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Australia
Prime Minister John Howard
Doorstop Press Conference
Sydney, Australia
September 22, 2001

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER:

It was an impressive and compelling speech. I sent him a message expressing Australia’s 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.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard (inaudible) Australia’s forces to participate in this situation?

PRIME MINISTER:

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 it’s pure speculation as to what it might be and obviously if we decide to contribute then I’ll have something further to say about the character of that contribution.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER:

I’m sorry…

JOURNALIST:

What does it mean that we’d resume military contact with Pakistan.

PRIME MINISTER:

What it means is that the previous prohibition has been lifted. It doesn’t mean a great deal in practice but symbolically it’s an expression of a greater understanding of Pakistan’s position and it’s not going to mean a great deal in practice.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister the fire at the mosque in Brisbane, what is your reaction to that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I’m horrified. If it’s 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.

JOURNALIST:

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?

PRIME MINISTER:

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, it’s 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 we’ve 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.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard, the Ansett as we know it now, is it over?

PRIME MINISTER:

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 doesn’t 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 there’s a responsibility on both Qantas and the administrator and I’m asking both of them to try harder to resolve their current difficulties so those airbuses can be flying as soon as possible.

Thank you.

END


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©2001 Commonwealth of Australia.