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BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW
JOHN HOWARD AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER JULY 9TH, 2000

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST
Australia has come a long way in 100 years, now the country's about to host the Olympics, has a major peace-keeping role in the South Pacific and is a significant economic power. The Prime Minister, John Howard, chose to come to the old country to celebrate a century of self-government for the former colony, he's here with us right now, John, good morning.

JOHN HOWARD
Good morning David.

DAVID FROST
And following straight on from what we were hearing there, of course the men's singles final features an Australian, a proud Australian, Pat Rafter, are you, are you going to go and see it?

JOHN HOWARD
I think I'll go home via Wimbledon, yes.

DAVID FROST
Yes, it's sort on the way to the airport.

JOHN HOWARD
It is, yes and Pat is a great player, he had a great win over Agassi.

DAVID FROST
That was a great match.

JOHN HOWARD
There'll be millions of Australians back home and all around the world barracking for him.

DAVID FROST
I remember times when I've been in Australia when Wimbledon's on, it'll be, what¿

JOHN HOWARD
Nine hours¿

DAVID FROST
On court about 11 o'clock your time?

JOHN HOWARD
About 11 o'clock to midnight.

DAVID FROST
And assuming a four hour game of five sets¿

JOHN HOWARD
Then we'll have a lot of weary people dragging themselves off to work on Monday morning.

DAVID FROST
Yes, anyway we're delighted, have you had a, in terms of trade and culture and commerce have you had a successful week?

JOHN HOWARD
It's been a very successful week, this week marked 100 years since the British Parliament passed the Act that gave Australia the constitution we still live under, that constitution of course has been voted for by the Australian people but it needed legally to go through the British Parliament to get the force of law and it's the first major commemoration in what will be a year of commemoration in 2001 of the centenary of Australia. The Commonwealth came into being on the 1st of January, 1901 but this week was the time 100 years ago the Act passed through the British Parliament to establish it and it is an important historical element in the commemoration of the centenary of Australia. But it is also an opportunity to showcase the modern, prosperous, innovative Australia, Britain is a very major investor in Australia so it's a hard-headed visit as well as a historical visit.

DAVID FROST
Will, if Britain goes into the Euro or not, which obviously you wouldn't want to get involved in, what they're going to decide because it's another¿

JOHN HOWARD
It's another matter¿

DAVID FROST
But, but would it have any effect one way or the other on you whether we were in the Euro or not?

JOHN HOWARD
Well I don't think it really matters economically but that is, that is a matter for the British I don't want to get involved in that but I mean we have a, we invest an enormous amount in Britain and Britain invested an enormous amount in us, we remained very unhappy with the restrictive trade policies of the European Union, now you hurt our farmers very badly and we still are cranky about that and will remain cranky about that until we get a fairer deal but we've been able to win markets other, in other places, Australia now exports more wine to Britain than any country except France, so we've been able to come up through, through the inside on some other areas.

DAVID FROST
What about Oceania the man Charlie Dempsey?

JOHN HOWARD
Oh the soccer.

DAVID FROST
Yes, I mean, soccer, that in fact he was talked of as from New Zealand but he was representing you as well and you thought he was going to vote for South Africa as well presumably?

JOHN HOWARD
Well he would have been representing soccer interests in Australia, the Australian government doesn't tell sporting representatives how to vote, I, I guess I'm a bit disappointed in the choice between Germany and South Africa, that it didn't go to South Africa because in terms of spreading the game around the world and given that the last one was in France I could see the wisdom in an overall sense of it going to South Africa. But I don't know, pretend to know the ins and outs and as I remarked a moment ago we in government, certainly in Australia, don't direct sporting bodies how to vote on these things¿

DAVID FROST
What about¿

JOHN HOWARD
We have our own personal preferences.

DAVID FROST
Well you've got the, you've got the Olympic Games coming up, I remember how much money Canada lost on the Olympic Games, are you going to make money or lose money on the Games?

JOHN HOWARD
Well I don't think we'll lose money, the facilities are tremendous, they really are and we've been able to road-test all the major arenas with football matches and swimming events and so forth, well before the Olympic Games. I think the Games in Sydney will be a stunning success, I, I think the world will see a very modern, open-hearted Australia on display and all of us in Australia are looking forward very much to having people coming here.

DAVID FROST
And the Games won't be opened by yourself but the whole first ceremony will be opened up by the Governor General which, which raises the point, do you think that referendum which voted to keep the Queen, as it were, is that like they say here about some big votes, does that settle the issue for a generation do you think, or for how long, how long before that issue will be revisited?

JOHN HOWARD
Well I don't know, I don't think in a democracy you ever settle something like that, it was a pretty open, willing debate, a fairly clear majority for a combination of reasons decided to stay with the present arrangement. If there's no reason why it won't be revisited at some, can't be revisited at some time in the future but in a democracy that is how you should play it. A lot of people took the view that we have a very stable, workable system of government, we are a completely independent country in all senses and they couldn't see the point of change. Yet a lot of my fellow Australians had a different view and they'll keep on debating the issue, frankly David I've got an open mind as to if or when it might return to the agenda, I don't think it will be a big issue in the next election in Australia. I think, I think at the moment the Australian community is interested in a lot of other things, not only things like the Olympics but they're interested in the economic progress of the country, the new taxation system we've just introduced which has gone down very well so far. So it could come back, if and when I don't know but not in the immediate future.

DAVID FROST
Not in the immediate future. Is it inevitable that one day Australia will become a Republic or is it not inevitable?

JOHN HOWARD
Well I, I tend to agree with Benjamin Franklin that death and tax are the two inevitable things in life, beyond that things that might look inevitable may not be. I don't know, but one thing is certain and that is whatever happens it'll be a decision made by the Australian people, either way for the best of good reasons for the future of their country.

DAVID FROST
And do you see Australia building on its world role that it showed and particularly its regional role in East Timor or do you see when other things come along, like Solomon Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea that you can't get involved in all of these things, or do you think you should in your new role as trustee of the Pacific?

JOHN HOWARD
Well you have to look at each individual case according to its merits. Australia did play a decisive role in East Timor and we did do the right thing. Other countries had different problems and different challenges but one of the advantages Australia has in the region is that we are seen as a very stable, open, progressive, democratic society, we're a very diverse society culturally, there are 800,000 Australians who speak Asian languages and the fact that we have links with Europe and North America adds value to our relationship with Asia and the fact that we have close links with Asia adds value to our association with Britain and the rest of Europe and North America. In that sense we, we have assets and associations that add value to other links and associations but you have to look at each association and each problem according to its own merits, you should never take on the mantle of a particular role with a glib description because that can be, particularly if you are a fairly large country against small Pacific Island States, be misunderstood.

DAVID FROST
Right, thank you very much for being with us this morning John.

JOHN HOWARD
Thank you.

DAVID FROST
Bon voyage and I hope the voyage to Wimbledon is an exciting one as well.

JOHN HOWARD
Thanks David.

DAVID FROST
Thanks a million.

JOHN HOWARD
Thank you.

DAVID FROST
Many, many thanks.

JOHN HOWARD
Thank you.

DAVID FROST
John Howard there.

END

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