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Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2001-2004

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP



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

Doorstop interview
Tuesday, 13 July 2004

Dr Kemp withdraws candidacy for the Federal electorate of Goldstein

Dr David Kemp: Thank you for coming to this press conference this morning. As you know, I'm announcing this morning that I'm withdrawing from the candidacy for the federal electorate of Goldstein.

I'll be continuing in the portfolio, of course, and working very hard for the return of the Howard Government at the election, whenever the election happens to be called.

There's no political agenda behind this announcement. It's purely for personal family reasons. I've had great support from my family over the years. It's been 15 years now since my preselection.

My wife, Anne-Marie, has given me tremendous support throughout that time. I'm still fortunate to have a younger family. I've got a 12-year-old son and a son doing VCE this year. They've been very supportive as well. But I've come to the conclusion that it just isn't fair to ask them to give another three years to supporting me in the difficult circumstances of politics.

So I've decided to not to stand for Goldstein in the election campaign and to invite the electorate to find another candidate.

Question: Are you sad to make that decision?

Kemp: Well, it's not an easy decision to take. I've spent a lot of my life in politics and I've seen politics as being a very important and honourable activity and I've valued greatly the opportunity to take part in Australia's political life.

So it's not an easy decision. But the most important thing in anyone's life is one's family and my family has been absolutely tremendous through this period and I feel that I should spend more time with them over the years ahead.

Question: Is it something you've been considering for some time?

Kemp: Well, naturally I've been looking at the effect of politics on the family and weighing that up. But I only reached this decision last Sunday and I told the Prime Minister immediately after the Cabinet meeting yesterday.

He said that he was sorry I was going. But he understood the importance of family. He's a great family man himself and he understood that I had a young family, so he was very understanding.

Question: ...[Indistinct -- off-microphone]...

Kemp: [Laughs] I don't endorse anyone, of course. It's entirely up to others to make a decision about whether they stand as a candidate or not for the electorate and that's something that will be worked through the ordinary processes of the Liberal Party.

Question: Have you given the Party enough time to find a candidate?

Kemp: I believe so. The election is going to be some time away still, I expect. I haven't been one of those who have thought we would go to an election at the earliest possible moment. There's time for the Party to go through the appropriate processes and for people in Goldstein to have the chance to make a considered judgment.

Question: How do you consider the Government's chances of being re-elected?

Kemp: Well, I'm certainly very hopeful that the Government will be re-elected. It's been an outstanding government, in my view. The country is in an excellent condition because of the very good economic management of the Government and because of the very strong social policies of the Government.

Obviously the Australian people will weigh up the choices before them. But I'll certainly be working as hard as I possibly can to secure the return of the Government. And, of course, in my own portfolio, to get across the message that the Howard Government has the strongest environmental record of any government in Australia's history and that record is one that continues to strengthen week by week.

We've seen the wonderful decisions on the National Water Initiative and on the Living Murray. We have just had commencing on the 1 st of July the rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef, which makes it the world's largest area of marine protected zones. We've just had here in Melbourne, the Royal Exhibition Building is the first building in Australia ascribed on the World Heritage Register.

And we've just had the environment and energy statement, which puts Australia in a very strong position in relation to climate change.

So there's a very strong environmental record there and I'm looking forward to selling that in the run-up to the election.

Question: What do you see as your great achievement during your period in Parliament?

Kemp: Well, I'm not leaving politics at the moment, so in a sense it's premature to reflect on these matters. I'm particularly proud of the literacy decisions that we've taken, the first national standards for literacy and numeracy, really putting literacy on the national agenda. I'm very proud of that.

I'm very proud of Work for the Dole, which I had the responsibility for designing and getting legislation through the Parliament.

I'm very proud of the new apprenticeship system which I designed. This has opened up opportunities for tens of thousands of young people to get the skills they want.

So these are all matters that I'm very proud of in the education area. And, of course, in the environment area, I'm particularly proud of the decisions that I've just recently referred to.

Question: Minister, you've said you wanted to spend more time with your family. What else will life after politics hold for you? What will you do?

Kemp: Well, it is premature to reflect on that. There's still a lot of work to be done in the run-up to the election campaign and I'll be really focusing my attention on getting the Howard Government returned.

Question: Got any ideas?

Kemp: I've got some private ideas, but I think this is not the time to share those. I'll consider those at a later time.

Question: How difficult will this election be for the Coalition to win, given that it's going for the fourth term?

Kemp: Well, elections, particularly the third and fourth elections, are always difficult elections to win. Because people are naturally looking around. They're looking at a long record and they're looking at alternatives.

So the Coalition is under no illusions that this is a hard fight. But, equally, it's not only got a good record, but it has a very strong vision for the future and I believe the Australian people will give credit for that.

Thank you very much.

Commonwealth of Australia