PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 5304


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: 21/03/1980

Release Type: Press Conference

Transcript ID: 5304

S c-,[ f77
Prime Minister Muldoon:
We have circulated a communique which has attached to it an annex,
and I think perhaps we simply now make ourselves available for
Question: Prime Minister, do you anticipate a further meeting between yourself
and Mr Fraser in the next six to 12 months to review progress?
Prime Minister Muldoon:
Well, if you look to 12 months I would say probably, yes. But the
next ministerial meeting will be what would normally have been the
NAFTA meeting which we are now putting further ahead and thinking in
terms of about the middle of July and that would be in Canberra.
Probably the New Zealand ministers would be Mr Talboys and
Mr Adam Schneider.
When can you expect to be in a position to Tmak e decisions on an industry by
industry basis a specific decision?
Prime Minister Fraser:
It is not possible, I think, to put a timetable on that. A process
of consultation with State governments and with industries will have
to take place and that could take a little longer in Australia than
New Zealand because doesn't have the complication with States.
And in something of this kind, we would clearly want to carry the
States with us. It will be on the agenda for the Premiers' Conference
but I am not suggesting that Premiers will be able to or will have to
make final decisions at that point. How far we can take it will depend
unon the discussions and consultations up to that time between now
and the end of June. Then when our deputy Prime Ministers meet in
July, they will be able to report on the basis of the discussions up to
that point, the basis of reactions of the States up to that point,
lh* i'. ul it might be possible to get a clearer understanding
of a future time scale.
Question: Prime Minister can you sum up in laymen's terms what you think has
been accomplished today?
Prime Minister Fraser:
Yes, Australia and New Zealand have always had a very close
relationship, and there are many obvious reasons for that. Over the
last several years there has been a real attempt through NAFTA to
bring the trading relationship closer together but it appears that
NAFTA is running up against some difficulties, In a sense, easier
progress under NAFTA has been made. would probably be very
difficult for the trading relationship to become as close as Many
would want under the NAFTA arrangement Therefore, officials really

Prime Minister Fraser: ( cant.)
over much of the last two years, since Mr Talboys visited Nareen in
March of two years ago, and other discussions I had had with the
Prime Mini ster in Lusaka, especially since then, there has been a
very great amount of work undertaken by officials, supervised by
ministers, to try and work out an alternative approach. Now, the
Prime Minister and I believe that there is enough merit in that
alternative approach to have the whole matter put in a number of
specific areas to real and specific study. If what we both hope
proves to be successful, it will represent a watershed in
New Zealand/ Australian relationships. We will, in fact, have ended
up by taking decisions which will, bring the economies and financial
arrangements in both countries much closer together than would ever
have been possible under arrangements existing up to this point.
It will give us both the advantage under those circumstances of the
larger domestic market which in a sense will then be enlarged to
17 18 million rather than being more confined to our own markets.
We don't look upon it as an inward looking arrangement. The objective
is an outward looking one because if the New Zealand and Australian
economies can be stronger as a result of arrangemients we make between
ourselves, then we can better play the part that we would want to
whether it is in the Pacific or South East Asia in terms of broader
trading relaitionships.
The world is becoming more competitive. It is important for both of
us to be able to sell more in the markets of the world, not just to
each other, and greater freedom of trade between New Zealand and
Australia should be providing it is accomplished a good first
step in enabling us both to sell better and more effectively on
world markets. And that leads to a stronger New Zealand and a stronger
Australia. But, if the broad principals that, as we see it, which
seem to be acceptable, if this proves to be acceptable to the two
countries as the detailed studies unfold over the next period, then
we will have launched a venture which will be very important indeed
in the future of New Zealand and in the future of Australia.
Question: Prime Minister, there were quite a few ' ifs' in your comments in
your comments. How difficult is it going to be to get this closer
Prime Minister Fraser:
There have to be ' ifs' because it depends upon studies. But what
we have decided to this point is that we think there is enough in it
of real merit to pursue those studies with vigour and with acommitment
to try and make it all work. _ It is not a standof
f sort of approach that we have. ' J7e be1ieve that Thle approach has
merit, we want to make it work, but detailed studies are needed in the
areas that are highlighted in the statement and in the annex, so that
sound and firm decisions can in fact, be made. In the process of
those studies, obviously industries have to be consulted and in our
case, State governments have to be consulted.
Question: Do you see this as a development of a Pacific economic forum? / 3

Prime Minister Muldoon:
I don't know that we discussed it precisely in those terms. Obviously
what we were doing today we putting a political content to what has
previously been an officials' discussion, and Mr Fraser and I have
to do that. We have to say -and I use the word ' political' in the
broadest sense--we have to say, is this acceptable to our peopletaking
the Australian and New Zealand people all together, and indeed
separately in the two countries. I think the answer to that is that
it can well be. We have had, certainly in New Zealand I think, very
very good acceptance of the principal. We have had acceptance from
the various interest groups, the farming community, the Manufacturers'
Federation, the public at large there has been a lot of public
interest in it and at this stage, I think the appeal is there.
People in this country want to see a closer economic relationship
with Australia.
Now, today we have answered the question, where are the problems?
Are they insurmountable? The answer to that is no-, they are not
insurmountable. Question: Could I ask Mr Fraser and Mr Muldoon the same thing. It seems to me
that none of what is in this communique is likely to lead to anything
you could describe as economic union. Are the two countries now
backing away from that concept?
Prime Minister Fraser:
It is not backing away because I don't know that there has ever been
proposed. It is true that officials have examined a number of options
that might be open to New Zealand and Australia in pursuing a closer
relationship. It seemed to officials, and it seems to us, that the
approach that is embraced in the communique and in the annex represent
the best opportunity of achieving a much much closer trading relationship
and economic relationship than we have ever had, a closer
relationship than could be achieved inder the present approach.
And that, therefore, is a good and constructi ve thing in its own right.
As I said before, it is designed to strengthen both economies and
enable us to take part in a sometimes difficult world more effectively
than would otherwise be the case. So, I don't think it is really
a realistic way of looking at it to say it is backing away from the
concept it is a tremendous step forward from what we have at the
present time. And I hope it can be lcoke& at in that light.
Question: _ 11r Muldoon, are the difficulties more on the Australian side or on
the New Zealand side?
Prime Minister Muldoon:
You're determined to have these difficulties, aren't you, I couldn't
assess that, we made no formal assessment.
Question: Apart from the provisions of information through the normal diplomatic
channels, this is intended to brief the forum countries and the
ASEAN countries specifically on what you have been talking about today.

Prime Minister Fraser:
No, I think that is a different concept. Here we have got something
that is specific, it has got form to it, and that studies will show
whether we can both put it into effect. And that will depend upon
determination by both governments and it will depend upon a belief
that that closer arrangement will be good for both countries, and I
think we have that belief.
I have said in other forums that the idea of a Pacific community
is a good one, and we are arranging a seminar in Australia as a result
of-discussions that we have had with a number of people in Japan, and
others. It is an idea that has to have shape and form given to it,
and nobody at this point knows what they mean by it. So, it is not
related to it and not part of it.
Question: Mr Muldoon, can we have your assessment of the way you have seen the
developments today?
Prime Minister Muldoon:
I think we have made progress. We have certainly answered the question
that we had-in front of us, and that was, is it worth doing more work?
Does the proposal appear to have sufficient merit to detailed work
with a view to bringing it together, and the answer is yes. In the I
course of the day we have highlighted a number of potential stumbling
blocks and difficulties and I don't propose to indicate what they
are because we have got to find a way around them. I think we come
out of our discussions with optimism that this proposal can be brought
together, while recognising that it will not be easy in every respect.
Question: Is there a time scale for the bringing together of that proposal?
Prime Minister Muldoon:
Not really. The time scale at the moment is to see how much we can
do before the next ministerial meeting and carry on after that
there will be more work required after that. Prime Minister Fraser an~ d
I will meet again in New Delhi in September at least, and we might takE
the opportunity of having a word or two on this at that Regional
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. That, I guess, will be
the next time that we will meet, but if we need any more meetings, we
will have them.
Question: Could you at least give us an idea of the areas of difficulties?
Prime Minister Muldoon:
No. Question: You have put some emphasis on the importance of public acceptance
of what you have been talking about. Could I ask you, and also if I
may, Mr Fraser, what you felt today the talks about whether this
would be acceptable to the public?

Prime Minister Muldoon:
It goes further. It goes further but it is not incompatible with
NAFTA. Question: inaudible?
Prime Minister Muldoon:
I don't think so. It may, as I said, NAFTA may have to, or may, in
fact, develop in line with this, but there is no necessity for
NAFTA to be altered simply because of this. None that I am aware of.
Question: The communique mentions the most favourable treatment possible
for each other's citizens, Was passport control discussed today?
Prime Minister Muldoon:
Just in passing. Obviously it has come up as an issue in Australia
within the last week,. and so we made passing reference to it, but
we are both;-I think, committed to what is in the communique.
Prime Minister Fraser:
Perhaps I could explain that for those who might not be aware
of the background. A Royal Commission into drugs did raise the
prospect of travel across the Tasman, and a possible need, indeed
there is a recommendation related to it, to re-establish a much
greater control than has existed for a long while. The Government
hasn't given that detailed examination yet. We would want to try
and find other ways of achieving the objectives of the Royal Commission
if we can. We will be discussing this amongst ourselves in Australia,
and with the appropriate departments in New Zealand. Our objective
will * be to meet the objectives of the problems indicated by the
Royal Commission, but in a way that at the same time, maintains
the free movement of people. Now, how that is precisely done, you
will have to bear with us for a while, but that is the objective.
In other words, we don't want to go back to a system of passport
controls since, for so long, there has been a free movement. But,
we do have to take account of the considerations of the Royal
Commission. Question: You want more control, but not necessarily of passports?
Prime Minister Fraser:
Let's see. The Royal Commission raised a problem. What we would like
to do is overcome that problem without re-establishing passport
controls and inhibiting the movement of people between New Zealand
and Australia. Now, we hope that is possible. If it is not, we are
going to have to talk to New Zealand about it, and we can't take it
any further than that at the moment.
Question: Was there any agreement to set up formally a study group between the S ./ 8

Prime Minister Muldoon:
We have sent a message this afternoon to our representatives in these
various countries setting out what we have been doing, and they will
communicate with the governments of the various countries that you
refer to. At this stage, it would not be proposed to send a minister,
but we will certainly keep them close to what is developing.
Mr Fraser, what differences in the two economies do you see as
causing difficulties in moving towards greater economic closeness?
Prime Minister Fraser:-
I don't think it is difficulties in the two economies,
Question: Differences? Prime Minister Fraser:
Well, I was going to say, it is not differences in the economies as
such. But there are, I suppose when you are trying to bring two
separate countries closer together, there are some things that have
developed over a long period of time, through the course of this
century. where they can be competitive interests,. I think it is
important for Australia to understand. areas of sensitivity for
New Zealand, and for New Zealand to understand areas of sensitivity
for us. These sorts of things will again emerge, and if, as I believe
we have we both have a commitment to making the process work because
we believe it will be advantageous to both countries,. then clearly,
if there are difficulties for one, the others, I believe, would want
to be as helpful as possible in relation to it.
So it is a question of two countries that have grown up in part
competitive, just because we have grown up as two countries. There are
inevitably, therefore, some difficulties in achieving a much closer
economic and trading relationship which is, on the reading of thedocument,
really designed to see that trade can flow across the
Tasman free of tari ff and import licencing barriers. That obviously,
in some areas, involves signficant steps. The consequences of it need
to be assessed very thoroughly and very carefully, and we need to make
sure that there is as broad a consensus as possible in both countries,
that the moves are going to be to the advantage of those countries.
Because the Prime Minister indicated that obviously there can be some
difficulties both countries need to understand that the potential
advantages to both infinitely outweigh a potential difficulty.
Question: There seems to be a suggestion from the Australian side that moves
towards closer economic co-operation are attempts to help solve some
of the economic problems. Has either Prime Minister said that..
Prime Minister Fraser:
I don't know who has made that suggestion, It was a suggestion containe
in a question, but the substance of the question. I would reject as
being . part of Australia's motivation or ideas. I believe it is a proces
that wvill aanable bo) th econornies, both countries, to be economically stronger

than they would otherwise be, both countries to be more competitive
than they would otherwise be, and therefore would enable both
countries to sell in world markets more effectively than they otherwis
would. I take that as a large part of the purpose because there is
no ultimate future, Zor New Zealand, 1 or ' us+ trali a in just lookingath
New Zealand/ Australian market whether those markets are regarded as
two or whether it is a combined market. Our futures are basically going
to be outRairri *-and depend upon our capacity to sell in the wider world
markets in many, many countries. The more effectively we can do that,
the better we will advance, both New Zealand and Australia.
Question: Mr Fraser, while you are talking about trade, can I ask your reaction
to the settlement of the wool strike in Australia?
Prime Minister Fraser:
I have got nothing to add to what Mr Nixon said. But I really think it
is a bit of an extraneous subject for the moment.
Question: Mr Fraser, do you see any merit in the establishment of some sort of
permanent secretariat as was proposed in the original Canberra pact?
Prime M1inister Fraser:
I don't want to speak about specifics. I don't think that makes sense
at the moment. The relationship between officials of both countries
is very close, and I think the documents we have before us and the
work that has been done in preparation for the meeting today, indicateE
how well they do, in fact, work. NOW, whether there are any structural
changes of an administrative kind that come out of these relationships
as they move forward, let's wait and see, but let's not prejudge it.
Question: Mr Muldoon, how does one now deal with NAFTA2, Do we assume that it
has been phased out? Do we talk about NAFTA talks any more or what
do we talk about?
Prime Minister Muldoon:
No, we don't assume that is has been phased out, NAFTA is still there,
it is still working, it is very valuable, and it will continue.
These discussions came out of the fact that it was becoming more
and more difficult to expand the scope, the range of NAFTA. I have
seen a number of references, more or less in the terms of the question
that this will replace NAFTA. No, this will supplement NAFTA, and
when we talk of economic union, that is wrong too. This is an exercise
in economic co-operation to extend the area of economic co-operation
between Australia and New Zealand. It will supplement NAFTA and
NAFTA will remain. NAFTA will develop, it may even expand as time
goes by, but it certainly won't phase out or be replaced by what
we are talking about.
Question: How can that be if this,.. inaudible...? .7

Question: ( cont.)
two countries on passport. inaudible?
Prime Minister Fraser:
It is too early for that at the moment. It is our Royal Commission.
It is relating to our affairs, and we have to work that through, and
at that point, we will be ready to talk with New Zealand about it.
Question: was there any discussion about giving each other favourable treatment
in the development and sharing of energy resources? Given high world prices:
Prime Minister Fraser:
We didn't speak at great length about particular energy matters.
The Prime Minister and I had discussed these matters very briefly
when I was passing through some time ago on the developments that
are occurring in both countries. But it hasn't gone beyond that.
Question: Was there anything that you two Prime Ministers found to disagree
with as a result of discussions that have gone on between the two?
Prime Minister Muldoon:
Disagree with the officials recomnmendations, you mean
Question: Yes. Prime Minister Muldoon:
I wouldn't think too much, no. Of course, bear in mind that both
governments have been close to the officials Ls they have done thi~ s
work and perhaps had some influence on what went into the final
proposals, but, no I think no specific disagreement. As I said
earlier, we highlighted the points of difficulty on which work has
to be done but we are not really at the stage of agreement or
disagreement on detail. We are really at the stage of saying is
it worth going ahead, and the answer is yes. We don't disagree
on that. a

Prime Minister Fraser:
If I could just add briefly to the point the Prime Minister made.
Ministers have been involved in it at different stages, right
throughout . so it is not as though officials are suddenly presenting
something to governments... Indeed,, as a result of officials' talks
a few weeks ago, both cabinets have looked at the matter. As a result
of those examinations, officials were asked to meet again earlier
this week, which they have done. I suppose we were trying to make
sure that when we did meet, most of the wrinkles were out of it.
Prime Minis-ter Muldoon:
I think that is right. There is another area that is where the work
will have to be done, and that is, consultations with interested
parties, interest groups. We would get close to the interest groups
in this country, and I think the same occurred in Australia. But now
we are getting down to more specific considerations there, we will have
to work with the various interest groups.
Question: Mr Fraser, has there been any consultation with the State governments?
Prime Minister Fraser:
Not very much, no. There has been some communication with governments
that have shown an interest and said they want to be consulted, and
up to this point, the answer has been that it is too early, because
we had to make up our minds with New Zealand whether or not we were
going to try and set a process in train. Well, from now of course,
we will be very closely in touch with State governments, and seeking
their support for the concept for the objectives.
Question: Mr Fraser, did you and Mr Muldoon discuss the. question of an Olympic
Games boycott?
Prime Ministe'. r Fraser:
We have discussed that on other occasions.
Question: Did you raise that matter at all?
Prime Minister Fraser:
No, not today.

Question: inaudible
Prime M~ inister Fraser:
Some, yes. But there were some confidential ones amongst them, but
you wouldn't be surprised, though, surely.
Question: What about the non-confidential ones?
Prime Minister Fraser:
I think we have spoken about most of the non-confidential ones.
Prime Minister Muldoon:
I think most of those would come into what we have been talking about
here. The peripheral areas of the trans-Tasman relationship, or the
trans-Tasman economic relationship. I think that covers most of itnot
quite all. There were one or two things that, for particular
reasons, can't be disclosed at the moment. But there is no great
secret about it.
Question: . inaudible...
Prime Minister. Muldoon.:
You're still on these stiibling blocks, area't you. The people
who attend my press conference regularly know that I never permit
them to get to answers by a process of elimination.
Question: Mr Fraser, did you make any suggestions to Mr, Muldoon about economic
policies . inaudible...?
Prime Minister Fraser:
No, why would I ever want to do that?
Prime Minister Muldoon:
My word, if he has got any ideas I would welcome them, along with most
heads of government around the world.
Question: There is mention in the communique of sound economic policies between
the countries.
Prime Minister Muldoon:
That is exactly what we have. 9./. 11

Question: Could I ask you, Mr Muldoon the Prime Minister o0f Australia spoke
about a passport control, and that sort of thing. Could I ask you
just briefly, what do you think of the findings of the Williams
Report, that New Zealanders are notable for their involvement in
large scale activities involving illegal importation of drugs to
Australia, and the trafficking of such drugs in Australia? Why
New Zealanders?
Prime Minister Tluldoon:
T~ blyou had better ask him, he wrote it,
Question: Do you think there is anything special about that * Are you worried
about the reputation of your country?
Prime Minister Muldoon:
No, not really, not in that sense. It is true that a very large
drug ring has recently been broken up or broken itself up by killing
each other,-and it was to some considerable extent, New Zealanders
not entirely, thefh-ad a few Australians working for them. But, no,
I don't think you can move from that to a general theory that
New Zealand is a nation of drug peddlers and drug addicts. In fact,
our involvement with hard drugs is rather less than almost any other
country of our type around the world. You asked me about this report
suggest you ask the man who wrote it.
Question: Does you government have any information on.. . inaudible?
Prime Minister-Muldoon:
A certain amount. Most of it has been made public.
What did it show?
Prime minister Muldoon:
Well, you read the papers, don't you? You read about these people
who have been killing each other Marty Johnson and those fellows
who change their names to disguise themselves and so on, It is
mainly public knowledge.
Question: Dc you have any....

Prime Minister Muldoon:
I would think that the subject is worth pursuing. Has New Zealand
a reputation as a drug centre? You can make up your own mind on that.
If you asked me about cricket I would be prepared to answer you,
because we have quite a reputation in cricket these days.
Question: Have you got any attitude on the need for more travel control?
Prime Minister Muldoon:
Well, we hope we can avoid it. This goes back to the very beginning
of the history of both countries, and it has always been free passage
across the Tasman. But I hope we can avoid it, but obviously if the
Australian government wants to talk to us about it, as a result
of this report, we would be very happy to talk. We have discussed
it in the past, indeed quite recently.
Prime Minister Fraser:
Well, we hope we can avoid it too. What ever problems might
have arisen, as a result of that report, we hope they can be
solved without them.

Transcript 5304