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Transcript
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

Interview with Steve Price on 2UE
Thursday, 23 October 2003

Subject: President Bush's Visit


Steve Price:
Sadly what's happened, of course, are the interjection from those two Green senators which have been completely ridiculous, have overshadowed what has otherwise been an important day. We thought it important to find out what both sides of the House thought today of the speech by George Bush and, indeed, the speech by their own leaders.

Joining us first on the line is the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp. Thanks for your time.

David Kemp:
Good afternoon, Steve, good to be with you.

Steve Price:
How did you feel sitting there on the front bench today listening to a US President in the Australian Parliament?

David Kemp:
I felt very proud at the recognition of Australia's place in the world. The fact that we've got both the President of the United States here and the President of China is quite a recognition that Australia is a country in the world that people take seriously and have respect for.

Steve Price:
The relationship between the Prime Minister John Howard and the President is obviously a really very strong one.

David Kemp:
It is. I noticed that at his press conference President Bush said that he regards the Prime Minister as a close friend and clearly they do get on very well. They're on the same wavelength. They're both very principled people with strong values. They're both very good-humoured and clearly the relationship is a very positive one that I think will be a benefit to both of us.

Steve Price:
And all Australians, having listened to that speech which obviously was dominated by discussion of the war against terrorism but also about the history of Australian and American involvement in conflict across the years, I mean, Australians are proud that they've been involved, I think, in conflict with Americans and have stepped up every time we've been asked.

David Kemp:
I believe they are because we are two great democratic countries and the democratic cause and the freedom of peoples who have lived under tyranny, the right of people to live their lives in a decent way, those are always the values that both our countries have stood up for and I must say I get shocked when I hear people spending their time attacking the democratic countries who are trying to make the world a better place and seemingly letting off the hook people who are tyrants and oppressors.

Steve Price:
What did you make of the interjections? Could you hear, for a start, what either Brown or Nettle said?

David Kemp:
It wasn't easy to hear because the microphones were turned off. They didn't have the floor, they didn't have any right to say something. I thought it was very inappropriate, it was very discourteous. I think a lot of Australians would be ashamed that the leader of the great democracy that we regard as a friend was treated in that way by a member of the Australian Parliament but, of course, it was directed to the small group of people on the extreme left and I'd have to say, Steve, I think this is a low point for the left in Australian history. The left used to stand up for human rights and now the leaders of the left in Australia, like Bob Brown, seem to spend their time attacking those who are trying to protect the rights of other people.

Steve Price:
Are you happy that they have - are you aware that they have been told that they can't be there tomorrow when President Hu speaks?

David Kemp:
Yes, when the President left the chamber the Speaker then named the senators Brown and Nettle and the resolution was then moved that they should be excluded from the chamber and carried and, in fact, the Labor Party, I noted, did not dissent from that or require a division. And so they have no right to be in the chamber tomorrow.

Steve Price:
Thanks for your time, nice to talk to you again.

David Kemp:
Very good to speak to you, Steve.

Steve Price:
Dr David Kemp, Minister for the Environment and Heritage.

**ENDS**

Commonwealth of Australia