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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 6612


Photo of Hawke, Robert

Hawke, Robert

Period of Service: 11/03/1983 to 20/12/1991

More information about Hawke, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 15/03/1985

Release Type: Press Conference

Transcript ID: 6612

PM: Well let's commence.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister will we have a mini-Budget?
PM: No we won't have a mini-Budget. It may well be that we'll
have an early announcement of some decision so that we can aet the
full year revenue benefits, or expenditure restraints I should say
that's the right way of putting it. And I assume that we'll
have the full support of an Opposition who talks about the
necessity of bringing down the Budget deficit. I expect their
full support. I'll have to wait to see who announces the support
and then if there's any qualification to the announcement for the
support, but we live in hope.
JOURNALIST: Well Prime Minister given that the Labor Party in
Opposition helped to block the Fraser Governments sales tax
legislation, do you believe Oppositions should give carte-blanche
to the Government.
PM: I believe that a duly elected Government should be allowed to
discharge its mandate. What I don't know about what I believe is
what the Opposition's position will be. It really is a very sad
picture that has emerged with the Leader of the Opposition taking
a position in which he believes and then being overtaken by the
right wing of his Party. There's no certainty any more in
Opposition, we don't know who's in control or who's in charge. It
is a very sad picture to see the crumbling of the position of the
Leader of the Opposition in this way.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke will the Government proceed with its
initiative on Kampuchea?
PM: Yes we will. There is no reason, nothing has happened as to
why we should not proceed upon that course because the elements
that made it sensible in April 1983, when I discussed the matter
with Bill Hayden and we agreed that that course was sensible,
those elements remain valid. And that is that Australia almost
uniquely has the capacity to talk with all the countries who have
a direct or indirect interest in what is happening in Indo-China.

JOURNALIST: Do we still have that capacity in vieaw of the rather
harsh comments by ASEAN countries and by China too of the three
vital components of the situation of about how..
PM: Well let's take the two categories in turn. You talk about
ASEAN comments. I think if you look at the comments that were
made by them after Mr Hayden's return to Thailand, they were not
harsh comments. And indeed I've had the opportunity of talking
with Bill since he's come back and he's talked to me directly
about the conversations that he did have after his visit to
Vietnam. And the judgement I therefore make both in terms of the
public statements that have been made by ASEAN leaders and Mr
Hayden's comments to me don't lead me to the conclusion that any
difficulty exists in our relationship with ASEAN either generally
or in respect of the position that we've adopted on this
initiative. In regard to China well, there was some relatively
harsh comments made, but I believe that when Mr Hu Yaobung comes
here in a matter of a few weeks we will be able to dispel any
substantive concerns that they may have.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what's your view of Mr Hayden's
handling of the Asian trip.
PM: I believe that Mr Hayden has acted honestly and with
integrity. I believe that Mr Hayden has indicated that he has
been misled. Now I guess in this world it's easy enough on
occasions to be misled. I have full confidence in Bill Hayden as
Foreign Minister. He has from April 1983, when I first raised
this concept with him, worked assiduously, he's earned the respect
I believe of all the parties involved and I don't believe that
that respect and authority that he's established has in any
substantial way been diminished.
J -OURNALIST: Did the intelligence community let Mr Hayden down by
not giving him adequate information as to what was happening on
the Thai/ Kampuchea border.
PM: Well you know well at least you should know if you've been
around the place long that it's a very clear and unshakeable
principle that I do not go into matters of intelligence at all.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke turning to your speech last night you
emphasised the difficulties of getting consensus on tax reforms.
How seriously do you rate the possibility of the Government being
forced to back-off making substantial changes to the tax structure
because of lack of consensus.
PM: I don't think it's likely, but I believe always that it's
b-est to be direct and frank about the dimensions of the task that
one is undertaking in Government. And what I'm really trying to
say to the Australian community is that this is a matter for the
community as much as it is for Government. It's no good people
simply saying the existing system is not satisfactory. They have
to be prepared to participate so that Government can know that an

alternative thrust is going to have the acceptance of a
substantial proportion of the community. Because as I explained
last night, if you don't do that then in net terms the stability
and welfare of the community is likely to be lessened. And
therefore we will discharge our responsibilities, as I said last
night Michelle. Our responsibilities are to detail the nature of
the operation of the existing system, to expose its inadequacies,
its inequities, its lack of simplicity, its lack of economic
efficiency as an instrument of economic policy. We will do that.
We will also have the responsibility of outlining alternative
packages that could be considered as a means to get a better
system. Now Government will discharge those responsibilities and
we'll discharge them in a way that has never been done by
Government before. Then the community has to respond and be
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister doesn't the Government have a duty to
proceed with tax reforms if it sees that's in the national
interest even if it can't get consensus.
PM: I haven't used the word consensus.
JOURNALIST: even if you can't get broad agreement?
PM: The premise of the question is not operative.
JOURNALIST: So have you considered not going ahead with the tax
PM: No.
JOURNALIST: It is said, Prime Minister, that the community has to
respond and be involved. H-ow do you envisage that the community
will in fact respond and be involved.
PM: There'll be a number of ways. The process has already
sgtarted. EPAC has received a very large number of responses from
individuals and organisations. We'll be having a meeting of EPAC
at the end of this month to consider those responses. So the
broard based community representatives in EPAC will be involved in
the process of trying to begin to shape attitudes to assess the
material that's been put in. We will then be producing the White
Paper before the Summit. We hope to get responses to that,
substantial responses. Then we'll have the Summit itself. And
then we'll undergo the process of final consideration in the light
of all those inputs that we'll get. Now that's a detailed
approach. It's one which gives a very considerable opporunity to
the community and organisations large and small to express their
JOURNALIST: At this stage do you foresee that the Government
itself will put a proposal for tax reform to the Summit?

PM: No I don't think we would put a final position in the sense
of saying well, there it is, we've made up our mind. Because I've
tried to say all along, Peter, that the Summit is not a charade.
I mean we really want to use it to get an interchange of views.
We believe that we can be helped by the Summit. As I've expressed
it, I think the Government will form sort of prima facie
preferences, if I can put it that way, which we think may meet the
criteria of efficiency, equity and simplicity. But we are open to
persuasion and argument as to better alternatives.
JOURNALIST: What's your assessment of the Queensland power
legislation. How are you going to respond to pleas to help..
PM: Well I think the legislation is not consistent with the
conventions of the International Labour Organisation. I believe
it reflects an approach to industrial relations which is counterproductive
and is more likely to produce disputes than to settle
them. And in a way it's a sad thing to see that in the
economically worst managed State in Australia that is,
Queensland with easily the worst level of unemployment, very
incompetent economic management, just doesn't stand in comparison
with any other State in Australia that in those dire
circumstances where they are doing worse than the national average
and worse than any other State in terms of economic performance
that the situation is likely to be made worse by this legislation.
JOURNALIST: Is there potential for a Franklin dam re-run..
PM: I don't think so.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister the National Farmers Federation is
strongly opposed to the introduction of a capital gains tax.
Given this, how do you believe that you can in fact get broadbased
community support for such a tax without possibly the
PM: Well as I made clear last night broad based community support
' d-esn't mean that every single element in the community
support every single element of the package. Just let me _= nswer
the question in a hypothetical sense because no decisions '. 3ve
been made in that area. It is conceivable that you could ae a
form of capital gains tax which would take account of
concerns-of the farming community as to the adverse affectS of
such a tax in the rural sector. Now I say that not to be
interpreted as saying we have decided upon a capital gains tax
with certain exceptions. I simply say as an economist th= t that
sort of thing is possible. But I repeat the basic point that I
make in talking about broad based agreement I made it qui te
clear last night that you couldn't expect that you were go-: ng to
get every section of the community to agree on every elemen~ t of a
package. I said that in any package that emerged there would be
some winners in regard to some component, some losers in regard to
some components, but overall the community would be winner.

. JOURNALIST: Do you think Mr Risstrom is furthering the cause of
tax reform by the contributions that he is making?
PM: Well I think the interesting thing that will develop
bgetween now and the Summit, Mike, is that Mr Risstrom is going to
be exposed to pretty rigorous analysis by experts in the process
leading up to and at the Summit. I mean, to this point Mr
Risstrom has expressed his views, as we want him to express them,
but he hasn't been subject to rigorous analysis. And I just have
a bit of a feeling that when subject to that rigorous analysis and
cross-examination some of the rather easy observations of Mr
Risstrom might not stand up quite so well.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, you again emphasised last night the need
for substantial spending cuts in this Budget and you also in
proportionate terms gave your aim for the next deficit. Can you
give us some indication of the magnitude of the spending cuts that
you are looking for?
PM: Well I don't intend to go to a specific figure. All I
want to say is this that through the application of the elenents
of the trilogy and the Budget preparation, there will be in
respect of the deficit, both a reduction in the deficit as a
proportion of the GDP and a significant reduction in the money
level of the deficit.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, do you intend reintroducing
university fees tertiary education fees?
PM: I don't make the decisions of government. So I don't
h-ave, you know, an intention of doing one thing or the other. The
clear answer to your question, Ken, is that obviously this is
going to be an issue which is going to be discussed and I th--ink it
is equally not the best kept state secret that there are sone
divergence of views between certain Minister. I am not going to
express a view now. I will take part in the discussion when it
arises in the Cabinet.
JOURNALIST: Isn't there an election promise that this would
not happen and if so why is your Government considering bre:;-.-_ na
that promise?
PM: The overwhelming responsibility of the Government iS to
The economic welfare of the community to stimulate growth at Low
levels of inflation and that requires the application of the three
elements of the trilogy. That is the pre-eminent undertaki:-. i
have given to the Australian community and within the achievemnent
of that objective then, I believe any matter that Ministers want
to put on the table which are consistent with the application of
that trilogy are legitimate to be considered.
JOURNALIST: JOURNLiIfS Ti: tE vmeena ns breaking promises?

PM: Well, you have a range of issues to which you direct
yourself and you have got to get your priorities and I put as my
overwhelming priority and that of the Government to get growth, to
get jobs, and we are doing that through the application of our
policies. The employment figures yesterday show that we are ahead
of target in creating a half a million new jobs in the three
years. My judgement is, Laurie, that if the Australian co. mmunity
are asked what is the number one priority it is the creation of
jobs, the reduction of unemployment. Now, the simple facts are
that that is not something that can be done by simply saying you
would like it to happen. You have got to make hard decisions in
terms of economic management to achieve that result. We have been
doing that. We have got outstandingly successful results. And I
believe the community will welcome economic decisions by this
Government which are going to continue that process. And ifL that
means in respect of some undertakings that they have had to give
way to that central priority, I think the community will accept
it. All that, I may say, is said not on the assumption that the
particular issue you are talking about will in fact take place.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, you have set targets for the reducing of
expenditure for next year. Now that the ERC committee is well
under way in its deliberations, are you confident of achieving
those targets?
PM: We will achieve the targets that are necessary in the area
ofreductions of government expenditure to achieve the trilogy.
Yes, we will do that. I am'quite confident.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, how do you answer fears that there
is not enough information in the community, or about the community
to really make tax reform meaningful in terms of the provisions of
equity which a lot of people would like to see implemented?
PM: What was the last bit?
JOURNALIST: The provisions of equity.
PM: Oh equity. I am sorry, I didn't hear. Well we are doing
that by the work that we are undertaking now. We will be . vn
discussions with wide ranging representative groups in the
community, through EPAC and in other ways and out of all t.-et will
come a ve ry detailed white paper which will give an unprec=-Jented
exposure of the operation of the existing system, the ineoa-ties
of the existing system. And I believe thiose who are intere-Srec
will have an opportunity that they have never had before in-t~ h e
history of this country to understand how the existing sys--em
works and will have presented to them a range of alternati, ies that
will have as one of the criteria involved, the criterion of:
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what prompted your Government to
vote last week at the United Nations Human Rights Commission in
support of a review of alleged human rights abuses in East Timor?

Has your Government got some evidence of an increasing incidence
of this in East Timor?
PM: I haven't discussed this matter in detail with Mr Hayden,
but clearly the situation was one where it led to a conclusion
that that course of action was the appropriate one. And, as I
have indicated before, I have full confidence in my Foreign
Minister and clearly the decision that was taken there was one
which was believed to be warranted on the evidence available.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, what has happened to the wealth enquiry?
PM: The enquiry at the ANU, you mean?
PM: We are still in the process of making a decision as to
w; hat resources should be made available to that and when.
JOURNALIST: When will you announce details?
PM: I'm not sure.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you said you would like to see a
reduction in the nominal deficit next financial year.
PM: No, I have said much more than that. I didn't say I would
like to. I said it will happen.
JOURNALIST: Right. So have you in fact decided on a targetfigure?
PM: Yes.
JOURNALIST: Is it correct that it is around $ 6 billion?
PM: I'm not going to a figure.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, have you decided yet where ASIO
will live and whether they are going to get ( inaudibke)
PM: No, Laurie. We haven't made a final. decision on that, but
we will be making one in the very near future.
JOURNALIST: What is the next step now in the process of trying
to achieve a settlement to Kampuchea?
PM: Well Mike, I think while it sounds a bit banal, it is
nevertheless true, that it just is a continuing process of the
varying parties trying to develop positions in a way which
hopefully can get the two sides, if you can put it that way,
sufficiently close together to enable a substantial conference to
take place. As I said before, when Hu Yaobung comes here in a few
weeks time I will be talking with him then amongst other things,

about Indo-China and it is not one of those issues any more than
the Middle East is, if you ' Like, where there is some magic
formula. I mean, if it were there, it would have been arrived at
earlier. You have got a situation where you have got so many
elements which militate against an acceleration of a conclusion.
You have got the centuries old antagonisms between China and
Vietnam. You have got the horrendous memories associated with the
period of the Pol Pot regime in Kampuchea. You have got the
apprehensions amongst some of the ASEAN States in regard to China.
Now when you have got that mixture of deep and long-standing,
either antagonisms or apprehensions, then what is really involved
is the slow process of trying to get the people involved to
understand that all their interests are going to be better served
if you can have peace in the region rather than the waste of so
much resources in this mutual antagonistic set piece that has
emerged. Now, therefore, the answer to your question is that
without, as I repeat, over-emphasising our capacities in this
matter we will just keep talking to the parties involved in the
hope that we may be able to play some small part in that s'. ow
process of bringing the sides sufficiently close together see
that there would be some chance in an actual conference of
producing a resolution. But I don't see that and I never have
seen that, of something capable of being achieved quickly.
PM: The left always wins out over so you say.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, have you considered the Beazley/ Hawke
* paper on ANZUS and..
PM: The Beazley/ Hawke paper?
JOURNALIST: Oh Beazley/ Hayden paper on ANZUS and also when
will a public statement be made on that subject?
PM: Well we haven't got the Beazley/ Hayden paper yet. I would
q expect it to be coming very shortly and when it comes the Cabinet
will consider it. I don't feel any sense of immediate urgency.
The issues involved are important and are being thorougly
considered by the two Minister. I have made it quite clear to the
people of Australi-a that the relationship between Australia and
the United States is in the firmest possible shape. We have
announced the meeting that we will be having in July here in
Australia between ourselves and Mr Shultz and officials. So
everything is in place. Mr Beazley is going to New Zealand at the
end of this month so the bilateral relations with New Zealand are
proceeding satisfactorily. What has become quite clear and it
should have been clearer to some people earlier in the piece is
that as far as Australia's national interests are concerned, this
Government has from the very outset of the problem created by the
New Zealand decision, acted in a way to protect our interests.
The relationship with the United States is totally and firm and we
will continue the relations with New Zealand in a way which is

: 1 9
necessary between our two countries for the purposes of'our
response to discharging our responsibilities in the region. So
everything is firm and stable and secure.
JOURNALIST: on the Middle East, is the Government
reconsidering or is it likely to reconsider the decision to
withdraw the troops from the Sinai at the end of the year?
PM: The position is quite clear. When we made the decision in
1984, if you read what Mr Hayden has said in the Parliament, that
we believe that we should make an extension for two years because
we were not in any way going to be party to an action which could
be seen or could in fact de-stabilise the region. So we extended
the period for two years and we indicated then that discussions'
would be held with the leadership of the MFO to look for a
replacement. They accepted that. They understood that and those
discussions are, I believe, going on. And I expect that out of
the discussions that are being held a suitable replacement will be
found. We have made it clear at all times, as I said, that we
would not be party to any de-stabilising of the region by our
action. That commitment remains firm.
JOURNALIST: Have you seen or will you be seeing Professor
Kapi tsa?
PM: I saw him in 1979.
JOURNALIST: on his current visit?
PM: On his current visit. Well, as far as I am aware I
haven't received any request from him and in these matters one
always behaves, as you will appreciate, with impeccable propriety.
I mean, I don't ask to see him and I haven't been asked by him to
see him, so at this stage the answer is no.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, have you seen a telex from Premier Burke
for a
PM: Yes I have. I saw one just before I came round here
because some of those advising me thought I may just get a
question about it, so they showed it to me, yes.
JOURNALIST: Do-you have any comment to make on it?
PM: Well, yes. I think that the concept that now the Premier
seems to be talking about that he has clarified of the goc-sense
of looking at as part of the tackling of the youth unemplcn-ment
problem looking at the possibility of community based wo--k as
part of the way in which the community will meet the probli2ms of
unemployed youth that that is a sensible suggestion. An-: indeed
in the wide-ranging analysis that is going to be undertaken by Mr
Willis and Mr Dawkins and Senator Ryan to look at the whole range
of alternatives that we should take into account in dealing witn
this tragic problem of youth unemployment. That will be a concept

that they will be looking at and I am indebted to Premier Burke
for his indication of the readiness of the West Australian
Government to become involved in such an approach not merely by
way of verbal support but, very importantly, by way of financial
support. I welcome that initiative and it will be fed into the
consideration that my three Ministers will be undertaking on this
matter. PM:

Transcript 6612