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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 6621


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: 17/04/1985

Release Type: Press Conference

Transcript ID: 6621

-4~ j A UST> AIA
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the New Zealand Rugby Union team is
going to South Africa.
PM: Yes.
JOURNALIST: Do you have any comment on that.
PM: I think it's very sad. I applauded in the Parliament
yesterday the attempts by Mr Lange to dissuade the New Zealand
Rugby Union from that course of action. I regret that they have
not seen fit to accede to his strong advice in this respect. In
my conversations with Mr Lange today I expressed the hope thatthe
decision would be the other way. I can't understand how those
responsible for the administration of the code there can do
something which is going to cause very very considerable
dissension within New Zealand itself and possibly cause
repurcusslons, adverse repurcussions, for them in other fields
where they seek to compete internationally with other nations,
quite apart, of course, from the basic question of principle that
they can be giving aid and comfort to a rascist regime like that.
JOURNALIST: In view of the decision by the New Zealand Rugby do
you think that Australia should play rugby with New Zealand as
planned, I think, in June or July.
PM: Well, we'd have to give consideration to that and to see
w ; hether in these circumstances that would involve an infringement
of either the letter of the spirit of the Gleneagles Agreement.
We'll have a look at that.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister will you allow the All-Blacks people
to transit in Australia.
PM: We'll have to give consideration to that Laurie. Obviously,
by definition, the matter hasn't arisen until just an hour or so
ago. We'll give consideration..
JOURNALIST: Presumably Prime Minister this strengthens those in
the Australian cricket community who believe that touring South
Africa is acceptable.

PM: Well I don't know whether it would strengthen them or not.
I'd just like to say a couple of things that. You know I gave an
answer in the Parliament yesterday. If it is the case that these
1offers have been made I would certainly express the renewed hope
that those involved should not take any comfort or support from
the decision of the New Zealand Rugby Union. Another point I want
Al to make on it I notice in reading about the rumours, there's
some suggestion that the players who would accept would be
beneficiaries of a very considerable amount of money because it is
said the contracts have been signed in a third country and
negotiated in a way which would avoid the payment of the income
tax in Australia. Can I just say this to those who may be
7 contemplating this offer, because it's been made, that the
Australian Tax Office will be looking extraordinarily closely at
any arrangements with a view to ensuring that tax to be paid in
Australia in that can at all possibly can be done they should not
be contemplating the acceptance of any such offer if they are on
the basis that there will be any slackness as far as the
Australian Taxation authorities are concerned.
JOURNALIST: ( Inaudible)
PM: Well, I would hope that under the existing legislation there
I iwould be sufficient powers, but we'll be looking at it.
JOURNALIST: Sir, if the tour does take place would you be
prepared to take action to prevent it, such as by canc-elling
passports or refusing to issue passports
PM: Well, I think you know the way I always operate. I don't
like to go down the path unnecessarily. And I indeed expect that
as a result of the actions within the cricket community itself
that if there is something in fact nipped here, it can be nipped
in the bud. If against all the policy of the Cricket Board and of
4 the Government, which I repeat has been so overwhelmingly
supported by sportsmen and women and organised sporting bodies in
Australia, if a few cricketers decided to put themselves beyond
the pale, then we would have to look at that. But I'm not going
to hypothesise on that at this stage.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke on a different subject, are you attracted to
the idea of changing the world parity pricing policy to offset the
inflation devaluation.
PM: Michelle, I never cease to admire your tenacity in seeking to
get me to debate my clear rules in these conferences. That's a
matter that will be discussed in the Cabinet shortly and that's
where I'll put my point of view.
JOURNALIST: the Queensland power dispute you claim that the
Premier has deliberately brought about this national blockade is
an extremely serious charge.

PM: Well the Queensland economy is in a very serious state.
Those figures which I read out to the Parliament today are a
devastating indictment of the Queensland Government and the
Queensland Premier gross economic mismanagement, which is
dragging that State down and down. I would think that the
Queensland Government and its Premier wouldn't like the spotlight
to be on their own abysmal incompetence as demonstrated. And this
could be a very handy diversion. But I would just go back to the
basic point that I made again in the Parliament the sensible
thing to do is to sit down and talk. It won't be resolved in any
other way.
JOURNALIST: Well what can you do now that Sir Joh has rejected
your invitation.
PM: Well I suppose wait for good sense to emerge. It's a fairly
slow process up there.
JOURNALIST: Are you attracted to the idea of Federal legislation
of some kind to override aspects of Queensland's..
PM: I'm not attracted to it.
JOURNALIST: Would you consider it.
PM: Well again we're in the hypothetical area. I don't want to
complicate the situation. I've gone as far as saying I'm not
attracted to the id -ea and I maintain the hope that better sense
will prevail up there.
JOURNALIST: The reality is, sir, that you can't really do very
much can you?
PM: Well I've been involved i n industrial relations for a fairly
long time and probably know as much about it as most people in the
country and I can recall on many occasions it being said there's
nothing you can do. There's no industrial dispute in the history
of this country that hasn't been settled. The sensible thing to
realise, if you are concerned with the interests of the people, is
that it's better to settle them early by negotiation than making
an enormous number of people suffer needlessly.
JOURNALIST: This is hardly just an industrial dispute though,
it's more political than industrial.
PM: Well I think obviously, Gary, there are political elements to
i-t. I mean I've made the point that I think there's a large
diversionary element in it. But there would have been political
elements in other disputes too, so it doesn't really take away
from the basic truth of the proposition I make.
JOURNALIST: Senator Macklin's Bill, one-vote-one-value when
will you be deciding your approach to that.

PM: Cabinet will consider that shortly.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister was there any sort of breakthrough on
Kampuchea as a result of your talks with the Chinese and, if so,
can you tell us what..
PM: It wouldn't be right to say a breakthrough, no. But what we
really did together I had some initial talks with the General
Secretary and then I had Bill Hayden in with us. And what we
really did together was to expose our thinking. Bill explained to
the General Secretary the discussions that he'd had with the
Vietnamese and the Kampuchean Prime Minister. And I think it is
fair to say this that we established that we had identical
objectives. And those objectives quite clearly are that we wished
to see the emergence of an independent Kampuchea which would be
able to resume contact in all fields economically, socially and
politically with its neighbours in the region. And that to
achieve that situation there needed to be a total withdrawal of
the Vietnamese forces. The Chinese leadership made it clear that,
and let me say this is not entirely new ground but a
clarification, that they would be prepared to enter into dialogue
when there was a statement of the intention to totally withdraw
and the commencement of the actual withdrawal a real withdrawal
and not the withdrawal of some replaced by others which has
happened in the past that if there was the statement and the
real beginning of a withdrawal they would be prepared to enter
into dialogue on this matter. Mr Hu Yaobang repeated again, and
he had said this to me when I met him last year, that the Chinese
were not looking to the emergence of a Kampuchea ruled by the
Khmer Rouge that what China wanted to see was a Government of
coalition under the leadership of Sihanouk. The Chinese
leadership expressed their satisfaction with gratitude for the
work that Australia had been doing in seeking to open up the
possibilities of dialogue in this area. And, as distinct from
some suggestions that appeared to be in some press reports from
overseas earlier, there is no suggestion of a perception on the
part of Hu Yaobang that he saw some differences between Bill
Hayden and myself. He indeed congratulated Mr Hayden on the
outstanding work that he'd been doing.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, on tax reform, do you think it's practical
to talk about substantial reforms of the tax system without some
form of broadly based indirect tax.
PM: Oh, it's possible to talk about it Mike. I mean I think what
you've got to do in this period is-to try and examine all options
that are available and there must be some option which doesn't
include that. As I've said consistently, you've got to look at
the balance of considerations that apply that's economic
efficiency, equity, simplicity and acceptability. Now those are
all relevant criteria. And if you accept that those are relevant
criteria then I think it's appropriate in the course leading up
to the White Paper and then to the Summit beyond, to have a look
at a variety of packages to see in that process and out of that

process whether one package rather than another is more likely to
satisfy those criteria. And this process is continuing.
JOURNALIST: Mr Keating's view that if Cabinet Members were
presented with information on economic forecasting that they'd
probably leak.
PM: Well I just want to say two things about this. I answered a
question in the Parliament on it and indicated there that I was
considering the correspondence that I'd received from Bill and
Paul and we'll have a look at this in Cabinet. So I don't really
want to say anything more about it other than to make briefly the
second point. And that is to say that I am a student of history
and there is some, let me say, precedent for disclosing it.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, could I just return to Queensland for
moment having seen the way in which conceptions and
misconceptions about the Australian politics can feed into the
exchange rate, aren't you at all concerned that the seemingly
fatalistic conceptions of the governments and the ACTU..
industrial tactics might create the impression abroad that we have
a government that is soft on industrial anarchy?
PM: No, because I still take the view Max that there is an
Tement of rationality in the markets here and overseas and all
they have to do is to look at the record of this Government in
regard to industrial relations. I don't want to bore you again
going into the detail, but it is the fact that under. this
Government's control of and approach to industrial relations this
country has had the best record for 17 years. And it stands in
stark contrast the policies of confrontation that operation in Qld
and therefore the rational judgement to make is that it is better,
you are going to have a better situation in the longer term if you
don't keep on the path of confrontation. Now of course in the
mean time there will be difficulties. And I deplore that fact.
But you have got to have your perspectives right on this and I
believe that the more rational elements of the markets will have
their perspectives right. And the alternative is simple. I mean,
you go back to the earlier period when you had the conservatives
in government, now they attempted the rhetoric of confrontation,
at times they talked about resorting beyond rhetoric to
legislation. But what was their record. It was an abyssmal
record. So if you are looking at what happens to the level of
economic performance, what happens to the impact upon economic
performance of an industrial relations situation. The clear and
indisputable fact is that the approach of the confrontationists
hasn't worked. It has produced worse economic results. The
alternative of our approach, which is not rhetoric about
concensus, but it is practical discussion, negotiations produces
the better economic result. And it would be entirely irrational
for the market to make a judgement which was not reconcilable with
the facts and with the records.

JOURNALIST: Would you have preferred a different approach by the
ACTU, in specifying 51 companies?
PM: Well I am not in the business any more telling the ACTU how
to run its business. We have made it clear to the ACTU that we
would prefer a situation in which there wasn't industrial
confrontation, industrial action and reaction, and that is why I
have behind the scenes and publicly now been trying to get the
Queensland Government to sit down with us and with the ACTU. it
is inevitable I guess that if you have a situation where the
Queensland Government, which is in this dispute on one side, says
it is not going to talk, it is not going to negotiate, it is not
going to discuss, human nature being what it is here, not only in
this country, but around the free world, you are going to have
reaction. And you don't have to be theoretical about this, you
simply have to know your Australian history, know your history of
other countries, and in the end, I repeat, in the end, this
dispute will be resolved as a result of discussion and
negotiation. That is as certain as, I won't use the phrase that
has drifted into the political lexicon recently. He has actually
named a horse that, that is about as successful as he is in some
other respects. It is as certain as anything you like to nominate
that this dispute will finally be resolved by discussion, by
negotiation. The tragedy is-that the Queensland Premier is
determined to spread out the time before that happens and the
spreading out of that time benefits no-one. It is against th~ e
interests of the people of Queensland and it is against the
interests of the people of Australia. And it is ultimately
against the interests of the Queensland Government and all people
and all parties concerned. And that is the tragedy that he is
hell bent on spreading out this spreading before ultimately there
is a negotiation to settle it.
JOURNALIST: When you say the dispute will in fact be resolved, Mr
Hawke, that is on the assumption that there has to . be some change
to Queensland laws
PM: No that assumption is not necessarily correct because the
matter I believe could be resolved without the repeal of the
laws. I mean you can have legislation on the statute book which
is not implemented. And you know that is true in the federal and
in a number of state spheres. So the matter is capable of
resolution without the actual repeal of the legislation.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke can you give us your reaction the defeat in
the WA Legislative Council earlier today of the Burke Government's
land rights legislation and say what your Government now intends
to do about applying national uniform principles to WA?
PM: Well I regret that the attempt by the Western Australian
G overnment to affect some improvement in this area, was defeated
by interests in the Legislative Council which are not reflective
of the, I think, of the view of reasonable people. That they were
not concerned with dealing with this on a consideration of its

merits. It is quite clear that the Western Australian Government,
although'it hadn't come to, in all respects, exactly the same
positions as the Commonwealth has indicated in its model approach,
nevertheless addressed itself to the problems in way which had
involved consultation not only with the aboriginal people but with
the mining industry, the rural industry and it is interesting that
the mining industry in Western Australia supported the legislation
and as I understand it sought to get the Liberal Party and the
others in the Legislative Council to agree. So that indicates I
think the reasonable of approach of the West Australian
Government. But the Liberal Party was not interested in
realities, it was not interested how you could get a
reconciliation of the legitimate interests of the aboriginal
people and of the mining industry. That is of no concern to them.
Like their colleagues here in this place, they are concerned
always with political point scoring, gimmickery. The last thing
on their agenda of politics is the real public interest. They are
the same all over Australia, federally and there. Now, what we
will do is to continue what we are doing. That is, Clyde Holding
has drawn up, not a final bill, it's modelled as a basis for
discussion around Australia with the states, with the aboriginal
people, with mining communities, with the farming communities, and
he will proceed with those discussions and when they have been
taken through to an appropriate point then the Commonwealth will
JOURNALIST: Can I take you back to Mr Lange once more, and
presumably you didn't only discuss rugby, can you give us a
summary of what you did discuss and was there a specifically a reiteration
of each side's position on the nuclear ships question?
PM: Well we discussed a range of issues. I can't go to them all,
ti1me doesn't permit. But we did talk about that issue. I reiterated
the view of the Australian Government, I didn't do it
with heat or fury or venom but just calmly said well we have got
our position and you have got yours, we think we are right.
JOURNALIST: And he said the same?
PM: Well he left me with the impression that he wasn't going to
change his position.
JOURNALIST: Did you repeat the position I think you made in your
January letter to Mr Lange that different interpretations and
obligations under the treaty were I think if I remember rightly
PM: Well I don't recall the exact language but let me say what
the thrust of that letter was and what our position is. We don't
need to depend upon any letter of January or February or any other
date. The position of the Australian Government is quite clear
and indeed it is unequivocal. And that is that we have an
alliance relationship and we believe that under that alliance
relationship the capacity of the ships of the naval vessels of the

United. States to visit our ports is an intrinsic element of that
treaty relationship. We don't take the view that the United
States can have two navies, one for the rest of the world and one
for treaty partner, New Zealand. That is not consistent with any
realities that are seen, in our view. Now, and we have so acted.
Now, the New Zealand Government has a different view. Now they
are entitled to have that. Now we have from the outset not tried
internally or externally to engage in political point scoring.
Again as distinct from our political opponents. Just let me
remind you of the Peacock track record on this one. Last year
what did he say. He said the Australian Government must bring
pressure to bear upon New Zealand. It is totally unacceptable
that they can have this position. Australia and the Australian
Government should negotiate a new treaty with the United States
and if I were there, he said, I would give the New Zealand
Government 3 months, this was in October so they were given till
January, and then after 3 months if they hadn't come to heel, if
they hadn't responded to this hectoring and bullying then the time
had come, there must be bilateral new treaty negotiated with the
United States. Well as in so many things, it is just a pity that
they hadn't stopped their attempt at political point scoring and
thought about the issues and realised what should have been
obvious to any reasonably intelligent person from day one. The
United States wasn't interested in the negotiation of a new
treaty. The position of the United States was identical with the
position of Australia and that is that the treaty should stay in
place, should be there, that if the New Zealand Government acted
in a way which didn't enable the continuation of the normal
operation of the treaty, then there should be discussions between
the United States and Australia to ensure that leaving the treaty
in place you would work out what need to be done to look after the
interests of the two countries. Now that has been the consistent
position of the United States and of Australia. When belatedly Mr
Peacock very, very belatedly started to understand the realities
of the situation, that it was nonsense to talk about the
negotiation of a new treaty. He then said now the role of
Australia should be to try and bring the United States and New
Zealand together and of course we keep the treaty. Now you have
got, you should have this role. Now it is quite clear that in
this area, as in so many others, the Australian people can't pay
any attention to the posturing of the Peac ocks and the
conservatives. What is in the interests of this country is what
we have been doing from the beginning, that is a situation has
been created outside our control, we had nothing to do with it, so
our primary responsibility is to look after the interests, the
security interests of Australia. We have done that. The
relationship between Australia and the United States remains as
strong as ever. It is very interesting to note, very interesting
to note in the light again of the political posturing of the
Peacocks and the conservatives in the House about the damage to
the United States/ Australian alliance. What did the Ambassador of
the United States say last night in Sydney. I guess he knows a
bit more about it than Mr Peacock and the conservatives. After
all he is very close, personally to the President of the United

Statesaa n d he is reported as saying in Sydney last night that the
relationship between Australia and the United States out of these
recent events is as strong, he said, perhaps stronger than it has
ever been. Now there are the realities. Because the United
States administration realises that what this Government is been
doing from the word go is to deal with the realities. Not to
politically posture, but to say now what needs to be done in a
situation created by others to protect the relationship. And we
have done that.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister could you at any stage or have you
expressed to Mr Lange concern that he has misrepresented
Australian Government policy first in a speech and later in a
magazine article in New Zealand..
PM: You refer to the Listener article?
PM: There has been correspondence between Mr Hayden and Mr Lange
on this where Mr Hayden pointed out the error of interpretation by
Mr Lange. Mr Lange graciously has accepted that he was wrong on
JOURNALIST: Did he a polog ise?
PM: We are not about the business of securing apologies. Two
civilised people, Mr Lange and Mr Hayden. Mr Hayden wrote to Mr
Lange and said you are wrong, proved that he was wrong. And Mr
Lange in a civilised fashion said I accept.
JOURNALIST: clarification he called it.
PM: Well I mean I don't know. I don't mind how you describe it.
The proposition that he put in the article was not accurate. Mr
Hayden in a very calm letter pointed that out. It was accepted by
Mr Lange. So there was no need for me today to say anything more
about that.
JOURNALIST: Mr Lange has recently paraded around Africa
displaying a collection of nuke-busters T-shirts. Have you any
comments on that display given..
PM: Well it may be good for the New Zealand clothing industry and
the New Zealand economy. And I think, as he would, it needs all
the help it can. If that opens up new markets well that's good.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke did you and Mr Lange discuss at any stage
whatever the Chinese position might be on nuclear armed ships.
PM: Yes, we did have a discussion about that.
JOURNALIST: Were you able to enlighten Mr Lange or vice versa.

PM: I wa's able to enlighten Mr Lange, I think.
JOURNALIST: Could you enlighten us.
PM: I think you already have been. You had the opportunity of
speaking to my dear friend Hu Yaobang and I think my dear friend
Hu Yaobang made it very clear he knows what the position is, I
know what the position is and I think Mr Lange now knows what the
position is.
JOURNALIST: Back on Queensland..
PM: I like this Africa, New Zealand..
JOURNALIST: You said that the point-scoring that's going on at
the moment between the Government and the Opposition over
Queensland. Do you think that might be the opportunity for some
statesmanship whereby your Government uses its special
relationship with the ACTU and the Opposition uses its special
relationship with the Queensland Premier to [ negotiations].
PM: Well, I've done that. I mean I haven't got a special
relationship with Sir Joh and I doubt, may I say, whether Mr
Peacock has. I mean you know I never disclose confidential
discussions, but I'm left with the impression out of discussions
with Sir Joh that he doesn't have Mr Peacock on a political
pedestal. Nevertheless there may be some residual relationship
there which Mr Peacock is able to either directly or vicariously
take advantage of. I've done what I can do as Prime Minister of
Australia. I've said the Federal Government wants to negotiate
with you. I've got agreement with the ACTU that they will sit
down and there is no doubt that if the three of us sat down we
could settle it. Now, if you're right then there may be a role
for Mr Peacock to pick up the. phone to Joh and-say well, look,
Hawke's done the right thi'ng, he's talked to the ACTU, they are
prepared to sit down and negotiate, now I ask you to do the same
thing. But you'd have to wonder on the performance of the last
couple of days whether he's prepared to do that. It's a great
JOURNALIST: that the Opposition has more influence with the
Bjelke-Petersen Government than yourself.
PM: I mean I can't really say about that. I mean I suppose you
would think they ought to but Sir Joh has been very very
derogatory in many of his comments about the Opposition and I just
don't know what the state of their relationship is. But prima
facie you'd think that they ought to have the opportunity of doing
something. ENDS

Transcript 6621