PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 6693


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: 13/08/1985

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 6693

Ladies and gentlemen. I very much appreciate this
opportunity to join you tonight.
This celebration by BHP of its centenary is a very
special occasion.
The last 100 years have seen BHIP prosper.
It is now the largest Australian company, and a
very large company by world standards, rating equal
to some of the companies in the top 50 US
BHP's magnificent centenary publication " Australians in
Company" has vividly documented BlIP's rise to the great
enterprise it is today.
There was the move into iron and steel, which
started it along the path to being a leading force
in Australia's secondary industry.
There was the development of minerals exploration,
mining and export.
There was the development of energy resources,
particularly in Bass Strait and on the North West
Shelf, and
There was the move offshore, most particularly by
the purchase of Utah, to become a substantial
multinational corporation.
The development of BHP through these phases mirrored the
development of Australia itself:

The development of an indigenous iron and steel
industry, and the associated metal handling
industries was an important part of the industrial
development of Australia, and is still an important
contributor to the vitality of Australian
manufacturing industry.
The development of Australia's resources,
particularly minerals, has played a crucial part in
generating exports, in stimulating economic growth,
and in fostering closer ties to other countries
through international trade.
Two features of BHP's performance stand out.
BHP always has always been known for its technical
proficiency in resource-related industries.
BHP has in recent time made a most successful
effort to restructure itself, to orient itself more
closely towards the international marketplace,
within the new international disciplines to
strengthen efficiency and competitiveness, and to
take advantage of opportunities provided throughout
the world.
Australia needs competitive, outward looking companies,
companies that know the recipe of long-term success.
Only in this way will the Australian economy grow and
afford all Australian a better standard of living. Only
in this way can real inroads be made into the
unemployment queues and secure employment be provided at
the high living standards which Australians, rightly,
We have seen these processes begin their work in the
Australian economy in the last two years. As the
economy has been turned around, as Australian industry
has adjusted and conditions of international
competitiveness have been reestablished, the employment
situation in this country has been transformed.
Unemployment has now been reduced to 8.2 per cent, the
lowest level in nearly three years and the total number
of new jobs created since the Summit has reached over
410,000 well on the way to our three year target of
500,000 new jobs.
If these gains are to be maintained, sound
macro-economic policies will have to be sustained. It
is particularly important that, within the framework of
the Accord, labour cost pressures continue to be
controlled. Certainly the Government for its part will
be acting responsibly to ensure that a debilitating

inflationary spiral does not emerge out of the cost
pressures that have become apparent since the
devaluation. This will be an important factor in
sustaining Australian industry competitiveness.
Restoring industry competitiveness also requires a sound
Government industry policy.
The Government's approach to the problems of the steel
industry immediately after we came to office was a clear
example of what was needed.
The steel industry in early 1983 was experiencing major
difficulties to which quotas on imports were an
ineffective and inappropriate response.
Now, following nearly two years of the steel plan and
nearly two years since quotas were replaced with
assistance more relevant to the market, the steel
division is again profitable with a more certain future.
The Government is determined that assistance
arrangements not become a substitute for improved
efficiency; rather assistance should be short-term and
the minimum necessary to encourage industry to
reorganise and become more competitive.
A recent most noteable example of BHP's involvement in
an exercise of great national significance has been the
company's key role in the development with China of the
Australian iron and steel initiative.
The development of the Chinese economy holds great
promise for commercial co-operation between Australia
and China. In no industrial sector is there greater
complementarity and hence opportunity for cooperation
between our two countries than in iron
and steel.
The Government, through a program of frequent high-level
contacts with Chinese leaders and the establishment of
the Iron and Steel initiative, has provided official
momentum for the pursuit of opportunities by commercial
entities in both countries.
BHP has been at the forefront in developing the
commercial aspects of co-operation, most rapidly in
relation to manganese and iron ore exports, and
semi-processed steel from Whyalla and the east
coast centres. Together we look forward to the
conclusion of further and larger contracts, to the
benefit of all parties.

In the final analysis, it is up to individual companies
to take advantage of the opportunities afforded them.
BHP has positioned itself well to meet the emerging
challenges. It has expanded its activities by diversifying
widely in Australia and by purchasing international
assets. Utah is the most spectacular.
It has reorganised its own management and operating
structure announced under the banner " Organising
for Profit and Growth" to reflect its new pattern
of activities.
The diversity of BHP's trade, often involving both raw
materials and processed products, requires it to be
aware of any sensitivities in the world market. The new
corporate plan facilitates the flow of communication
within the management structure, essential if BHP is to
take full advantage of opportunities offered to its
different corporate activities.
I believe that BHP has every reason to be confident of
the future: A future based. on outward-looking, competitive
attitudes to international trade.
A future which recognises the advantages of a
properly structured management.
A future where productivity levels and new
activities see competitiveness in world markets
BHiP and the strength of the Australian economy, are
closed intertwined. This is particularly apparent in
BHP's role in the development of Australia' s national
mineral and energy resources.
The framework established for the development of these
resources allows this to be done in a manner beneficial
to all Australians.
BHP plays an important part in that process.
A process always evolving as was most recently
attested through the announcement of the go-ahead
for the export stage of the North West Shelf.

BHP's further spectacular move to multinational status
involves it in a new order of responsibility. It will
inevitably bring it into closer contact with the
aspirations and policies of a range of Governments.
BHP's move in this direction this internationalising
of BHP mirrors closely the internationalising of the
Australian economy during the term of this Government.
Our decisions to float the dollar, to permit foreign
bank entry and to pursue a committed course of
deregulation of foreign exchange markets have
transformed the Australian economic scene.
These have been paralleled by our steady progress to
open Australian production of goods gradually to greater
international competition, notably in steel, motor
vehicles, textiles, clothing and footwear and ( the
Senate willing) dairy products.
In a quite unprecedented way Australia is now open to
the challenges and opportunities of the international
market place.
BHP is obviously a key player in this new scene.
Certainly, in the last 100 years it has a proven track
record in Australia. It has worked hard for its name
" Australia's BHP". It has done so on the basis of the
contribution to the company and to this country of many
thousands of Australians.
Sir James Balderstone, in his forward to
" Australians in Company", said " Today and for the
years immediately ahead the company sees its
mission as achieving profitable growth servicing
diverse markets as a competitive international
producer and supplier of resource-related products
and services, while growing in other areas by
making use of the expertise drawn from its existing
BHP's success in this mission is important to all of us.
Certainly I know everyone here joins me in
congratulating BHP on its centenary and joins me in
wishing it every success in the next 100 years.
It is my particular pleasure now formally to ask all
guests to join me in toasting the past success and
future prosperity of BHP.

Transcript 6693