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Australia
Prime Minister John Howard
Interview with Mike Munro on A Current Affair, Network Nine
September 12, 2001

MUNRO:

Prime Minister thanks for your time and thanks for joining us so late at night. We can’t speak to you on camera because of security reasons, are you able to say where you are?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m in Washington. I’m fine. I’m far more concerned about the terrible loss of life and the terrible assault on the American people in what’s happened today. And it really has been an extraordinary moment in the history of this country and people should understand that it’s very much an attack not just on America, but it’s an attack on a way of life that we in Australia share in common with the Americans and many other people around the world.

MUNRO:

What do you think this will mean to the world’s outlook on terrorism in the future Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

I hope that it hardens even more the resolve of countries to deal with terrorism. Not to compromise with it. I hope if anything positive comes out of this it will be that new resolve on the part of the free world and on the part of democratic countries to fight it and fight it hard. Not to compromise with countries that turn a blind eye to terrorism. It is really a very black day for humanity. And it will leave a lasting impression on the psyche of the free world.

MUNRO:

Prime Minister you were in your hotel room when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Centre. Is that right?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes I was.

MUNRO:

Can you take us through that, those next few moments?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I was, I was told by my Press Secretary that it had happened. And I went around to do my press conference and I mentioned it at the beginning and apparently while I was doing the press conference the other plane struck and also there was the hit on the Pentagon. And of course, what we have to understand Mike is that there will be many Australians involved in this. There are three and a half thousand young people, mainly young people, working for one financial institution in the World Trade Centre and some of those will be Australians. I fear that there will be quite a number of Australians whose lives will have been lost both in the Trade Centre and also on aircraft.

MUNRO:

Have you heard any confirmation of those reports at this stage?

PRIME MINISTER:

Not confirmation but I do know quite a number are unaccounted for. It’s just too early to say at this stage. I just don’t know. Nobody knows. And now as I speak to you from Washington tonight they still haven’t established, with any degree of accuracy, the death toll.

MUNRO:

And you were actually at the Pentagon less than 24 hours before. True?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes I was.

MUNRO:

How serious are you taking this in relation to a possible attack on Australia - terrorism on Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

There’s no evidence in front of me that suggests that anything is going to happen in Australia but we have lifted our level of security. Nobody should imagine that we are innocently immune from this sort of thing. Those sort of days are gone. You can’t assume that.

MUNRO:

On a more personal note, Mrs Howard is with you, how did this affect you both?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we feel for the people concerned. We grieve for the people who’ve died and we feel desperately sorry for the Americans and for people of other countries including our own who have died in this. The tragic individual stories that are going to unfold – the wife of the American Solicitor General telephoning from one of the planes saying they’ve been hijacked. Those sorts of stories are just heart-wrenching.

MUNRO:

Yes. It’s certainly a black day. Prime Minister thanks very much for your time we appreciate you joining us.

PRIME MINISTER:

OK. Thanks Mike.

END


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©2001 Commonwealth of Australia.