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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 5069


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: 14/06/1979

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 5069

This transcript is taken from a tape recording. The Parliamentary
Library is not responsible for any errors or omissions.
14 JUNE 1979
WILLESEE: On Monday night in the program we showed a special
interview with the Prime Minister Mr. Fraser.
Last night Mr. Fraser's press secretary announced that the interview
had been cut and accused us of unfair editing.
Now this man's job is to say things on behalf of Mr. Fraser so we
have to presume that Mr. Fraser really believed we have been unfair
and wished to say so publicly.
Nov. that's very hurtful. Interviewing Mr. Fraser is never a
joyous occasion. You wake up in the morning of an interview with
our present Prime Minister, remember what you have to do on that
day and you pull the blankets over your head and pretend the day
doesn't exist. You snap at your wife, you don't feel like breakfast
and you consider a set of excuses ranging from doctor's orders to
let's give a younger interviewer his big opportunity.
But, there is no way out. You know you have to do it because he
is the Prime Minister and it's the responsible thing to do.
You know equally that you can't win. You ask a personal question
and he clubs it to death. You ask a political question and he
stares balefully at you as if you are the enemy from some distinctly
lesser tribe. You confront him on a matter of fact and he doesn't
accept that it's a fact. You pursue it manfully, whereas the
Prime Minister himself is fond of telling you you're wasting your
time. MR. FRASER: We said we would introduce new tax scales, we said
we would introduce lower tax scales and reduce taxes, and we have.
WILLESEE: You said you wouldn't increase taxes, but you did.
MR. FRASER: . We made it perfectly plain with the introduction of
tax indexation, we said that if governments want more money they

" Willesee" l 14/ 6/ 79
will have to legislate for it and so we did.
WILLESEE: But don't you think the people might look at you
now and think, look, he is behaving like a politician,-he wants
to get the best out of each answer, which is his right, but he is
not facing up to those basic..
MR. FRASER: I think you want to get the best out of each question
and not recognising the fact that taxes are very much lower than
they have been. And, you know, you'r * e running the risk of doing
what so often seems to happen when you and I get on an interview,
you want me to say something and you stick on that point, or try to
and, you know, you generally fail to get me to say what you want
me to say, and why should I?
WILLESEE: Yes I do generally fail, but I just feel that in the
public ' interest, if I put a question that is important I should
get the answer.
WILLESEE: So having gone through the painful exercise of the
interview, you then edit it into the best shape you can, that's
Vour job, you edit it fairly and honestly, that's not just your
job, that's necessary for survival. You have done maybe 30 interviews
with Prime Ministers in your time, edited about 28 of the 30, and
y ou're still surviving, but now you find yourself accused of being
unfair, your credibility is questioned, even though you have never
broken an election promise in your whole life.
Let me say this seriously. We were not unfair ' to Mr. Fraser and
he knows it. None of the radio or newspaper reports on this
matter today bothered to use the ten minuted we edited out. You see,
it was boring, repetit * ive, it would have been unprofessional to use
it, and more than that, you would have had to watch it or turn off.
I'll give Mr. Fraser a bit of free advice stop being so bloody
aloof, stop treating journalists as the natural enemy, talk to the
people, not dowm at them, face facts, be man enough to admit when
you are wrong, and stop kidding yourself that one beer in a pub
with a flock of photographers on hand makes you one of the boys.
It doesn't. And if you want to come back for another interview,

Transcript 5069