Prime Minister John Howard
Interview with Mike Munro on A Current Affair, Network Nine
September 12, 2001
Prime Minister thanks for your time and thanks for joining us so late at night.
We cant speak to you on camera because of security reasons, are you able
to say where you are?
Im in Washington. Im fine. Im far more concerned about the
terrible loss of life and the terrible assault on the American people in whats
happened today. And it really has been an extraordinary moment in the history
of this country and people should understand that its very much an attack
not just on America, but its an attack on a way of life that we in Australia
share in common with the Americans and many other people around the world.
What do you think this will mean to the worlds outlook on terrorism in
the future 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.
Prime Minister you were in your hotel room when the first plane crashed into
the World Trade Centre. Is that right?
Yes I was.
Can you take us through that, those next few moments?
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.
Have you heard any confirmation of those reports at this stage?
Not confirmation but I do know quite a number are unaccounted for. Its
just too early to say at this stage. I just dont know. Nobody knows. And
now as I speak to you from Washington tonight they still havent established,
with any degree of accuracy, the death toll.
And you were actually at the Pentagon less than 24 hours before. True?
Yes I was.
How serious are you taking this in relation to a possible attack on Australia
- terrorism on Australia?
Theres 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 cant assume that.
On a more personal note, Mrs Howard is with you, how did this affect you both?
Well we feel for the people concerned. We grieve for the people whove
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 theyve been hijacked. Those sorts of stories
are just heart-wrenching.
Yes. Its certainly a black day. Prime Minister thanks very much for your
time we appreciate you joining us.