Government - Protecting its Interests for You


April 21, 1999

The Australian Government has developed new plans to protect the country's children from bad weather, Senator Richard Canoot announced today.

The following is a transcript of the press conference:

Senator Richard Canoot: Thank you all for coming. I am pleased to release today the government's new policy to protect children from the harmful effects of the rain and other bad weather. The government proposals include:

The biggest problem of course is in Tasmania, which has particularly severe weather, and we will be making special grants to Tasmania to build arts centres and suchlike.

I'll now be pleased to take questions.

Question: Senator, may we call you Dick?
Senator Canoot: No.

Q:  Senator, what exactly do you mean by bad weather?
SC: Hail mainly, especially the kind of hard hail we saw in Sydney last week. That can cause irreparable damage to children, not to mention adults. But we are also concerned about stopping the rain, and of course snow.

Q:  What's wrong with rain?
SC: It makes people get wet, and we know what than can lead to, especially if they go indoors. But rain can also turn into hail under certain conditions, and of course children can catch cold from rain.

Q:  Is hail really that dangerous?
SC: Absolutely. You saw the damage caused to cars by the Sydney hailstorm. Think of what it might do to a child's head.

Q:  Children have been dodging the weather for years now and there have been no reports of serious injury. Why the need to act now?
SC: Well the Tasmanian situation is a major factor there. It looks like being a particularly stormy few months and we want to do what we can to help Tasmania.

Q:  But have there been injuries in Tasmania?
SC: Not so far, but we can all see what will happen if we don't act quickly.

Q:  How will an arts centre help?
SC: It will get people indoors and out of the weather.

Q:  But you said you were worried about what people might do indoors?
SC: Only in private. A public space like an arts centre is quite safe.

Q:  Can you tell us more about the mandatory shields, Senator?
SC: Well it's not up to the government to specify the technical solution, we are just making rules in order to protect the children.

Q:  How will the shields work then?
SC: They'll be required to be installed in all public spaces where children might gather. They will completely cover the area so as to protect children from being hit on the head by hailstones, or indeed raindrops.

Q:  You are trying to stop the rain then?
SC: Don't be preposterous. If we could stop the rain we would, but we just do what we can. We recognise that most of the rain and hail will still reach the ground.

Q:  Won't the protective shields stop sunshine as well?
SC: That's true, but we consider that a small price to pay. And even sunshine can be dangerous to children, especially in large doses.

Q:  Has this been tried anywhere else?
SC: Some third-world countries have tried to stop the wind with similar shields, and have not been very successful. But failures elsewhere will not deter us. We have had Senate Committees enquiring into this so we are convinced we know best.

Q:  What does the Weather Bureau think of your ideas?
SC: That's not important. The government is in charge here, not the Weather Bureau.

Q:  Where does the weather come from?
SC: Well we all know that weather comes mainly from the West. We'd like other countries to stop it reaching us but they won't do anything so we have to act unilaterally.

Q:  Wouldn't umbrellas or raincoats be a better solution?
SC: Umbrellas are too flimsy and unreliable, and raincoats are about to be banned, for obvious reasons. Only the government can ensure total protection of the entire population.

Q:  But shouldn't parents keep their children out of the weather?
SC: Some parents will, but many parents are irresponsible. Besides, parents are not always in a position to judge the weather, so the government must step in and do the job for them.

Q:  You mentioned adults as well as children.
SC: Did I? Well we're mainly about protecting the children, but we all know that many adults are too silly to come in out of the rain, so our measures will help everybody.

Q:  Who will pay the costs of all this infrastructure?
SC: That's not really our concern. Protecting the children is paramount, and the community as a whole will ultimately have to pay whatever the price is.

Q:  The government won't fund this?
SC: No way. The government's job is to make the rules, and implement the GST of course.

Q:  Senator, may we call you Dick?
SC: If you insist. But I'm sorry, there's no time for more questions. I have to go down to Tasmania to open another arts centre.

For further information:
Ph. 02 6277 7480
Fax 02 6273 4154

Government - Protecting its Interests for You