Prime Minister John Howard
Doorstop Press Conference
September 22, 2001
It was an impressive and compelling speech. I sent him a message expressing
Australias very strong support for the sentiments he expressed. He not
only spoke for America but he spoke for free societies everywhere in what he
said. The demands that he made on the Taliban were understandable and justified.
He delivered those demands in a measured yet strong fashion. He not only has
the understanding of the Australian Government and the Australian people but
their very strong support.
Mr Howard (inaudible) Australias forces to participate in this situation?
Well Australia has not received any request to participate. Obviously if Australia
received a request it would be considered, it would considered against the background
of my having already said that we are disposed to help. But until we receive
a request its pure speculation as to what it might be and obviously if
we decide to contribute then Ill have something further to say about the
character of that contribution.
What does it mean that wed resume military contact with Pakistan.
What it means is that the previous prohibition has been lifted. It doesnt
mean a great deal in practice but symbolically its an expression of a
greater understanding of Pakistans position and its not going to
mean a great deal in practice.
Prime Minister the fire at the mosque in Brisbane, what is your reaction to
Well Im horrified. If its an act of vandalism or vilification I
condemn it unreservedly. There is no place in Australia for that kind of despicable
conduct. I again say to my fellow Australians that Islamic Australians are as
entitled, as I am to a place in this community if their loyalty is to Australia,
as is ours, and their commitment is to this country. We must not allow our natural
anger at the extremes of Islam which have been manifested in the attack on the
World Trade Centre, we must not allow our natural anger at that to spill over
to Islamic people generally. Hundreds of Islamic people died in the World Trade
Centre and that is a fact that people should bear in mind. Barbarism has no
ethnicity and nobody should give any comfort to anybody in this country who
seeks to reek a general vengeance on people of the Islamic faith or people of
Middle Eastern descent.
Prime Minister can I ask you if you were to send a message to the Ansett workers
this weekend, who obviously their future is still uncertainty. What is your
message to them?
Well my message to them is that the Government has opted to secure their entitlements.
The Government hopes that the Ansett administrator and Qantas can resolve their
outstanding differences in relation to getting some of those airbuses back in
the air which would at least provide some hope of employment for some of the
Ansett employees. In the end what has to happen is that people who are involved
have got to sink their differences. It is not a time for union militancy, it
is a time for the administrator to show common sense, its a time for Qantas
to show a spirit of common sense and compromise. We put hard money on the table
to look after entitlements and we are willing to facilitate in other ways to
get agreement between Qantas and the administrator. But I would like to see
their differences resolved quickly. The Australian public wants those differences
resolved quickly so that we can get more capacity and the travelling public
can be relieved of inconvenience. As to the longer term I hope that some of
the negotiations now underway between the administrator and others will come
to successful fruition. But in the short term weve guaranteed the entitlements
and I want to see the administrator and Qantas resolve their differences about
the wet leasing of those airbuses so that we can get them in the air and we
can start moving more people.
Mr Howard, the Ansett as we know it now, is it over?
Well that ultimately is a matter for discussion between the administrator and
people who are prepared to invest in some kind of resurrected Ansett. It is
hard to believe that it will go back to where it was, I think yesterday that
was the point I was making. But that doesnt mean to say a slimmed down
Ansett or various parts of the former company might rise from the difficulty.
But in the short term I want to see greater capacity and that can only come
about if the administrator and Qantas sink their differences, reach an agreement
and get those wet leases underway so that those airbuses can be flying as soon
as possible. Now theres a responsibility on both Qantas and the administrator
and Im asking both of them to try harder to resolve their current difficulties
so those airbuses can be flying as soon as possible.