The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Peter Costello

Peter Costello

Treasurer

11 March 1996 - 3 December 2007

Transcript of 25/11/2005

THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

and

SENATOR THE HON KAY PATTERSON
Minister for Family and Community Services
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues

Doorstop Interview

Melbourne Museum, Carlton
Friday 25 November 2005
8.15 am

SUBJECTS: White Ribbon Day; Van Nguyen; Victorian Liberal Party

TREASURER:

Well today is White Ribbon Day. It is a day when all of Australia says no to violence against women. Women need partners, husbands, brothers, sisters, neighbours, friends to assist them in making it clear that violence is not a part of Australian life. It does not have to been accepted. It will not be accepted, and clearly and unambiguously people in positions of leadership should make that point. There are still too many women in Australia who suffer from domestic violence, or violence in one form or another. And they need the community as a whole to come out and say, violence is not acceptable. It will not be tolerated, and the Australian government has a programme to say ‘no’ to violence against women, an advertising campaign, and to engage local community groups to give that clear statement that violence is not an acceptable. Violence is not part of the Australia way. Violence will not be tolerated and those people who are suffering from it should feel free to come forward and to report it, and to seek relief from it.

MINISTER:

White Ribbon Day was initiated by men in Canada. It is a very special day, it is an international day, and as Peter Costello has said, a day when we all commit, both men and women to the cause of preventing violence against women. I want to say how much I appreciate Peter Costello being here as a senior figure in Australia, supporting the day. We have footballers, defence force personnel, police, and a range of business people all here today saying that violence against women - Australia says ‘no’. It is a very important message. It is a message that we should continually say that violence of any form is totally unacceptable.

JOURNALIST:

Why is it particularly important that the initiative was started by men?

MINISTER:

I think it is important to say that men are saying that they are concerned about their daughters, concerned about their sisters, their wives, other people who may be subjected to violence by other men, and I think it is important that men are standing up and saying, violence is not acceptable.

JOURNALIST:

Angela is an extraordinary person, isn’t she? The fact that she has the courage to come here today.

MINISTER:

Angela has been amazing. Angela is a young woman who was abused in a park by her partner when she was sixteen. She is now physically disabled, unable to speak, and she has participated in a DVD that we have put around to every school, Victorian police are now using it, the police in the southern part of New South Wales are using the DVD, and she and her parents go around telling people about the outcome of violence, and she is a very special young woman.

JOURNALIST:

Can I ask you just in relation to Van Nguyen, the Attorney-General Rob Hulls going over, do you think it is a futile exercise at this stage?

TREASURER:

Look, every person of goodwill will make their contribution in their own way, and the fact that the Victorian Government sent someone to Singapore is welcome. Unfortunately, I think that the Singaporean Government has made its decision, and we in the Australian Government have lobbied at every level, President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, right up and down the Government of Singapore. It has not borne fruit unfortunately for Mr Van Nguyen, but every effort is worthwhile, no stone has been left unturned, and the question now resides fairly and squarely with the Singaporean Government.

JOURNALIST:

Seeing Mrs Nguyen though, having her hopes constantly dashed, is it almost cruel to give her any hope at this stage?

TREASURER:

Look I think everything that can be done should be done. I know at the Federal Government level we have done everything. I can say that there are no steps that have been left untried. Of course my heart goes out to the mother, this is a terrible time for her, but I can assure her that every effort has been made, and they will continue whilst there is any chance, representations will continue, and pleas for clemency are being made repeatedly. We have to face reality though. The reality is this, Singapore is a sovereign country, it makes its own law, it enforces its own law. And if a sovereign country does not want to change its policy, there is very little you can do about it.

JOURNALIST:

Have you a message for that family?

TREASURER:

The message for the family is that this is terrible ordeal that they are going through. That Australians feel for them, and that the Australian Government has left no stone unturned in its plea for clemency.

JOURNALIST:

The Age published a poll today that showed Robert Doyle’s approval rating has dropped. Do you still back him as leader of the Liberal Party of Victoria?

TREASURER:

Well as I said yesterday, Robert is the elected leader of the Liberal Party in Victoria. If there is another member of the party who thinks he or she can do a better job, they can nominate, and if they do nominate and if they are elected, they can lead the party. But as I understand it there is nobody else that wants to nominate for leader. That being the case I would advise all of the members to throw their support behind Robert, because as a team they will do much better than if they are divided, and I think the people of Victoria want the opportunity to see alternative government and it is up to the Liberal Party to give them the opportunity.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think (inaudible) learn from experience?

TREASURER:

Look in political life you know there are a couple of iron rules. One of the iron rules is this, that where you work together you generally do better, than when you do not. It is a bit like sport.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think the fate of the Liberal Party in the next State election is already sealed?

TREASURER:

No, no. The next election in Victoria is in 2006, I just have to get my dates right here. The next election here in the State of Victoria is 2006. Any Victorian Liberal who believes that that election is not worth winning, or can not be won, ought not to run at the next election. Now I do not want to read in the paper people saying, ‘oh, we will wait until we lose the next election’. Work on winning the next election is what I say to them. No defeatism, no concession. The people of Victoria are looking to you to provide an alternative government, and comments that the election can not be won, or they will wait and see when it is not won, frankly are lazy, those comments do not do justice to the Liberal Party, and they do not do justice to the membership of the Liberal Party, and they let down the people of Victoria. I do not want to hear those sorts comments please. On behalf of the Liberal Party they expect their members to be running to win. And the people of Victoria expect the Liberal Party to be running to form an alternative government.

JOURNALIST:

Back to (inaudible) Mr Nguyen, Amnesty International …

TREASURER:

Just two last questions. One here and one there.

JOURNALIST:

… been critical that the Australian Government fought for the death penalty in some situations, like the Bali bomber, and not in others …

TREASURER:

Who says that sorry?

JOURNALIST:

Amnesty International, (inaudible) like Van Nguyen. Can you see Australia changing its stance on the death penalty, do you think, after this situation?

TREASURER:

No Australia does not practice the death penalty. No State in Australia practices the death penalty, and the Federal Government does not support the death penalty. But you have got to understand this point, other countries have their own legal systems, and when you are in other countries, you become subject to their legal system. Australia does not run the legal system of Singapore, it does not run the legal system in Bali. These are sovereign countries, they decide what to do in their countries, just as we would not run our criminal system on the advice and the direction of a foreign country. These countries do not run their legal system on the advice and direction of Australia. People have got to understand this. Here is a message for tourists. When you go into Singapore you are not under Australian law, you are under Singapore law. Do not run drugs, and do not run them in Australia by the way, either. Do not run them in Singapore, and if you run drugs in Singapore, you are under Singaporean law, other than the Australian Government making representations, you are in within the province of the law, and the imprisonment system of that foreign country. Sorry, last question.

JOURNALIST:

Gough Whitlam has come out today and actually criticised quite harshly the laws of Singapore, do you think that comments by a former Prime Minister helps the situation at all?

TREASURER:

Well you have got to remember that at the end of the day Singapore is a sovereign country. It makes its own decisions, it enforces its own laws. We can put representations to them. We can try and persuade them, that is what we are doing, but threatening Singapore in my opinion, is unlikely to have more effect, than trying to persuade it. And I think appeals and persuasion, I think representations are going to be more likely to have effect if any effect is going to be had than threats.

Thank you.