KEVIN RUDD: It's heart wrenching to be here in the middle of Christchurch
and to see what has [indistinct]. This is a beautiful city. It means a lot
to Australians. I spoke to my daughter last night, and she's been married
for a year or two now, but her husband proposed to her on the steps of
Christchurch Cathedral when they were here on a holiday together. So this
city means a lot to us in Australia. It means a huge amount to the people
of New Zealand, and it means a huge amount to the people of Christchurch
It's pretty hard to describe how it feels walking through a war zone like
this. It's just bad. We've been talking about the good things too, which is
how people have pitched together. You've heard the story many times before,
and I won't repeat it.
But as Australians, and as members of your wider family, for us it's been a
privilege to be here to help in whichever way we've been able - whether
that's with search and rescue or in other ways.
The task really lies ahead of you. It's massive. I was just saying to John
that I don't know what I'd do if I was in his shoes or the New Zealand
Government's shoes; I just really don't know what I'd do. It's just so big.
And I really have admiration for the New Zealand Government in dealing with
something of this order of magnitude.
One other thing I'd say is this: if you look around the region and around
the world, these things are happening just far too often.
None of us know where it's going to hit next. Some time ago, a few years
ago, when I was Prime Minister, I raised with our friends and colleagues
across East Asia how we can better coordinate our natural disaster
response, because the truth is none of us know where it's going to hit
next. Absolutely none of us know where it's going to hit next. And the key
to it is how do we scramble immediately to help, because as Steve and John
have said to me, it really is what happens in the first day or two that's
Now our men and women who form part of the search and rescue team today are
But across our wider region - whether it's Japan; whether it's northern
Honshu; whether it's Sichuan in China, with earthquakes a few years ago;
whether it's here in Christchurch; or floods and devastation across my own
home state of Queensland, with cyclones at one end, floods at the other -
as nations we'll work together on how we can continue to do this better.
I'm here at the invitation of the Foreign Minister. I'd originally planned
to come after the last earthquake here in Christchurch, and Foreign
Minister McCully was keen that we came here and had our bilaterals, which
is an annual meeting of the two foreign ministers of the two countries.
And we do it here in Christchurch in order to underline the fact that we in
Australia are with you, and not just for the upfront bit. We'll continue to
work with the New Zealand Government and the authorities here in any
practical way we can help with the rebuilding of this great city, given the
great challenges you face.
Over to you, folks.
JOURNALIST: Have you any idea what sort of form that help might take?
KEVIN RUDD: Look, we're just keeping in close contact with the Kiwis. We
have a pretty seamless relationship. Within an hour of this thing hitting,
and I saw it on - I was at the National Press Club in Canberra, I was on
the phone here to Murray, my colleague, and I said, I don't know how big
this is, but what I know from experience is that we need to button, and
it's far better that we do that and do it quickly.
So that's from the beginning, and that's with the search and rescue and
that's been what our teams have been doing, but from here on in we will be
in daily, weekly, regular liaison with the Kiwis on what else can be done.
Because this is part of the heart and soul of New Zealand; it's part of the
heart and soul of our part of the world. Christchurch means a lot to
Australia as well.
JOURNALIST: You mentioned as well before that it's important when we've had
a series of disasters, you know, around the Pacific. Does that really
underline how important it is for countries like Australia, New Zealand,
Japan to work together so that when these disasters strike we are ready to
help each other?
KEVIN RUDD: I believe there's a wider family of us who need to work better
and better together. The effort here has been terrific, and hats off to all
those who have been involved.
But when you look at the capabilities like urban search and rescue, we've
got capabilities, the Kiwis have got capabilities, the Japanese have
capabilities, the Chinese have capabilities, the Koreans do as well and a
number of other countries - of course, our common ally the United States.
We need to work more and more on how we do it better and better together.
As I said to John before, if this were to hit a city like, you know,
Brisbane in Australia - we're not in an earthquake zone, but if we had a
large-scale municipal disaster - it would lie well beyond the capabilities
of any national government or any, municipal authority to deploy the assets
you need there and then to deal with it on your own. So the reality is
because of the scale of these things none of us can ever have enough
national capacity, so therefore we need to be able to deploy rapidly the
So in answer to your question, yes.
Now, have you got a question?
JOURNALIST: Yeah, just quickly. I mean, on Australian news media at the
moment Australian soldiers serving in Afghanistan have posted racist
comments on Facebook, some of them aimed at yourself. Do you - and the
Defence Force has launched an investigation into that. Do you think that's
going to be enough?
KEVIN RUDD: Well, the bottom line is this is revolting, it's appalling and
it is to be absolutely condemned.
The Defence Minister has done that this morning in Australia; as the
Foreign Minister I do that as well. It doesn't help one bit the campaign in
which we're involved and New Zealand is involved in Afghanistan.
I was in Kabul and in Uruzgan Province only two weeks or so ago, and men
and women in uniform there are doing a fantastic job. And we have some
Kiwis embedded with us in Tarin Kowt as well. They are doing a great job.
This sort of stuff doesn't help them do their job, it just doesn't help it
at all. And so it's appalling, it's revolting and to be condemned
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