Red Shield Appeal, superannuation, River Murray, leadership, security – Doorstop Interview

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Red Shield Appeal, superannuation, River Murray, leadership, security – Doorstop Interview



Doorstop Interview

Wednesday, 21 May 2003

10.40 am CST


SUBJECTS: Red Shield Appeal, superannuation, River Murray, leadership, security


It’s a great honour for me to be able to launch the Red Shield Appeal for the

Salvation Army. The Salvation Army will be collecting from Australians on behalf

of those that need help and assistance. It is a wonderful organisation, it is

a great appeal, and if you have the chance to get behind it, please do. The

Red Shield Appeal and the Salvation Army have been helping Australians for hundreds

of years, and they will continue to do so.


Treasurer, older Australians are suffering with superannuation funds not performing.

How can the Government address that?


Well, superannuation funds, of course, have been losing money because world

stock markets have been down. And, of course, an international economic recovery,

a strong Australian economy, gives them better investment opportunities. But,

until you see the rest of the world recover, you will not get good investment

opportunities on international stock markets. In fact, the Australian stock

markets have performed better than most of the international ones. So, we have

got to keep working on making the Australian economy stronger, and hopefully

we will get an international recovery during the course of the year.


Treasurer, the, here in South Australia, obviously, the River Murray is vitally

important. Crucial. Do you think the Commonwealth is doing enough, and it is

mindful enough, of the problems here?


Well, we are very mindful of the problems. We know that in South Australia

the River Murray is the lifeblood. It is the water supply, and the lifeblood

for agriculture and, of course, to the cities as well. And we are very mindful

of that. Now, what we have got to work on, here, is we have got to work on making

sure that upstream users are not taking out unfair allocations in relation to

the Darling-Murray Basin. We need a much better system of title to water. We

need to make sure that allocations are consistent with good practice, good flow

practice, for downstream users. And the Commonwealth is very focussed on this,

and we will be taking a much stronger role in relation to the States to get

those water property rights clarified and properly allocated and enforced.


Should you be putting more money into it, though?


We are putting money into it. We make payments to the States, competition payments

to the States, when they comply with best practice. And maybe we should be tougher

in relation to these payments to ensure that all the States continue to work

at this, and we get improvements.


Does it concern you that the bottom line is that people in Adelaide and South

Australia are going to have water restrictions this year in the not too distant



Of course it is a matter of concern that the river system is being affected

by drought. Of course. We cannot overlook the fact that there has been a drought.

In fact, we have come through the worst drought in a hundred years, so you would

expect that to have an effect. But leaving aside the drought, of course it concerns

us that water users downstream can suffer if there is not proper management

of water use upstream. And this is where we need cooperation from the States,

and the Commonwealth stands ready to play its part in pushing the States to

get an efficient allocation of water rights.


Do you think the water restrictions should have been implemented in South Australia



Look, I am not an expert on water supply in South Australia so I cannot advise

on that, I am sorry.


Sir, given how well the Government’s obviously travelling and the leadership

tensions in the ALP, how’s the leadership sit for you in terms of the Liberal



Well, we, I have just delivered the Government’s Budget. We have to get that

enacted. The Opposition, regrettably, is continuing with obstruction in the

Senate. So, I am totally focussed on that and I have got to get that through,

hopefully by 30 June.


So you’re happy to be Treasurer for a few more years if need be?


Well, I will tell you this. I am very focussed on getting this Budget enacted,

and I have to do it by 30 June.


Treasurer, just on another matter. Security. Overnight we’ve seen embassies

closing – US, German, British embassies are closing in Riyadh. The Defence Minister

is saying it’s not going to, Australia won’t come into that. Do you see that

perhaps we are at risk in that part of the world?


Look, it is very important that we take all reasonable security measures. We

do. We rely on our intelligence agencies to advise us, and our defence professionals

to advise us. And we take all of that into account when making our decisions.

And this is a Government that really has focussed on Australia’s security. I

think everybody would agree with that, and we follow the advice very carefully

when we know of particular threats.


You don’t think, even so, that there are indicators from other countries that

there is a risk, that we should be re-assessing even as recently as today, that

it might not be the way to go, the way to be going?


Well look, if any announcements are to be made on this subject, they will be

made by the Foreign Affairs Minister and the Defence Minister. But I can

assure you that we very carefully assess the situation in conjunction with Australia’s

intelligence agencies, which we recently beefed up, and beefed up again in the

Budget, so that they can improve their dissemination collection and advice to

the Government.


America’s gone onto a higher level of security alert. Should we be doing the



Well, any announcements in relation to particular threats are made by the Department

of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Defence.

Thank you.