Browsing articles in "Interview Transcripts"
Jun 30, 2003

PM – Closure of Employment National

PM – Closure of Employment National

Monday 30 June 2003

MARK COLVIN: From the era of Menzies and Chifley onwards, the Commonwealth Government has helped unemployed Australians into jobs, but that ends today. Employment National, formerly known as the CES, the Commonwealth Employment Service is being wound up. From tomorrow, the Job Network will be a totally privatised entity.

The Opposition’s accusing the Government of abandoning the unemployed, and claiming it’s closing more job agencies than it’s keeping open.

Alexandra Kirk reports from Canberra.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Employment National closes its last 165 offices around the country today, marking the end of a tradition begun in 1946, with the creation of its precursor, the Commonwealth Employment Service. Employment Services Minister, Mal Brough says it’s a very positive day for both the nation and the unemployed, not a sad day.

MAL BROUGH: No, far from it. Today’s an exciting day for a new dawn in employment services, because as of tomorrow morning we’ll see some 20,000 additional jobs placed onto our electronic database, which will be accessed by Australia’s unemployed.

We will see the rollout of kiosks, electronic kiosks, which will give people the most up-to-date information right around Australia. And there will be some two and a half thousand organisations providing employment services where people live, in regional, rural Australia, as well as the suburbs.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But his opposite number, Labor’s Anthony Albanese thinks otherwise.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   Well, I think it is a sad day for Australia. It’s a sad day when the Government withdraws from Employment National and says that it’s not a core government responsibility to find people a job. If that’s not a core responsibility, then what is?

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Labor says withdrawing the Government’s direct role in placing unemployed people in jobs leaves a huge gap.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   If you have a for-profit system, it’s rational for these private providers to help those people who are easiest to get into a job. That is the way that they maximise their profit, and what that means is if you’re long-term unemployed, if you suffer from multiple disadvantage, then you’ll be left behind.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Minister Mal Brough asserts the latest job network tender is bigger and better.

MAL BROUGH: When you compare apples for apples, we have an expanded system with more money and greater services being provided to the unemployed.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But Labor says there are just 986 employment services outlets, not two-and-a-half thousand as the Minister claims.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   The Government is including organisations which are basically labour hire companies such as Manpower – they don’t provide assistance for the unemployed, that isn’t the role that they play, they’ve never been counted in the figures – and the Government knows that – in order to hide the fact that there are towns all around Australia that will be left without services as a result of these changes.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Mal Brough insists Employment National’s demise won’t leave the unemployed stranded.

MAL BROUGH: Well, I mean there’s obviously towns somewhere that don’t have services.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: That had them before?

MAL BROUGH: Well, I think you’d be very hard-pressed to find any. In fact, um, my challenge to the Labor Party is: if there is a location that they believe was receiving a service that today isn’t, and that should have one, then can they identify it and also tell us what they’re going to do about expanding the job network to put them there.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   Well, there’s up to a hundred towns that won’t have services. No matter where you look, whether it’s Borroloola in the Northern Territory, Finley and Warialda in regional New South Wales, Coolgardie in Western Australia, Kilcoy in Brisbane, Morgan in South Australia – the Government’s own figures – all you have to do is compare job network where there was an office and job network through where there’s not.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Not many may be mourning the passing of Employment National per se, but the welfare sector believes there is a role for a government agency in the job network as a safety net, and to set standards as a best practice model.

The Employment Minister says he can guarantee the unemployed won’t be worse off.

MAL BROUGH: And the fact is, the final closures today will not see any reduction in the services to any job network member, any unemployed person in Australia. Quite the contrary, they will be getting a better service from a wider range of operations.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So, will Labor, if it wins office re-regulate the job network?

An thony Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   We will be announcing our policy down the track. Today’s the day for looking at the changes that the Government have done. What we will be doing, is providing the sort of resources that we’ve provided in the past.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Does that include public sector involvement?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   Well, certainly the Labor Party platform argues that there should be a direct role for the public sector, and I’m certainly of that view. How that would be managed is something that we’re going to have to look at, because you can’t just reinvent the wheel, but I think there is a role, a direct role for the public sector in those issues.

MARK COLVIN: Labor’s Employment Services Spokesman, Anthony Albanese, speaking to Alexandra Kirk.

 

Jun 30, 2003

PM – Closure of Employment National

PM – Closure of Employment National

Monday 30 June 2003

MARK COLVIN: From the era of Menzies and Chifley onwards, the Commonwealth Government has helped unemployed Australians into jobs, but that ends today. Employment National, formerly known as the CES, the Commonwealth Employment Service is being wound up. From tomorrow, the Job Network will be a totally privatised entity.

The Opposition’s accusing the Government of abandoning the unemployed, and claiming it’s closing more job agencies than it’s keeping open.

Alexandra Kirk reports from Canberra.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Employment National closes its last 165 offices around the country today, marking the end of a tradition begun in 1946, with the creation of its precursor, the Commonwealth Employment Service. Employment Services Minister, Mal Brough says it’s a very positive day for both the nation and the unemployed, not a sad day.

MAL BROUGH: No, far from it. Today’s an exciting day for a new dawn in employment services, because as of tomorrow morning we’ll see some 20,000 additional jobs placed onto our electronic database, which will be accessed by Australia’s unemployed.

We will see the rollout of kiosks, electronic kiosks, which will give people the most up-to-date information right around Australia. And there will be some two and a half thousand organisations providing employment services where people live, in regional, rural Australia, as well as the suburbs.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But his opposite number, Labor’s Anthony Albanese thinks otherwise.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   Well, I think it is a sad day for Australia. It’s a sad day when the Government withdraws from Employment National and says that it’s not a core government responsibility to find people a job. If that’s not a core responsibility, then what is?

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Labor says withdrawing the Government’s direct role in placing unemployed people in jobs leaves a huge gap.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   If you have a for-profit system, it’s rational for these private providers to help those people who are easiest to get into a job. That is the way that they maximise their profit, and what that means is if you’re long-term unemployed, if you suffer from multiple disadvantage, then you’ll be left behind.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Minister Mal Brough asserts the latest job network tender is bigger and better.

MAL BROUGH: When you compare apples for apples, we have an expanded system with more money and greater services being provided to the unemployed.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But Labor says there are just 986 employment services outlets, not two-and-a-half thousand as the Minister claims.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   The Government is including organisations which are basically labour hire companies such as Manpower – they don’t provide assistance for the unemployed, that isn’t the role that they play, they’ve never been counted in the figures – and the Government knows that – in order to hide the fact that there are towns all around Australia that will be left without services as a result of these changes.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Mal Brough insists Employment National’s demise won’t leave the unemployed stranded.

MAL BROUGH: Well, I mean there’s obviously towns somewhere that don’t have services.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: That had them before?

MAL BROUGH: Well, I think you’d be very hard-pressed to find any. In fact, um, my challenge to the Labor Party is: if there is a location that they believe was receiving a service that today isn’t, and that should have one, then can they identify it and also tell us what they’re going to do about expanding the job network to put them there.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   Well, there’s up to a hundred towns that won’t have services. No matter where you look, whether it’s Borroloola in the Northern Territory, Finley and Warialda in regional New South Wales, Coolgardie in Western Australia, Kilcoy in Brisbane, Morgan in South Australia – the Government’s own figures – all you have to do is compare job network where there was an office and job network through where there’s not.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Not many may be mourning the passing of Employment National per se, but the welfare sector believes there is a role for a government agency in the job network as a safety net, and to set standards as a best practice model.

The Employment Minister says he can guarantee the unemployed won’t be worse off.

MAL BROUGH: And the fact is, the final closures today will not see any reduction in the services to any job network member, any unemployed person in Australia. Quite the contrary, they will be getting a better service from a wider range of operations.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So, will Labor, if it wins office re-regulate the job network?

An thony Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   We will be announcing our policy down the track. Today’s the day for looking at the changes that the Government have done. What we will be doing, is providing the sort of resources that we’ve provided in the past.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Does that include public sector involvement?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   Well, certainly the Labor Party platform argues that there should be a direct role for the public sector, and I’m certainly of that view. How that would be managed is something that we’re going to have to look at, because you can’t just reinvent the wheel, but I think there is a role, a direct role for the public sector in those issues.

MARK COLVIN: Labor’s Employment Services Spokesman, Anthony Albanese, speaking to Alexandra Kirk.

 

Jun 30, 2003

Transcript of Doorstop Interview: Employment National

TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP INTERVIEW:

Parliament House, Canberra

Employment National

30 June 2003

ALBANESE: Today sees the demise of fifty five years of the Commonwealth Government giving direct service to the unemployed. From today, Employment National will be closing its doors, what that means is 165 offices around the country shutting up shop. When the government introduced the Job Network …(it had ) Employment National as a public service in order to provide a safety net particularly in regional Australia where the private providers would not take up the offers of job contracts, yet tomorrow we see the Government reneging on yet another promise.

The close of Employment National is a part of changes to Job Network which will see 53% of offices closing around the country, moving from 2087 to 986. This is a government that is closing more offices than they are keeping open. Employment is an issue which is central to people’s living standards. There are currently more long termed unemployed in Australia than when John Howard came into office, almost four hundred thousand people. There are eight hundred thousand Australian children live in families where no-one has a job. We need to once again restate our priorities and Labor today, is stating our priorities with employment being a major issue on the Australian agenda.

As well, the government has known these changes have been coming for some time, but they still have not got Job Network up and running properly. Job Network Mark3 is supposed to herald a whole new era of new technology, and yet the new technology is not working. Last Wednesday, Minister Brough had to fax all CEOs of Job Network providers for an emergency meeting the following day, in Sydney, with video links to capital cities around the country. Because what is occurring is that the unemployed …………………. (pause in recording).

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

ALBANESE: With the new Job Network 3, the information technology system keeps crashing. What that means is that those people who have made tenders for job network, simply aren’t being sent the clients that they expected for the new contracts starting tomorrow. That means that many job network providers question whether they will be financially viable or not. But whether it is the closure of Employment National, the government is essentially saying that getting people into a job is not a core responsibility of government. Whether it be the closures and slashing of funding for Job Network, when Minister Brough proudly proclaimed in the Financial Review in March that two billion dollars had been cut from labor market programs over the last five years or whether it be the government’s incompetence in vowing to have Job Network 3 up and ready to run fully by July 1, this government is simply failing the unemployed and therefore failing Australia.

JOURNALIST: Would a Labor Government restore those offices, the directly funded offices?

ALBANESE: A Labor Government is committed to ensuring that employment service provision is given. In the Labor platform, adopted at the last National Conference, we are committed to there being a public service provider. We think that there is a role for government in people obtaining employment service provision. We also think there is a role for developing a much more cooperative approach and one that makes sure you don’t have a system whereby people are just falling off the end of the queue.

JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, would you have kept Employment National open?

ALBANESE: I think in terms of Employment National, there is a role. It’s the Government’s commitment that Employment National would be a competitor with both the private for profit sector and the not for profit sector. My real concern, and one thing that Labor would have done, is ensure that regional Australia, which is going to be left without many services, does have provision. At the moment the Government simply can’t answer the question. The Government’s response has been to say in spite of the figures we’ll distribute this morning which shows that (inaudible) the government’s own information the 986 sites. The Government now in a desperate attempt, Minister Brough’s is saying now, that labour hire companies such as Manpower will count as job providers. Yes, they get people into employment. Yes, they are used by the private sector essentially for casual employment. But there is a big difference, and I think most Australians know there is a big difference between whether it be Employment National or Mission Australia or another job network provider and someone who simply advertises jobs.

JOURNALIST: But Employment National was making a huge loss and being propped up by the taxpayer………surely…………………(inaudible)

ALBANESE: One of the things that Employment National was doing was being the safety net provider. The Government had released Employment National from areas of profit. It is not surprising that, if you run a system on profit, then unfortunately everyone in Australia isn’t just as able as everyone else to be got into employment. And one of the concerns that I have, is that it would be nice of the public sector provider, that in great slabs of regional Australia, particularly ones where there is large numbers of the indigenous community, they are left without any assistance whatsoever. That is one of the reasons why Employment National was making a loss. We don’t believe that there is no role for competition, we strongly support the role of private providers and not for profit providers. What we do say however is that people shouldn’t be left behind.

At the moment, the Government is establishing Job Network 3 from tomorrow, without even having a criteria for how the star rating system, how the performance of job network will be assessed. One of the things that we know is that they have established a committee to look into these issues, is the Government’s demanding that equity be taken out of consideration in relation to performance. If you take equity out, what you’ll be doing is writing off those people, many of whom have multiple disadvantage, given their ethnicity, given where they live, due to disabilities they might have. It is imperative that equity remain a consideration in judging how job network is performing.

What we’ve seen today with the demise of Employment National and the shutting of these other job network offices largely in regional Australia is what Labor predicted would come true. If you have a system that judges performance simply on the number of people being got into jobs, which is the logic of a totally for profit system then it makes common sense, and the providers have no other alternative but to assist those people into jobs thereby getting a payment, who least need assistance. If you have two people, and one person you’ve got to spend five hours to get them a job and another person who might have to get training or form of other assistance to get them into a job that might take 50 hours, then you will concentrate on getting those people who need least assistance. And that is what Labor believes needs to be addressed with the job network, that needs to be addressed in the criteria that hasn’t been worked out yet and we are calling upon the Government to finalise its performance criteria immediately so that there is certainty.

 

Jun 30, 2003

Employment national and job network 3

TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA, Monday June 30 2003

ISSUES: Employment National and Job Network 3

30 June 2003

ALBANESE: Today sees the demise of fifty five years of the Commonwealth Government giving direct service to the unemployed. From today, Employment National will be closing its doors, what that means is 165 offices around the country shutting up shop. When the government introduced the Job Network …(it had ) Employment National as a public service in order to provide a safety net particularly in regional Australia where the private providers would not take up the offers of job contracts, yet tomorrow we see the Government reneging on yet another promise.

The close of Employment National is a part of changes to Job Network which will see 53% of offices closing around the country, moving from 2087 to 986. This is a government that is closing more offices than they are keeping open. Employment is an issue which is central to people’s living standards. There are currently more long termed unemployed in Australia than when John Howard came into office, almost four hundred thousand people. There are eight hundred thousand Australian children live in families where no-one has a job. We need to once again restate our priorities and Labor today, is stating our priorities with employment being a major issue on the Australian agenda.

As well, the government has known these changes have been coming for some time, but they still have not got Job Network up and running properly. Job Network Mark3 is supposed to herald a whole new era of new technology, and yet the new technology is not working. Last Wednesday, Minister Brough had to fax all CEOs of Job Network providers for an emergency meeting the following day, in Sydney, with video links to capital cities around the country. Because what is occurring is that the unemployed …………………. (pause in recording).

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

ALBANESE: With the new Job Network 3, the information technology system keeps crashing. What that means is that those people who have made tenders for job network, simply aren’t being sent the clients that they expected for the new contracts starting tomorrow. That means that many job network providers question whether they will be financially viable or not. But whether it is the closure of Employment National, the government is essentially saying that getting people into a job is not a core responsibility of government. Whether it be the closures and ..continue

slashing of funding for Job Network, when Minister Brough proudly proclaimed in the Financial Review in March that two billion dollars had been cut from labor market programs over the last five years or whether it be the government’s incompetence in vowing to have Job Network 3 up and ready to run fully by July 1, this government is simply failing the unemployed and therefore failing Australia.

JOURNALIST: Would a Labor Government restore those offices, the directly funded offices?

ALBANESE: A Labor Government is committed to ensuring that employment service provision is given. In the Labor platform, adopted at the last National Conference, we are committed to there being a public service provider. We think that there is a role for government in people obtaining employment service provision. We also think there is a role for developing a much more cooperative approach and one that makes sure you don’t have a system whereby people are just falling off the end of the queue.

JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, would you have kept Employment National open?

ALBANESE: I think in terms of Employment National, there is a role. It’s the Government’s commitment that Employment National would be a competitor with both the private for profit sector and the not for profit sector. My real concern, and one thing that Labor would have done, is ensure that regional Australia, which is going to be left without many services, does have provision. At the moment the Government simply can’t answer the question. The Government’s response has been to say in spite of the figures we’ll distribute this morning which shows that (inaudible) the government’s own information the 986 sites. The Government now in a desperate attempt, Minister Brough’s is saying now, that labour hire companies such as Manpower will count as job providers. Yes, they get people into employment. Yes, they are used by the private sector essentially for casual employment. But there is a big difference, and I think most Australians know there is a big difference between whether it be Employment National or Mission Australia or another job network provider and someone who simply advertises jobs.

JOURNALIST: But Employment National was making a huge loss and being propped up by the taxpayer………surely…………………(inaudible)

ALBANESE: One of the things that Employment National was doing was Being the safety net provider. The Government had released Employment National from areas of profit. It is not surprising that, if you run a system on profit, then unfortunately everyone in Australia isn’t just as able as everyone else to be got into employment. And one of the concerns that I have, is that it would be nice of the public sector provider, that in great slabs of regional Australia, particularly ones where there is large numbers of the indigenous community, they are left without any assistance whatsoever. That is one of the reasons why Employment National was making a loss. We don’t believe that there is no role for competition, we strongly support the role of private providers and not for profit providers. What we do say however is that people shouldn’t be left behind.

At the moment, the Government is establishing Job Network 3 from tomorrow, without even having a criteria for how the star rating system, how the performance of job network will be assessed. One of the things that we know is that they have established a committee to look into these issues, is the Government’s demanding that equity be taken out of consideration in relation to performance. If you take equity out, what you’ll be doing is writing off those people, many of whom have multiple disadvantage, given their ethnicity, given where they live, due to disabilities they might have. It is imperative that equity remain a consideration in judging how job network is performing.

What we’ve seen today with the demise of Employment National and the shutting of these other job network offices largely in regional Australia is what Labor predicted would come true. If you have a system that judges performance simply on the number of people being got into jobs, which is the logic of a totally for profit system then it makes common sense, and the providers have no other alternative but to assist those people into jobs thereby getting a payment, who least need assistance. If you have two people, and one person you’ve got to spend five hours to get them a job and another person who might have to get training or form of other assistance to get them into a job that might take 50 hours, then you will concentrate on getting those people who need least assistance. And that is what Labor believes needs to be addressed with the job network, that needs to be addressed in the criteria that hasn’t been worked out yet and we are calling upon the Government to finalise its performance criteria immediately so that there is certainty.

 

 

Jun 29, 2003

Insiders – Adjournment Debate – Job network office closures

Insiders – Adjournment Debate – Job network office closures

Sunday 29 June 2003

ANTHONY ALBANESE, MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER, NSW (ALP):

From July 1 the Government’s closing 53 per cent of job network offices. What this means is that those whose job was to find their fellow Australians a job will find themselves on the other side of the counter. The Government’s agency, Employment National, is shutting up shop completely.

For hundreds of their dedicated employees, they’ll find themselves out the door. But get this, if they find another job this month, they loose their compulsory redundancy payout. What sort of a government is it that provides a financial incentive to people to find themselves on the unemployment queue? The mob that’s closing more job network offices than it’s keeping open is now introducing the world’s first-ever work-to-welfare program.

It’s a national disgrace. I’m Anthony Albanese.

Jun 29, 2003

Insiders – Adjournment Debate – Job network office closures

Insiders – Adjournment Debate – Job network office closures

Sunday 29 June 2003

ANTHONY ALBANESE, MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER, NSW (ALP):

From July 1 the Government’s closing 53 per cent of job network offices. What this means is that those whose job was to find their fellow Australians a job will find themselves on the other side of the counter. The Government’s agency, Employment National, is shutting up shop completely.

For hundreds of their dedicated employees, they’ll find themselves out the door. But get this, if they find another job this month, they loose their compulsory redundancy payout. What sort of a government is it that provides a financial incentive to people to find themselves on the unemployment queue? The mob that’s closing more job network offices than it’s keeping open is now introducing the world’s first-ever work-to-welfare program.

It’s a national disgrace. I’m Anthony Albanese.

May 11, 2003

Insiders – The Adjournment Debate – Governor-General

Insiders – The Adjournment debate: the Governor General

Sunday 11 May 2003

ANTHONY ALBANESE, MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER, NSW, (ALP):

Insensitive, unsympathetic, unfair, uncompassionate and untenable. No, we’re not talking about John Howard’s plans to gut Medicare. These are direct quotes from an independent inquiry into the handling of child sexual abuse cases by our Governor-General whilst Archbishop of Brisbane.

Sexual abuse is about power, and it is up to people in positions of authority to treat it for the criminal behaviour that it is. No ifs and no buts. Would you have allowed convicted paedophile John Elliott to remain in a position where he could have direct contact with children?

Our head of State must be a unifying figure who all Australians can respect and trust. This view of Sydney Harbour is pretty hard to give up. But most Australians know that the G-G just has to go, go. I’m Anthony Albanese.

May 11, 2003

Insiders – The Adjournment Debate – Governor-General

Insiders – The Adjournment debate: the Governor General

Sunday 11 May 2003

ANTHONY ALBANESE, MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER, NSW, (ALP):

Insensitive, unsympathetic, unfair, uncompassionate and untenable. No, we’re not talking about John Howard’s plans to gut Medicare. These are direct quotes from an independent inquiry into the handling of child sexual abuse cases by our Governor-General whilst Archbishop of Brisbane.

Sexual abuse is about power, and it is up to people in positions of authority to treat it for the criminal behaviour that it is. No ifs and no buts. Would you have allowed convicted paedophile John Elliott to remain in a position where he could have direct contact with children?

Our head of State must be a unifying figure who all Australians can respect and trust. This view of Sydney Harbour is pretty hard to give up. But most Australians know that the G-G just has to go, go. I’m Anthony Albanese.

May 3, 2003

Interview Transcripts

[macro:showTopSpeeches(20)]

Mar 20, 2003

7.30 Report – Iraq War

7.30 Report – Iraq War

Thursday 20 March 2003

KERRY O’BRIEN: Welcome to this special edition of the 7:30 Report on the day the US-led coalition forces opened fire on Baghdad — a very specific, opportunistic attack, to use the terminology, to try to eliminate Saddam Hussein and key associates.

And, with that the war that so much diplomatic energy had tried to stop, was under way.

Tonight we’ll take you to as many corners of the developing campaign as we possibly can.

US correspondent Jill Colgan shortly, on the hours leading to the attack.

The Australian’s Ian McPhedran, one of the few remaining reporters on the ground in Baghdad, will bring us his account.

Mark Bannerman will explain the way the high-tech air arsenal will do its deadly job over Iraq.

And, from Israel, Geoff Hutchison will look back at Gulf War I and assess Israel’s risky place in Gulf War II.

Importantly, our war panel of experts, three of the best military minds in this country, will map the path of this war.

With me in Sydney, former special forces commander Brigadier Jim Wallace.

Jim, were you surprised by this first response in this war, the first shot?

BRIGADIER JIM WALLACE (RET), FORMER SPECIAL FORCES COMMANDER: I think we were all surprised by it, but nonetheless I’m encouraged by it because to me it shows that the Americans are seeing the centre of gravity, that thing that if they get it, everything else will fall apart.

It’s not necessarily Baghdad, which might take lots of casualties, but Saddam Hussein’s inner circle themselves, and they can be got cheaply.

KERRY O’BRIEN: In Canberra, the nation’s leading independent strategic analyst, Hugh White.

Hugh, your immediate reaction when you got the news?

HUGH WHITE, AUSTRALIAN STRATEGIC POLICY INSTITUTE: Well, Kerry, I thought if they’ve got Saddam Hussein in the cross hairs it’s irresistible to go for him.

And if they have got him it’ll be a triumphant beginning to the campaign.

If they haven’t got him then I think it’s going to look like a little bit of a false start.

KERRY O’BRIEN: And alongside Hugh in Canberra, former air commander and recently retired air vice-marshall Peter Nicholson.

Peter?

PETER NICHOLSON, FORMER AIR VICE-MARSHAL: One of the failings of the first Gulf War was the lack of human intelligence.

The fact that this strike was targeted specifically against members of the regime, the strategic leadership, as Jim says, the centre of gravity, indicates that that failing may have been largely corrected.

KERRY O’BRIEN: This panel’s perspective in full later.

But first, to Canberra, on the day Australia went to war.

You’ve just seen the PM’s Address to the Nation.

He sees it as a war to defend Australia from the interlocking future threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

Labor’s view: an unjust war, Australia’s first as the aggressor.

I’m joined first now by political editor Fran Kelly.

Fran, what was your sense, what do you think was the mood, the sense, the feel of the PM’s Address to the Nation?

FRAN KELLY: Well, the PM’s address was … tried to be reassuring.

He went through one by one the arguments that have been made against the Government’s case for war.

He tried to counter the legality, the morality, pitch in the humanitarian argument, and also on the grounds that … the big argument that seems to be concerning a lot of Australians, which is that being involved in this war will make Australia a bigger target.

John Howard went straight to that.

But one key new argument we heard here tonight, Kerry, the PM tried to relate this back to terrorism, because that’s how Australia relates to it, is that we need to be there alongside our allies, Britain and the US, because they are key in our fight against terrorism because of the intelligence sharing we have with them, which is priceless.

I think that’s the first time we’ve heard that from the PM.

KERRY O’BRIEN: The events of today were certainly outside the control of Simon Crean, but it seemed a rather hapless day, because of that, in the way it felt.

I don’t know if that was a portent of the difficulties he faces over the next few days as the war unfolds?

FRAN KELLY: Well he is having trouble.

Yes, it was bad timing.

He had given his Press Club speech, and just as he got to the last question, the news that the bombs had dropped came, so, in a sense, the argument had shifted, the ground had shifted immediately in the day.

But Simon Crean is having trouble laying punches, I think, in this debate.

He is anti-war.

So is a lot of the population.

It shouldn’t be that hard for him.

It’s hard to understand, for instance, why Labor and the Labor Leader didn’t ask John Howard every question in Question Time today on a day like this, put him under pressure about the issue of why Australia is acting as an aggressor with only four other military forces in this war.

But there was none of that.

It seems like Labor is just hesitating slightly.

Their big argument is the troops should be brought home, yet they support the troops.

Also I think the argument that the troops should be brought home right now when the war has started, when most people don’t expect it to be a particularly long war, is perhaps not going to be the most potent argument you could find.

KERRY O’BRIEN: And the mood of the parliamentarians?

FRAN KELLY: The mood of the Parliament was sombre.

But it was a very strange day today, Kerry.

You would think it would have been a day of great moment in the Parliament, a day when Australia goes to war against another country, and yet there was no big speech from the PM in the Parliament during Question Time today, and I sense the backbenchers didn’t like that much, they were disappointed.

The backbenchers themselves were sombre when they headed back to their electorates.

They were concerned about bombs dropping on Baghdad, though, of course, they still didn’t cross party lines.

KERRY O’BRIEN: OK, Fran, thanks for that.

CATHERINE KING, LABOR BACKBENCHER It certainly makes it far more real, even though it’s on television.

I think certainly today we’re all pretty shocked.

BRUCE BAIRD, LIBERAL BACKBENCHER: I think most people’s view is that the quicker the war is on and over, the better we’ll all be for it.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, LABOR FRONTBENCHER:

What we have to remember is that this isn’t a video.

It’s not a movie.

It’s real.

What the lights in the sky represent is the death of Iraqi civilians, something for which I think Australia is taking part much to our shame.

IAN CAUSLEY, NATIONAL PARTY BACKBENCHER: I think I’ve seen it all before, and war is never a pretty sight, but unfortunately if you don’t rise up against despots, then they’ll take over you.

DAVID JULL, LIBERAL BACKBENCHER: I think Australia will be judged very well in history.

It’s one of the few countries that were prepared to stand up to this creature.

MARIA VAMVAKINOU, LABOR BACKBENCHER: I think our reputation has been tarnished.

It stands to be tarnished.

If the whole thing unravels in a nasty way, then there will be ramifications for us.

So no, it’s not a great day for Australia, not at all.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Very briefly, Fran, what does a PM and a Government do in a war?

FRAN KELLY: The PM stays put in Canberra, in the national capital.

His national security committee of Cabinet will meet here tomorrow in Canberra.

Beyond that, they’re playing it by ear.

But John Howard is by the phone and expecting some contact with Washington over the coming days.

 

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: [email protected]

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