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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 4693


Photo of Fraser, Malcolm

Fraser, Malcolm

Period of Service: 11/11/1975 to 11/03/1983

More information about Fraser, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 22/04/1978

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 4693

Interview with Laurie Wilson, Channel 7
22 April 1978
QUESTION: P. M. What sort of positive things do you point to
as having come out of these two days here. There has been a
bit of a feeling that maybe-. it really hasn't achieved that
much. PRIME MINISTER: I think the discussions have been very useful.
because it's the first-time Japan and Australia have sat down
together to talk about the broader based economic and trade
issues. It's natural that we should talk to Japan about these
matters because we're both very much affected by the world
economy, very much affected by changes in trade. We also have
very substantial economic and trade links of our own. I believe
there is a significant degree of a common view between Japan
and Australia about the problems that we all face at the present
time, and about the need to make the trade negotiations taking
place through this year as successful as possible, about the
need to make sure that agriculture is included, and also about
the need to make progress in the dialogue between developing and
developed countries not just progress, but positive results.
QUESTION: If we look to an area like more particularly the
EEC, there have been some pretty harsh words exchanged between
yourself and some members of the EEC over the past few weeks.
Is it possible that Japan can be of assistance in smoothing
the way, so to speak?
PRIME MINISTER: Well I don't think that's the role, and that
aspect didn't come up. I would hope that in some matters,
such as codes for export subsidies, there can be very close
co-operation between Japan and Australia, and Australia will
be tabling a code for export subsidies in the MTN discussions.
The bilateral matters between the EEC and Australia we need
to battle on in our own way in relation to those matters.
Those words that we used, we used very deliberately, advisedly
and with forethought, because only relatively shortly before
that we found representatives of one Community country in MTN
discussions saying if Australia doesn't do this, we will
break off the bilateral discussions, and Vic. Garland got
something of the same flavour in Europe, and after the best
part of a year in getting to the situation where constructive
and meaningful bilateral discussions could take place, we felt
that that was going a little too far, and something needed
doing about it.
QUESTION: Looking at the sorts of things that you'vye been
saying over the past few weeks, particularly overthe past
few days, there now seems almost a sense of urgency about
your feelings about what needs to be done internationally,
particularly in respect to trade. Can we expect to see over
the next say six months or so you playing a much more active
role internationally?

PRIME MINISTER: Well I think there is a sense of urgency
because there are major trade negotiations going on through
the course of this year, and if the w,. rong decisions are
made the dangers are a reversion to the protectionism of the
1030' s. Therefore it is very important to try and get to.
a situation where constructive, useful and sensible decisions
are made to try and widen the bases of world trade and to
try and achieve an expansion of marketLs. It is very
important to make sure that the devl oping countries are
involved in that. Let me give you one example.......( tape
turned) a matter of a week or a matter of a month. And I
don't think anyone really suggests that that kind of
improvement in tariff structure is going to have a substantially
great effect on trade. Bringing that to attention just
emphasises the importance of other aspects of MTN discussions
and negotiations, and emphasises the importance of making sure
that agriculture stays a realistic partC of the negotiations,
and doesn't get pushed aside, as it has on other occasions.
If the wrong decisions are made through the course of this
year we face the prospects of protectionism of a kind that
the world hasn't seen for many years, and I think that would
be most unfortunate for all of us, and therefore the decisions
taken this year could set the pattern for many years, and
therefore it's important to try and set the right pattern.
QUESTION: Finally Prime Minister, You have said that in the
past Australia has perhaps been a little reticent in its
attitude towards bring some influence to bear on world attitudes.
Are you hoping in fact that we are going to be able to have more
influence in the next twelve months?
PRIME MINISTER: Well I think that we've always expressed our
views constructively in international forums where Australia
is represented as a responsible member of the international
community. But any Australian governznent has a very particular
responsibility to all the Australian people, and it's not good
enough to say that merely that other nations are larger, more
powerful and that therefore they discuss these things amongst
themselves, and that Australia can happily leave it to other
people. We do have a responsibility to our own people, and
countries with whom we have close relationships, Japan, the
United States when the Vice-President visits Australia in
a few days time. There is a responsibility to speak about
these issues as we see them, and I believe that Australia
has a constructive role to play, and I believe that should
apply to any nation, no matter what it's size.

Transcript 4693