you pull out the support, if you pull out the protection,

if you pull out the trainers which are training an Iraqi force. In fact, some

kind of knee-jerk reaction to pull some parts of those deployments out, could

actually make things more dangerous for Australian troops. And that is why,

in the theatre of war like this, you have got to rely on, trust, the career

officers, their best advice, and make sure you do not have a knee-jerk response

but that you do everything you can to ensure that the situation is pacified.