7 October 2001


Subjects: release of document “Putting Australia’s Interests First”; taxation; Australian Labor Party; 2001 election campaign.

To me the prize of Hughes has always been rather special. It was one of
those seats that swung magnificently to us on the night of the 2nd of
March in 1996. It was a seat that we were able to hold, indeed in
slightly even more impressive terms in 1998. It represents an area
of Sydney which brings together all of the great aspirations of the
mainstream of the Australian community. This part of Sydney which I
know so very well, the electorates of Hughes, the electorate of Cook
and just of course across the George’s River into the electorate of
Barton and then into the St George area is a part of Sydney which has
always represented to me what middle Australia is all about. And if you
listen to the people of this part of Sydney you’ve got a pretty good
idea of what the people of Australia are thinking and what the people
of Australia want from their leaders.
And I want to say to you
Danna and to you Bruce in particular who are the sitting federal
members for the electorates of Hughes and Cook what a fantastic job
both of you have done in representing the aspiration of the people of
the Sutherland Shire….

We are living in a period of uncertainty. There is an unease around
the world and in our own nation that I haven’t felt in my 62 years.
There is an unease and a sense of foreboding from a combination of
circumstances that we must respond to. We must respond to it with
determination, but we must also respond to it with a sense of hope and
a sense of optimism. And we must respond to it in a traditional
Australian way. And the traditional Australian way of course is never
to impose the wishes of this nation on others but rather to work with
our friends and our allies to defend the values we and they hold dear.
And other the weeks and months ahead precisely how that will work out I cannot tell you today. But
what I can tell you is that the journey will be a journey together with
likeminded people. With nations whose values are the same as ours,
nations who believe that the liberty of the individual and the right of
people to follow a political cause, to worship their god or not worship
any god at all is the fundamental right that individual men and women
have. Australia has been one of the very few, indeed you could number
them on the fingers of both hands, very few countries that have
remained continuously democratic for the last 100 years. And we
have never been reluctant to defend the principles of freedom and the
principles of democracy in association with our allies.

The threat we now face is different, it is not an conventional
military threat in the sense that the last wars have taught us, it is a
new and in some respects a more forbidding and frightening prospect.
But it’s important in all of that to remember that we here in Australia
have things going for us that no other country has got
. We’ve got
an economy that’s better able to withstand the economic downturn
following not only the weakness of the American economy but the events
of the 11 of September. And we have a resilient people that I know and
I believe can carry nation forward together with our friends and allies
in response to this very real threat.

At a time like this we need certainty and predictability.
We need
strength, we need resolve, we need a group of men and women, we need a
team, and every successful government is a team. It’s not a one-man
band, it’s a team. And we need a team that know what it believes in and
has got the courage to stick to it.