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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 4919

INTERVIEW WITH WARREN BEEBY, MALCOLM COLLESS AND RUSSELL OF THE AUSTRALIAN

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: 08/12/1978

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 4919

PRESS OFFICE TRANSCRIPT 8 DECEMBER 1978
Interview with Warren Beeby, Malcolm Colless and
Russell Schneider of the Australian.
Question This is your Third Anniversary... . will be your Third
Anniversary, what do you think have been the major
achievements over the last few years?
Prime Minister
I think I'd put the major achievements in two areas:
one economic, because without the economy coming right
all other ambitions and hopes for Australia will fail.
You've got to have a strong economy to pay for
education, welfare and help for the disadvantaged. A
very major part of the Government's attention
therefore have been directed just to that. We've had
a situation, as you know, in which inflation has come
down very substantially. Interest rates have started to
come down significantly. The one percent reduction that
has been achieved through this year on home loans is
something of the order of $ 150 million a year on
repayments from home borrowers throughout Australia, or
$ 17 a month, whichever way you like to look at it, for
somebody on an average loan. That's substantial.
Industry is starting to become more competitive. A
number of industries are getting into export markets.
They are getting a better share of our own markets.
I think in September the statistics of items exported
rose for the first time since 1972. Some major manufacturers
are starting to put on very significant numbers of employees;
rebuilding export organisations. Quite plainly, other
industries the manufacturing sector is not even but
some parts of it are starting to do much better and over
the last month, six weeks, the last two months I suppose,
I have had a number of people saying to me that order
books are much better, production is up at the moment and
the prospects for next year are signicantly improved.
The BHP production over the six months to September
over the later six monthly period compared to the six
monthly period last year their production for domestic
purposes was up very very substantially indeed. It's the
first time that's happened. It's the first time they've
ever said that to me. In other words, they believe they've
( inaudible)
and that there is a real trend forward. All of this is
starting to point to a more optimistic economic future for
Australia. The decisions taken at the Loan Council complement this
general improvement, and again indicate that all Governments
are starting to plan for the 1980' s with a real degree of
confidence and enthusiasm. ./ 2

-2
Prime Minister ( continued)
Employment remains an areas of difficulty. The people
don't always understand that 300,000 people have been
or are being helped by the various training programmes.
There is not a problem of a lost generation, but it
is a problem of those who have less motivation, less
( inaudible), who have done less well at school, at the
end of each age group. our training programmes are
directed specifically to trying to help the kids in
this area.
You know the ministerial changes. A minister will be
full time on problems-of employment and youth affairs,
not indicating a change in economic strategy but making
quite sure that we are doing everything we can to
alleviate hardship that there is. I hope we will also
be again trying to get more of industry to register
its vacancies with the employment service: making sure
that people are aware of what jobs are available.
I said there were two areas which were significant
achievements. One is something which has been going on
quietly and has not really been given much attention
perhaps, maybe because it is not controversial, but in the
welfare area we have been able to concentrae funds in
areas of particular need, of particular disadvantage.
The program of building homes for * old people has been
going forward well. The additional and expanded programmes
to help the handicapped have done more in that area than
in any other period in Australia's history. In other words,
during a period of real economic stringency and difficulty,
we have not forgotten our concern and obligations to the
disadvantaged people in the Australian community.
( Inaudible) and have made additional funds available.
It is an aspect of the Government's record that is not
as well understood as it should be.
Question ( Colless)
During the last election campaign you said that the
election was necessary and justified because Australia
needed a period of politicaV and economic stability
if it was to recover from the economic depression.
Do you feel that that goal has been achieved?
Prime Minister
I think there is a much greater degree of political
stability and economic stability and I think that is
accepted in the marketplace.
Question Do the changes which have been made in the Budget
strategy not in the strategy-but in the Budget, since
it was introduced in August, do they detract at all, do
you feel from that econoihic stability? / 3

-3
-Prime* Minister
Not from economic staLbility, no, because the changes
in themselves do more for economic policy or strategy. But
I think what needs to be understood that in getting
to the total strategy many decisions had to be taken
were ery difficult and very hard.
Now I suppose four or five of those decisions became
matters of public comment and we did alter our view
in relation to a couple of them. Against the background
of the very real difficulty in framing a responsible
Budget this year, I think maybe not altogether surprising.
In Parliamentary terms I believe all Government
members supported the thrust and the strategy of the
Budget in a most commendable way. I also believe that
out in the marketplace the thrust and the strategy of
the Budget has been well accepted. I don't pretend
that individuals like all the individual items in the
Budget, they obviously don't, but a very large number of
people have said to me ' the strategy is right, the Budget
is responsible'. It is a result of that Budget that
people will have their view of the economy which has
begun to emerge. The earlier part of this calendar year
confirmed that the movements in interest rates are being
sustained in a steady and responsible way.
It would have been a tragedy to make progress with the
economy and to reverse that by an irresponsible Budget,
a Budget which might have been much easier to frame in
political terms, in the short-term, but which would have
reversed the progress we have made in relation to inflation.
Let me make the point that I reject utterly any concept of
a trade-off between inflation and unemployment and I don't
believe that we are giving unemployment a low priority
because we have given a high priority to inflation.
I think we have in fact shown more concern for unemployment
by being prepared to stick to policies which we know over
a time will work than by being, or allowing ourselves,
to be seduced into policies which might appear to be popular
in the short-term but which we know over the long-term
will not work.
one of the problems with a number of countries overseas,
is that after they have made some progress in the fight
against inflation, they felt that they then relax their
monetary and fiscal policies when inflation is still too
high and interest rates too high.
What's really happened is not a great improvement in
employment but a resurgence of inflation. That then is likely
to establish a higher continuing level of unemployment
than if the battle against inflation had been continued.
I don't think I have met him, but one of the officers
from the Office of Youth Affairs, put it very well in a
reported comment in Hobart the other day, that you have got
a commodity to sell and if you can't sell that commodity
you generally try to lower the price so you can sell it.
But when you can't sell all of a commodity, / 4

-4
Prime Minister ( continued)
if you continue to try and raise the price, then you
will sell less of the commodity. That's what is
accepted out in the marketplace but in the question of
employment, the tragedy is what is being sold is not
some unthinking, uncaring, inanimate object. Is the
labour of some tens of thousands of people all around
Australia. With that example, ju ; t put in plain and
graphic terms, if wages go up too much ' it is much harder
to get people into jobs and that is recognized by
Labor Prime Ministers like Jim Callaghan, and Labor
Treasurers like Dennis Healey. It was even recognized
by Frank Crean when he was Treasurer. One of the
great tragedies in Australia in 1977/ 78 is that it is
not recognized by the responsible elements in the
trade union movement, although I am quite certain it is
recommended by the great majority of their rank and file.
Question Do you think it is recognized by the Arbitration Commission?
Prime Minister
I would certainly hope so. I might be able to make a better
judgement than that after I know the results of their
wage case. The Arbitration Commission tries to balance
economic reality with its industrial relations responsiblities.
But after one particular wage decision where very near full
indexation was granted, a very senior trade unions official
told me that he and his colleagues were laughing all the
way to the bank because they know that the union movement
would have accepted a lower determination. I think he
knew in his heart that it would have been better for
employment. They regard their job as arguing for the
maximum increase in wages. It is time people really started
to show a responsibility to those who aren't employed, who
ought to be represented by the leaders of the trade ulzion
movement. But they are not, they have been rejected by
them. Question You were saying that high levels of unemployment will continue
until the price of labour is either reduced or greater
increases in...
Prime Minister
The whole thrust of our arguments before the Arbitration
Commission is to try and see that there is a greater profit
share and that the very high and rapid escalation of
wages, or the damage that has done, is to an extent reversed.
It is worth noting that in the 12 months it might have
been marginally changed in the 12 months to September when
the figures were out but in the 12 months to June, average
weekly earnings still rose a little more than the Consumer
Price Index. I think that just makes the point that our
policies haven't been being achieved at the expense of
the working men and women of Australia. Against those figures
they can't complain that our policies have damaged their
own interest.

5
Question Do you feel that the difficult decisions in the Budget
that you referred to this year some had to be
modified do you think you've made it harder for
yourself next year by this commitment to give up a totalof
about $ 600 million in revenue through bringing off
the tax surcharge in...
Prime Minister
They were commitments. The very fact that we introduced
tax indexation makes it harder for governments. Inflation
is down but there is some inflation, and still too much,
we want to reduce that.
But while there is any inflation, some people get pushed
into higher tax brackets without tax indexation. They
get pushed into higher tax brackets through the process
of inflation and Governments therefore get more revenue.
Tax indexation was designed to prevent that. The fact
that we've got tax indexation of course makes it more
difficult for us but it also makes Governments more
honest. If you have to raise more revenue you've got to come
out and do it publicly and be seen to do it. You've got
to argue and you have got to justify it.
I don't think people have recognised or understood the
extent of the influence of tax indexation on the policies
of the Government; Wihile tax indexation remains, the
extent of its influence on the policies of any future
government. It would prevent for all time when in 1972
Mr. Whitlam was asked how areyou going to pay for your
and his answer was " by the inflationary increase in taxation',
in tax indexation. No Prime Minister can ever give that
answer. People didn't understand it then. They thought
it was a harmless process. only when it went on voraciously
they realised the great harm that it did do.
Question You've had to say that you are putting on this 1.5 percent
tax surcharge and this sense you are legislating for the
tax increase that you want. You have promised to give that
up on the 1st of July, with other revenue, and this has
put you in a tight situation where you haven't got as much
flexibility as you had in previous years whef~ e your revenues are.
Prime Minister
That depends on a number of things. I think you need to have
in mind that the rural sector is doing much better than
was envisaged even six months ago. The last forecast from
the BAE revised upwards farm incomes by $ 300 or $ 400 million.
So revenue from that should be up. Contribution of balance
of trade in rural exports I would have thoughtwould also be
up as a consequence. The secondary effects by the rural
sector in parts of the economy, I often tend to think is
underestimated in official forecasts. At the Orange Field
Day the exhibitors there were telling me that they had all
taken more and better orders than they had for many years. / 6

-6
Prime Minister ( continued)
That's not surprising because I think this year is the
first time in maybe 15 years that we have got sheep and
wool, beef and wheat, all coming together with reasonable
prices with good seasons around Australia. That's bound
to have an impact on what farmers do. What farmers do
clearly has an impact on country tow. vns and industries that
service rural areas. Clearly, just as tax indexation
makes it more difficult to frame Budgets, we knew we had
to raise some extra revenue this year but we wanted
put that legislation on for one year. That's what
we did.
Question The Leader of the Opposition has predicted that you are
going to make up for this loss of revenue through the
tax surcharge coming off, by implementing a retail tax.
Prime Minister
I think it would be boring to go into all the predictions
of ' the Leader of the Opposition. But if you read John
Howard's statement he made it plain that what we wanted
to do was to have the best advice so that we could look
at the proper balance of taxation.
It is the balance of that taxation as much as its
incidence in any one area or just as much as the particular
level of aparticular kind of tax, determines whether an
internal tax system is equitable or not. It's to enable
us to make the best decisions in that area that the
Treasurer launched the current inquiry. Some of the
advertising in this area, by some of the retailers, has
been, to put it mildly, ] rather distorted. There were
one or two pamphlets were saying something like
" 1campaign against the Government's decision to impose" well
there has been now decision to impose, it's an investigation
to enable us to make better-informed judgements about the
general weight and thrust of taxation.
Question I understand that abo~ ut 100, 000 petitions on this matter
have gone to members of Parliament, including your backbenchers
and a great number of them have come out against a retail
tax? Prime Minister
The petitions?
Question The petitions from retailers to backbenchers. / 7

-7
Prime'Minister The petitions from retailers, yes. But one particular
store had 12 people employed, going around to all their
customers saying please sign here. A lot of people go
into retail stores and if they are prepared to put on
quite a number of employees to get signatures. ( Inaudible)..
to know why it's done: " look, you want to sign this
petition against an additional tax don't you", of course,
well who wouldn't get people to sign petitions under those
circumstances.
-Question
You don't rule out the possibility of a retail tax?
Prime Minister
I don't add to or detract anything from what the
Treasurer said on this subject. The examination was designed
to allow us to make better judgements about the
w~ ight of taxation, the w~ ight of direct and indirect
taxation. When we get that examination we will make
a judgement about what we ought to do.
Question When do you expect it in?
Prime Minister
I don't think it is too far off.
Question Before the Budget?
Prime Minister
We will have it before the next Budget.
-, Que stion
Before you ( inaudible)
Prime* Minister
( Inaudible)
Question Last week you said you were hopeful that you would receive
the Crawford Review by the end of the year?
Question I think the Crawford and Williams Reports both look like
being early in the next year. They spoke, or wrote, to
me about this and especially the Williams reporter, said
I would much sooner it was done thoroughly and well ./ 8

-8
Prime Minister ( continued)
because we want it to be a report on which we can base
actions and decisions and it does take an extra month
or two I would sooner we took that extra' month than to
put in a report that we might not be thoroughly satisfied
with. Question Tackling the problem of industry adjustment can be done
presumably, or it will be done by the Government ( inaudible).
Prime Minister
I wouldn't expect any moves. We've done some things, as
you know. What's on record in the textile, apparel and
footware industry, export incentives and whatever.
An enormous amount of re-adjustment has been going on in
both primary and secondary industry all the time. It's
very evident.
Question Can we expect a signicant move from Government after the
Prime Mini! ter
I would find it quite impossible to make a judgemeht about
that until I know what is going to be recommended and see
the basis of the Report. The Williams Report in particular
I hope will be one which dobs provide a basis for action
by governments. But I would be very surprised if its the
sort of report that only involves the Federal Government.
Question On the question of interest rates again. Some of your
backbenchers are saying, privately perhaps, if interest
rates continue to be forced down.
Prime Minister
They are not forced down, the market is taking them down.
Question or encouraged by government action to go down, there could
be a large outflow of capital next year, after which
interest rates ( inaudible).
Prime Minister
People also look at the rates of inflation. In countries
where interest rates are going up they become very
concerned about inflation.
Question Do you believe interest rates will continue to drop? / 9

9-
Prime minister
Over a time. Plainly, interest rates rising in Britain
and the United States don't help. But you have got to
look at the underlying rates of inflation and that's
also a factor in general confidence in the policies
of Government. If their rates continue to rise, it makesour
task harder, quite plainly. I think that
up to about this time last year, or very early this
calendar year, we had a right to expect that in overseas
countries inflation was qoing to c6ntinue to fall,
and policy settings would be maintained that would
achieve that.
It's been a disappointment to see that policy settings
haven't been maintained which would encourage inflation
to fall in other countries. If there is a reversal
in the downward thrust of inflation, I think it is going
to be one of the major factors that will inhibit the
growth of world markets and the expansion of world trade
and therefore one of the major factors that will make
it harder to get rid of the unemployment problem and
I'm not talking' just of Auistralia, I'm talking of advanced
Western countries. My views on that aren't radical, they
are supported by the OECD and supported, in vehement
terms, by the Secretariat of the General Agreement on
Tariffs and Trade.
Question Are you still confident of a 5 percent inflation rate
by the middle of next year, in view of the way food
prices have acted over the last few months manufacturing
prices? Prime Minister
I think food prices were in a sense predictable because
they had been operating at historically low levels.
Some have meat prices have as you know. I have been
given no evidence by Treasury to cause them to withdraw
from what is a Treasury official prediction of an
annualised rate, about the middle of next year, of around
percent. Let me make it quite plain that this is not
any change from what I've said beforeI am just filling
it out to make sure there is no migunderstanding when
that time comes. That wasn't 5 percent over the 12 months
up to June, running at a rate of around 5 percent
at that time if you annualise the rate then prevailing.
That was what Treasury said in their prediction, and that
was in the Budget papers. And that's what I've stated
in speeches. Now, on the later advice, post-Budget, that
I've had from Treasury, there's been no withdrawal by
them fromr ' Chat prediction, from that forecast.
Question If that was right, if that was achieved, would that be
seen as the basis for a more stimulating Budget next year?

10
Primne Minister
Let's put it this way. We've taken the decisions in
the Loan Council and they will start to flow through.
I don't know how quickly the Premiers will get out of
their seats and get moving. I know one or two of
them are trying to move as rapidly as they can on
the projects that have been approved. But if you look
at the funds involved there, they start to build up
in the second or third year to 300 or 350 million dollars.
That's clearly got implications for activity in a way
that's not on our Budget. Before we get to our own
Budget we are going to have the Loan Council decisions,
the Premier' s Conference decisions, and clearly as we
approach them we will be taking the total situation into
account to see what we ought to do. It is not only our
Budget. There are other factors that are highly relevant and it all
needs to be integrated so that the variou รต elements
all thrust and push in the same direction, the right
direction. The other point I would like to make is that if you've
got inflation at that sort of level, that in'itself is
going to help pr6vide its own stimulus. That means that
our cost basis ' improves. That means our manufacturers
are going to get a better share of markets. Maybe for
the first time, importers are complaining about the costs
of imports. As far as the Australian factories are concerned
I think it's bad luck for the importer. As far as the
Australian factories are concerned that is good news for
the Australian producer, for the Australian company and it
also means that Australian goods will have a better chance
of being e~ ported. In the sort of situation that we've
place in, the word stimulus has been used very often in
a wrong way. People have said stimulus more Government
spefiding and it's a hangover from from the Keynesian
philosophy which was more appropriate to quite'different
times when you had old-fashioned kind of depression where
there was no inflation, interest rates were low, unemployment
was high and economies do respond to Government expenditure
in those circumstances. But we are not in those
circumstances and overcoming inflation, the process of
getting interest rates down, in the circumstances we've
been facing, provides its own stimulus and the Goverments
will need to judge how that operates. Having said that,
we I take the Loan Council decisions into account.
Question If you got inflation to 5 percent would that be seen
would you then consider that you had largely won the
fight against inflation and that you would then now then
be holding, be engaging, in a holding action and switching
some of your attention to othbr areas?
Prime Minister
Oh good heavens no. Well, inflation is you get a figure
of what inflation is and so often people say your energies
are directed to inflation. I have already made the point
about inflation and employment. When you say that your / 11

11
Prime Minister ( continued)
energies are directed to the problem of inflation
that is not an end in itself: y/ ou wnat to get inflation
down so that your factories can compete; so that they
can employ; go that they can expand; so that they will
employ more; so that local people will be encouraged
to invest; so that overseas concerns will be more concerned
in invest in Australia than in any other country because
they recognize the strength and the sense of our economic
policies. So when you are talking about getting inflation down that
in a sense is a shorthand way-of saying you are wanting
to achieve all these other things.
You do achieve all these other things by getting inflation
down. You get a real push to the economy by the activities
and decisions by business and entrepreneurs in Australia
and overseas. It needs to be in that wider perspective.
You are not just looking at that one figure,. inflation,
and ignoring the dther'factors that are going to occur.
Question Y ou're basically relying on the improvement in the economy
that will flow from getting inflation down, creating this
stability to generate job prospects. Do you see any
scope whatever for Government-sponsored capital work9
to aim at creating jobs?
Prime Minister
Well, one answer to that again, is the Loan Council decision
because those are projects sponsored by Governments. Sure,
the money might be borrowed overseas, but it's much
better doing things that way than doing it off our Bu ' dget
which could have all sorts of unhappy consequences if
the deficit is too high, if you have to borrow too much
money. It's going to force up interest rates instead
of getting them down.
Quite plainly,-there a number of things in the capital works
area which the Government would like to be able to do
if the financial circumstances made it possible. There are
some areas where you would like to have the additional
resources for a greater ( inaudible). There are other areas
where you would like to be able to contribute more to
building up the infrastructure of Australia. But we have
got to be able to judge the circumstances at the time, as to
whether it is respon , ible for us to do so. I can't make
a judqement now what may or may not be in the next Budget
or in the Budget after that.
And you shouldn't take the fact that I have said that there
are areas where we would like to be able to do more in
the capital works area as indicating that that is going to
happen. ( Inaudible). Hitherto, the overall financial
management has we just haven't had the resources to do it.
/ 12

-12
Question Do you feel that there is scope for a heightened Federal
Government overseas borrowing program to perhaps generate
this sort of work you're talking about?
9
Prime Minister
I think we went as far as we should in this area,
in giving approval to the States. There was a general
agreement at the Loan Council that there wouldn't be,
or rather a Commonwealth view, that we wouldn't particularly
be wanting to approve additional projects under three
years. Now if the States want to bring something up for
examination which is a long lead item not involving
expenditure for a period, we would obviously look at it.
But it's a new policy, a departure from a practice
of 50 years and it would be better to let it be launched
on the decisions and approvals so far made and then just
sit back a little and see how that works.
Question In 1975, and again in 1977, you expressed the importance
of the Government getting out of the private sector and
transferring resources to the private sector. A lot of
businessmen do still complain that this government is not much
better than the Labor government in terms of bureaucratic
interference with business.
Prime Minister
I don't think they really mean it.
Question They complain about it.
The Prices Justification Tribunal does still exist -the
Trade Practices Act still intrudes upon business. Do you'~ have
any plans to reduce Government control-of business?
Prime Minister
You know the changes that have been made in the PJT area and
I think now it is a much more sensible organisation than it
was before. I think that an organisation such as the PJT
in the current circumstances is desirable for a number of reasons.
In yourwage negotiations it is important to be able
to demonstrate that you are concerned about the way prices are
set. On one argument you could say ( inaudible)
at the market place, but that is not always evident ( inaudible).
It is not unimportant in general wage negotiations, but
there is a substantial industrial relations wage reason for
a continuation of the PJT in some form. It is quite unreal to
believe that you could have no restrictive trade practice
legislation in 1978. It is a nruestion of examination to see
whether or not the Act intrudes unduly in the affairs of
business, and there is an examination of the provisions of the
Act going on at the moment. There were changes made barely
some improvements.

-13-
Que stion strength?
Prime Minister
I think what Governments have to fight against in this area is
the tendency of these regulatory bodies growing, extending, expanding
their powers. Because if that is allowed business can be stifledthat
is not our intention, and I don't really believe it is
happening at the moment. We don't rule out possible changes
to restrictive trade practices legislation there is an
examination going on at the moment.
Question In the preliminary consideration for next year's Budget is there
any thought being given at this stage to another look at resources
taxes, capital gains taxes, and that sort of
Prime Minister
We have made our decisions about those.
Question They're finished?
Prime Minister-
,( Inaudible)
Question Going from business to mining guidelines. Are you completely
satisfied with the mining guidelines?
Prime Minister
The guidelines have been issued for consultation. They are
operating in the coal area in parti6ular at the moment.
But after consultation the Government will be havinq a look at where
we finally come out. That was understood when the guidelines were
first issued.
Question Have you received any response from the companies? There was an
approach made from the companies shortly after the guidelines
were announced.
Prime Minister
A lot of companies have been making their views known, and I haven't
got a catelogue of those for and those against. ./ 14

-14-
Question But there has been no consensus as far as the Government is
concerned yet, you haven't been able to draw a consensus view
of their reaction?
Prime Minister
I think there are differing views 6n this sort of subject
I think there are always differing views.
Question
Nothing, at this stage, to make you feel that the decisions that
were announced may need substantial amendment?
Prime Minister
Nothing that causes me to qualify what was said at the time.
The guidelines were issued for consultation and discussion with
the companies, with the States, and after that we will examine
it. That was said * at the time.
Question
Can I just ask one last one. The first question was your
achievements in the past. What do you hope to achieve, what do
you most hope to achieve between now and the next election?
Prime Minister
I believe continuation of obviously broad economic policies, but at
the same time, I would hope the atmospherics that have been
coming to me, and the statement by individuals of prospects for
their own companies activities, are obviously bedoming more
evident and recorded in the official statistics over a fairly broad
area. That's in the economic area. We are continuing in other
areas of government the examination of welfare programmes in
areas of concern. The Williams Inquiry might involve'some
substantial decisions of government in relation to education in
train but we can't prejudge that at the moment.
One other area of achievement which I haven't mentioned is in
the area of civil rights. I think this Government has done more
than any otheir to protect individuals against the possibly
intrusions, by what is sometimes regarded as a loud and powerful,
unthinking, uncaring bureaucracy. The Ombudsman, the Administrative
Appeals Tribunal and the various the fabric of law reform
is a very notable achievement. There have been discussions
in recent times about the Human Rights Commission. There have been
very significant discussions with the States in relation to it.
That can be encompassed in agreement with the States and take
that process of law reform an important area a further step
forward. They're non-controversial athievements, but the ones
that are nonetheless very important when the apparatus in
bureaucracy of a State sometimes appears to be large to an individual
outside hard to find his or her way through. There are now
means of redress, means to 6nsure that grievances can be examined,
decisions reviewed. I think that is very important.

Question Can I just ask one question. After the Heads of Government
Regional Meeting earlier this year, and the bombing of the Hilton
you announced a substantial upgrading of security in Australia,
and there was a large provision for security made in the Budget.
Soon you are going away again, you will be going by commercial
airlines which raises that problem of security yet again.
How close is the Government to providing these VIP jets and
also could we expect a significant move in the area of security
in the New Year?
Prime Minister
There has been a good deal going on behind the scenes. There is
the Hope examination, as you know, for arrangements between the
Commonwealth and the States; there is the Mark Report and the
Commonwealth Police, and that is being processed; and I hope
the Hope Report will be a very significant vehicle for improved
cooperation between the Commonwealth and the States in that sort
of area. I can't really say at this point how much progress
is being made in relation to aircraft. The reasons the only
reasons for the purchase of aircraft or the decision to
to see if a particular aircraft could be purchased is. a security
one. As a Cabinet we see and uhderstand the importance
of that and also understand the inconvience to ot-her passengers
that often occurs when a member of the Government is on
a commercial aircraft. The overseas requirement by itself
is not a major one. There is a very real problem in getting
an aircraft that can suit the various purposes and it is'not
going to just be something this there for a very occasional
use. I am not overly enthusiastic about an aircraft that
might just be standing by and not doing V. ery much for most
of the year unless maybe the Deputy Prime Minister is
leading a trade mission to China or on the odd occasions when
I have to do something overseas. That is one of the problems.
The sort of the aircraft that would meet our specifications
just plainly isn't built.
Question Has that idea been shelved?
Prime Minister
No. It has not been shelved it's just indicating the
difficulty. If any decision is made it is going to represent
a very real compromise in terms of aircraft use.
Question Does that mean it looks as going to be muibh longer than was
originally anticipated before we you can get two new planes?
Prime Minister-
Not necessarily, but it does mean that whatever you do represents
a very real compromise and it just means what I said a real
compromise in the use of aircraft. I don't know what the final
decision will be. / 16

16
Question
Are you going to take a holiday this year?
Prime Minister
Next Thursday I hope to get down on the farm and have
a few days off before going to Jamaica on Christmas Day.
Question It's a funny day to start your overseas tour.
Prime Minister
I will have a press conference about 11: 00 o'clock on
Christmas Day. That's just to set the scene for Jamaica.
Question The Ministry are you totally satisfied ( inaudible)
Prime Minister
It is a very good ministerial team.
Question
And you are satisfied?
Prime Minister
Yes, of course I am.
Question No further changes are contemplated?
Prime Minister
No. I must have been very predictable. 000---

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