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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

TRANSCRIPT: DOORSTOP INTERVIEW AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL LIBRARY


11.45am August 10, 1999

Journalist:
How significant is this project to Australia's national history, a sense of identity Minister?

Senator Robert Hill:
Oh well, it was 1770, the first sighting of Australia by Cook. The identification with his vessel the Endeavour I think is a very important part of Australia's history and our history makes us in many ways and this is an exciting project now that the wreck has been discovered, we believe, in Newport Harbour, the opportunity to verify that and to fill in another piece of the jigsaw of Australia's history is very important.

Journalist:
What's the likelihood it could be raised and would we also contribute to the funding for that?

Senator Robert Hill:
Well there are questions of ownership and I understand the records are now being examined by the British, but apart from ownership, I think there's also questions as to whether the people would think it's the right thing to do. I think attitudes have changed somewhat over the years to raising shipwrecks and there'll be many Australian's and others who I think would probably say it should rest where it was originally scuttled, -perhaps with some materials brought back that are on the sea floor that can be part of an ongoing record at the Maritime Museum in Sydney or elsewhere.

Journalist:
On another question of National identity, the revised referendum question on the republic, will it give November's vote a better chance to carry a yes vote?

Senator Robert Hill:
I don't know the answer to that but I think that the question is a good compromise. As a republican somebody who is hoping that an Australian will be elected as our first President not in the too distant future. I think it's a fair question to put to the Australian people in this form and I trust that it will be approved by the Senate.

Journalist:
Minister, just on the Endeavour. Do the other players, do you think the other players in this particular issue are aware of the special significance the Endeavour does have to Australia and therefore we might expect some sort of latitude from those who might otherwise put claims on the vessel?

Senator Robert Hill:
Well I understand the cooperation has been very good with the British and with the United States and between the various Maritime Archaeologists and the Rhode Island people have been working closely with the Australian people we've met here today that are going off on the mission tomorrow. The fact that they've been invited to participate in it is a good sign. I don't really see an issue of rivalry in that regard. It's rather a demonstration of cooperation at this time. The next step is to confirm in fact that it is the vessel we believe it to be and then no doubt the interested parties will talk about the future and the future will take care of itself. The next step is to confirm its identity and that's what this mission is all about.

Journalist:
Are you planning to follow Nick Minchin's lead and use your electoral staff in South Australia to hand out how to vote cards and carry out other activities (during the republican campaign)

Senator Robert Hill:
What my staff do as individuals is up to them. I have no intention of directing any staff in any direction. It's their business.

Journalist:
Is that an acceptable thing for Senator Minchin to do? To direct his staff to do that?

Senator Robert Hill:
That's up to him. You should speak to him about that.

Journalist:
And using tax payer funds in that regard?

Senator Robert Hill:
Well you have a talk to him.

Journalist:
I have. I am asking whether you ..... follow his .....

Senator Robert Hill:
Well I'm declining to answer. I'm suggesting respectfully that you talk to him about that matter rather then me.

Journalist:
Are you confident the Senate won't move to amend the revised questions?

Senator Robert Hill:
No they might. But I can't see it. I don't anticipate that we would move further. I'm a republican and I think it's a fair compromise. I think it's a good question to put to the Australian people. It makes clear that the Queen and the Governor General will go as part of our reform and that we will have an elected President appointed by the Parliament. The key features are there before the Australian people to make a decision and the decision is theirs.

Commonwealth of Australia