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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 7639


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: 14/06/1989

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 7639

CENTRE, 14 JUNE 1989
JOURNALIST: ( inaudible)
PM: Well obviously the things I'll be saying now are
different to what they would have been at the beginning of
this month because earlier of overseas in ' 84 when I
visited Hong Kong I was there putting a message that I
believed that the developments in China at the time should
be welcomed by Hong Kong and that there was a shared
interest. There would be, I believe, a shared interest
between the Government of China and the people of Hong Kong
as to the purpose of Hong Kong in the post transition
period. I believe that the apprehensions that were
entrenched at that time were not well founded. one
obviously has to say now, after the tragic recent events,
that the people of Hong Kong are entitled to be
significantly apprehensive. Let me say this, that I believe
that in the short term there is not a great deal of room for
optimism about what is happening there. But I do express
the view that in the longer term the repression that is
being practised, the brutality which has been evident and
the attempts to set the Chinese population against the
Chinese population, against itself all these horrendous
things, I believe, will not be able in the longer term to
survive. I don't think that the aspirations of the Chinese
people for a freer society will be able in the longer term
to be repressed. So, putting that perspective together
briefly, I think in response to your particular question,
Red, that I would say that the United Kingdom Government has
to understand that there will be an immediate apprehension
and concern with which they have to deal. I think they have
and I recognise they have certain obligations in this area.
As far as Australia is concerned, we will also adopt an
accommodating policy as we possibly can. In respect of
those people within Australia who are apprehensive about
their future, in case of return to China, we'll be as
accommodating as we possibly can there. In respect of
people from Hong Kong who wish to come here of course we've
had, as you know, a developed Business migration Program.
We welcome these sorts of people within the global limit
that we set for our immigration policy. So that's roughly
the sorts of things that I'll be saying.

JOURNALIST: ( inaudible)
PM: It would be silly, Ian, at this stage to suggest that
one would be confident about mobilising unanimity of view on
this because the evidence at the moment is that that would
be an almost impossible task. But, having said that, there
are already some runs on the board. We have just received
yesterday the message as I think it's been made public from
India that India has come aboard in support of the
Australian position. There are indications of other
significant countries being interested. Against that there
is also the evidence that others say that what we are
proposing is not realistic. So there is a hard job ahead of
us. What we intend to do on this visit, and Gareth Evans is
away now, is to explain the Australian position. You see,
what had been put to us was that it would be possible to
actually sign the convention but have a reservation, express
a reservation that in fact we would be opposed to any
mining. It was put to us as a matter of international legal
interpretation that in fact that ratification would not be
acceptable with that sort of reservation. So that being our
position, that we are against mining in the Antarctic, we
were not able to pursue that task. So what we are about
therefore is to argue that there needs to be a comprehensive
environmental protection convention within such a
framework the establishment of a wilderness park in the
Antarctic. Now there are many people who are opposed to
that, who seem to think that you can have some sort of
halfway house where you can express a concern and an
intention to protect the environment there, but somehow play
around with the concept of mining. We believe that the
evidence about the fragility of the Antarctic is such that
that halfway house is not possible. Some have said that if
we by our action prevent the convention coming into force,
that will mean that the moratorium on mining which has
operated to this point will break down and there'll be no
sort of protective apparatus there at all. We don't accept
that proposition so we will be at all levels arguing the
case for this approach and I can't say no that I'm hopeful
that we will get a unanimous position. But I can say that
from the evidence just in the last few days that we have a
very signficant country that's come aboard and I believe
that that will help Australia in pursuing the task that we
will now pursue vigorously.
JOURNALIST: ( inaudible)
PM4: This is an international question. You're talking I
presume about an election in Australia. I mean, there are
elections all over the world this year but in the most
important country I wouldn't think there'd be one this year.
I've said Let me make this point about the election.
Please recall the recent events. There was one person, only
one person who started talking about an election, an early
election in Australia. That was a bloke called Howard who
did it, as I pointed out, for two reasons. One, that he

wanted quite maliciously and on an unfounded basis of fact
to suggest that this was something that the tax cuts
that we were giving were something that were being brought
out of the hat for the purpose of an early election and
ignoring the fact that we'd promised those tax cuts
promised that 12 months before. So it was an attempt to
divert attention from the intrinsic merits and long standing
nature of the promise to deliver them. And secondly he did
it to try and divert attention from what was a gathering
momentum of the dissatisfaction of his leadership. It
didn't work. There was no prospect of an early election as
far as I was concerned. It was something that was conjured
up in the mind of Mr Howard. Well, he got what he deserved
and the proposition will have no more substance than his
leadership. As to the second and fundamentally important
question that you raised. I express to my people that the
odds being offered by Ladbroke's before the event seemed to
me to be absurd. If I'd been actually over there at the
time I would have indulged in my well-known punting
endeavours and had a good at the odds that were being
offered. I think the outcome was appropriate and it gives
substance to the first part of the visit because a week ago
I sent a cable to Allan Border and said " good luck, you'll
win the first and I'll come to see you one up at Lords". So
the prediction has worked out. I expect that they will go
two up after Lords and whether it will be a whitewash or not
I'm not sure. Whether we can win the five is not really a
reflection of the capacity of the Australian cricketers
relative to the English but whether the remarkable run of
recently good weather now will prevail and whether we get
five Tests. But whatever number of Tests there are, we will
win the majority.
JOURNALIST: ( inaudible)
PM: I'm not in a position to comment on the report. I
don't intend to comment on it. It's a matter obviously of
sensitivies involved. I don't intend to comment on the
report. As to the second part of your question as to what
impact it will have on Sino-Australian relations, let me
make these points. Firstly, there is probably no country
which has had closer, more detailed relations with China
been developed over the last few years than with Australia
and therefore it was for us, I think, the sadder, the more
tragic, the events that occurred there in recent weeks. Now
that has not precluded us, and myself in particular, from
making very clear, in the most precise terms, our rejection
and repudiation of what has happened. So I think that the
authorities in China are totally aware of our views and our
attitude. I wrote to Premier Li Peng earlier this week and
really I had these purposes in mind in writing that letter.
Firstly, of course, was directly to register the revulsion
that I and the Government and the people of Australia
experienced in recent events. Secondly, to say that it was
our belief that a continuation of that approach would be
deleterious not only for the nation and people of China, but

for its relations with the region and the rest of the world.
And thirdly, to express the hope that there would be a
change, there would be a reversion to the policies of
openness and of the development of the rights of individuals
an abandonment of the infringement, the drastic infringement
of human rights that characterised recent times and that in
those circumstances Australia stood ready to do what it
could to help. Now I go to those details and I also, of
course, expressed the hope in the letter that there would be
extended to everyone, including those in position of
leadership which had expressed opposing views to those that
had been followed, that there would be extended to those
people leniency and humanitarian
( tape break)
PM: continuing saga over there, this question of
participation or not in the frigate program. The
perception, I think, of this country would be an indirect
one on the economic relationship. The first would be that
if, against the indications we've previously had of the
relevance of the frigate program to New Zealand and that
there would be co-operation, and if that were to not now
eventuate, then clearly there would be a perception I think
that New Zealand wasn't terribly serious about fully
effective co-operation in the defence field. The conclusion
which would be hard to avoid and which I know from my
conversation with Mr Lange, he would regard as being an
appropriate conclusion. Now, if that were to happen, and I
hope all this is hypothetical and it doesn't happen. I hope
that they will participate in the program. But if it were
to happen then in a not measurable way, I can't measure to
what extent, but it must have some adverse affect in the
area of economic co-operation. I can't measure that, no-one
can. But if two countries which have previously had the
closest sorts of co-operation in the defence field, then
went to a situation where the break which was associated
with the ANZUS Treaty position adopted by New Zealand, was
then exacerbated by a refusal to participate in this
program, then the relationship would be diminished. There
is no question about that. It would be diminished. We
would not, as an Australian Government, seek to say, well
now, to the Australian economic community, New Zealand must
be punished for this. We don't operate like that. That
would be silly. But I think it just would reflect a
lowering of the warmth and the total character of the
relationship and it seems to me in those circumstances that
must inevitably have some adverse economic effect.
JOURNALIST: ( inaudible)
PM: Well the fact that I didn't mention specifically New
Caledonia is not in any sense to mean that I won't be
talking about this issue when I'm in Paris. I obviously
will. I wasn't able to list every single issue that I was
going to be talking about. But I will be talking about it

because it is an important issue for Australia and we are on
the record and I will take the opportunity directly again in
talking to President Mitterand and Prime Minister Rocard to
say to them what we have said publicly. And that is that we
welcome a change of direction which is involved in the
Matignon Accord and that most particularly, may I say, in
direct relevance to your question, I have welcomed the
recognition by the French authorities of the underlying, one
of the fundamental underlying problems. That is that it was
an indictment of previous French Administrations over many
years of different persuasions that we come to the recent
position in New Caledonia with an indigenous population
virtually untrained in areas of public administration,
professional and technical areas, and education and so on.
And the Rocard Government has recognised that fundamental
truth and they have undertaken now an accelerated program of
training of the indigenous population so that by the time
1998 comes you will have many many more people trained for
all these relevant areas, with a capacity to overtake the
sorts of responsibilities that can be associated with
whatever the decision is that is taken at that time. It is
in that area that I have already indicated to the French
authoritie * s that Australia is prepared, not only prepared
but very willing, to co-operate with them in training
programs. We're not seeking to intrude ourselves but
because of our proximity it may be the case, as we've said
to them, that they would like to see some of those training
programs to which they are committed, undertaken in this
country. So, it is obviously consistent with those
positions that I have adopted on behalf of the Government
and people of Australia, that we would see investment by
Australian firms in New Caledonia as an appropriate course
of action. we believe that the French Government deserves
the full support not only of Australia, but of the South
Pacific community in pursuing not merely the Accords which
have been signed but,. as I say, importantly the underlying
considerations behind them. Because what is necessary is
that you have a Kanak population which does have the
training in all relevant areas so that they will be able to
undertake whatever degree of responsibility it is the
decision that they take at that time. So, yes, we are
supportive in this.
JOURNALIST: ( inaudible)
PM: Is that a convoluted way of saying do I regard myself
as having a special relationship with Margaret?
JOURNALIST: ( inaudible)
PM: It's not Margaret that's here, it's me. So you really
should cable your question to Margaret asking her whether
she thinks she has a special relationship with me. But as
being one of the two involved I'll attempt to analyse it and
come to a conclusion. I think she would regard herself as
having a special relationship with me in the sense that I

haven't been backward, nor has she, in meetings of the
Commonwealth in putting our views with strength, conviction,
clarity and, may I say, continuity. So I believe that
Margaret respects that sort of position I think she
finds herself in conflict on a particular issue. I
certainly found that while we are apart on method I don't
question in any sense the commitment that she has to trying
to bring an end to the abhorrence of apartheid in South
Africa. So we are able to operate from that common basis of
a shared abhorrence about the principles and practices of
apartheid and within that framework we have been able to
have fairly detailed, lengthy and relevant discussions. we
also share positions on matters of importance. For
instance, I think Margaret and I were amongst the earliest
who firmly and without equivocation recognised the substance
and significance of what Mikhail Gorbachev was attempting in
the Soviet Union. We have a shared view that it is in the
interests of the people of the Soviet Union, and
particularly as well in the interests of the world
community, that what Gorbachev is trying to do within the
Soviet Union deserves, warrants the positive support and
involvement of the West. We are at one on that and have
been from an early point of time. I also say that as far as
Margaret Thatcher's visit to this country last year was
concerned she regarded it as very important. It was not a
mere formality and she was kind enough after her visit to
express in very fullsome terms her a ppreciation of the
visit, how it was arranged, and then she put it amongst the
most important visits she had undertaken. Following that I
would have to say that her arrangements for the visit that
I'm making to the United Kingdom have been almost
unbelievable in the intensity with which they have been
prepared and the detail and the commitment that she has made
to ensuring that the visit is both comprehensive, relevant
and successful
JOURNALIST: ( inaudible)
PM: The position in regard to those two areas is reasonably
straightforward. Take the area of forests. We have a
position and I'll come to uranium secondly in regard to
forests we have the position that this is an area in which
there is a sharing of responsibility between States and the
Federal Government. That was witnessed over the six years
that we've been in office, some rather significant conflicts
between the Federal Government and the States and
particularly in regard to Tasmania. our position as the
Federal Government is that we recognise the importance of
the forestry industry. AS indeed may I say in fairness to
the conservationists, the environmentalists, they are not
anti-forestry. They're not saying there should be no
forestry industry in this country. The secret of success in
my judgement in handling this issue is first of all to
recognise that there are certain areas of forests in this
country which should be protected at all costs, vide the
Daintree region in north Queensland and certain elements of

the Lemonthyme and Southern Forests in Tasmania. They
should be categorised as World Heritage areas and completely
protected. In regard to the other areas what we've got to
try and reach is a position where there is an understanding
and agreement of the need to protect those parts of the
National Estate which in addition to the World Heritage
areas contain areas which should not be subject to any
logging at all and to identify other areas where logging can
be undertaken but in a way which we ensure a renewal of the
resources which are being used for those purposes. Now, by
definition, set out those requirements and they are
logical and I think should be pretty broadly accepted. Of
course the problem becomes in defining those areas and
getting agreement to them and to those processes. What
we're trying to do in this country, both through direct
negotiations with the States, the industry, the unions and
9 the environmental movement and now with the establishment of
the Resources Assessment Commission to have a range of
processes whereby we can get agreement on these general
principles. There will continue obviously to be
differences. As you can see for instance it's happening in
the southern forests in NSW at the moment. But that's the
sort of procedure we need to get. The total protection of
certain areas which should have no possibility of access by
the forestry industry, particularly those that should be put
on the World Heritage list, certain areas in the National
Estate which should be protected. But that doesn't mean
that all areas of the National Estate are not subject to
forestry operations and to get the processes underway to get
agreement on those issues. So that's the approach we are
adopting and I am hopeful that we will get further and
further towards agreement on these issues. In regard to
uranium the position there is relatively straightforward I
believe. We are a partner to the non-profileration treaty
and under the non-profileration treaty there is an
obligation treaty for us to provide uranium to those
* nations party to that treaty who undertake to use that
uranium for peaceful purposes. That is a treaty obligation
which we discharge. There is no country which has more
stringent safeguard requirements than we do. That simply
means that, as has been put to us by the International
Atomic Energy Agency, that it would be a tragedy if
Australia were not to provide the uranium. It would mean
that it would be supplied by others who have a less
stringent safeguards approach. So that's what we're doing
and we regard that as appropriate and importantly the only
course which is consistent with our membership and may I say
our vigorous membership of the non-proliferation treaty.
JOURNALIST: ( inaudible)
PM: I must say I haven't engaged in an intellectual on
this issue to say whether I regard the French presence
as better and if so to what degree better than Indonesia or
anyone else. I haven't engaged in that intellectual
exercise. I must say regard it as a fascinating one

which I might undertake sometime on the way home rather than
on the way over there. I simply want to say on that I'll be
talking with Prime Minister Rocard about developments in the
Pacific region and no doubt that will iclude developments in
Fiji. JOURNALIST: ( inaudible)
PM: I really am not going to say to you in advance of
talking to Mr Bush what I'll be saying to him. I don't
think that would either be polite or very productive. In
regard to the second question I think that one has to say
and it would be churlish if you didn't say it that Japan
has improved its position and attitude both in terms of
itself providing access for a range of products compared to
what had been the previous position. And also in terms of
the cooperation that we are receiving from Japan in a number
of the issues that we are raising in the multilateral
trading agenda. Certainly as far as Australian industry is
concerned there has been an opening up, there has been an
improvement and as I say it would be churlish not to
recognise that. We have been having discussions with the
Japanese about these issues generally and most particularly
in the context of the initiatives that I have developed
towards trying to establish a greater degree of cooperation
in the Asia-Pacific region on economic matters including the
role and stance that countries will adopt in the
multilateral trading environment. Certainly we've received
a fairly encouraging response from Japan. So in regard to
the first part of your question, I don't want to say to you
what I'll be saying to the President, but in general we
welcome the sorts of changes in direction,. Perhaps they're
not as rapid as many would like. But I repeat, it would be
churlish not to recognise that there has been an improvement
and I think a reasonably significant improvement in the
Japanese attitude on these issues.
JOURNALIST: ( inaudible)
PM: Let me just quickly reaffirm the basis of your question
The evidence in Vietnam is overwhelming. The tragedy
there is, as I put it before, in a sea, in an ocean, of
growth, they have been an island of economic stagnation. To
their credit they are increasingly recognising that fact and
therefore I believe, the rest of the world to encourage
change and development there, to give the people of Vietnam
the opportunities of experiencing the benefit of economic
growth. Because that will be both to their benefit, the
people of Vietnam, and will obviously in my judgement add to
the stability of the region. I don't think there's any way
in which you can dissociate the political developments now
which see the creation of a basis of optimism for the
settlement of the Kampuchean tragedy. You ' can't in any
sense dissociate that from the facts to which I've been
referring. In other words there has been a decision made
within Vietnam, I would think within the Soviet Union and to

an extent in China that the decision in the Soviet Union's
an important one but decision made in the Soviet Union
and Vietnam that they can't any longer continue the sort of
economic processes that they have in that country and that
the settlement in IndoChina, the political settlement in
IndoChina is associated with that acceptance and that
realisation. So if we are concerned with a region both of
political stability and economic growth which is widely
shared then there is an inevitable conclusion that follows
from it in my judgement. That is that we should do all that
we can to assist the processes of change within Vietnam and
of growth. I think the one question mark that one has to
have now when talking about this region is what impact all
the changes in China have. While obviously the Soviets and
China have not finalised a position as to all the details of
a settlement in Kampuchea, nevertheless there was a broad
basis of understanding upon which Prince Hun Sen and
Sihanouk have conducted their very productive talks in
Jakarta and which are to be resumed next month in Paris. I
don't know whether the events in China are going to create
any unforeseen difficulties there. Because as you know, one
of the critical points that still remains, what was going to
be the post-withdrawal end of September, withdrawal of
the Vietnamese troops, what were going to be the processes
involving an acceptable role or non-role for the Khmer
Rouge? Now it seemed to be the case that in the discussions
that had taken place that China had accepted some sort of
process which would be acceptable, not only to them but to
the rest of the parties involved and therefore wanting to
have optimism that it was going to work out. I simply say
you have to raise the question mark as to whether now as a
result of recent events in China there is going to be any
change in that position. I fervently hope not.

Transcript 7639