PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 7640


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: Press Conference

Transcript ID: 7640

14 JUNE 1989
JOURNALIST: A message for the Chinese students in
Australia Mr Hawke, do you have one?
PM: Two. First of course to reaffirm the sense of tragedy
that we share with them for what has happened in their
country and second to say to them quite directly that we
will be very accommodating in our approach to any requests
that are made where there is clearly a legitimate concern on
the part of any Chinese student that a return to China in
these circumstances would pose dangers to them. That is the
obvious proper approach for us to adopt and it's the one we
would adopt.
JOURNALIST: Are you considering a relief package for
mortgagees? PM: No, it's not a question of considering a package of
relief. All I've said in the past and all I'm prepared to
say now is that we are continually looking at the operation
and impact of economic policies. We will continue to do
that. The position of course is that, as I've said, we've
got to slow down the level of activity in the economy.
We've got a too strong economy. We have to have that as a
continuation of the thrust of policy to slow down the level
of activity so that we get a more sustainable level of
imports. We can't change that basic thrust. Within that
situation we'll continue to examine the impact of what those
policies are producing.
JOURNALIST: Any short-term relief for people suffering from
? 2
PM: I've got nothing to add to the answer I've given.
JOURNALIST: ( Inaudible)
PM: I've got nothing to add to the answer I've given.
JOURNALIST: Is the Financial Review story wrong?
PM: It wouldn't be the first time, would it. They've got a
good track record of being wrong.

JOURNALIST: What implications do you think the turmoil in
China will have on your regional trade initiatives?
PM: I don't think it will have directly any impact on the
initiatives. we've now sounded out the countries in the
region, that's the ASEAN countries Japan, Korea, New
Zealand, the United States and Canada. There is generally a
fairly positive reaction. I think it has its own momentum
now and will not be affected one way or the other by those
events. JOURNALIST: But you're not so optimistic about a settlement
for Cambodia in the light of what you
PM: I simply was saying, I didn't want to leave the
impression that I was saying that those settlement processes
had been derailed, and I've got no reason to believe they
have been derailed. I was simply making the point that one
of the issues that's clearly still to be settled between all
the parties involved, directly and indirectly, is in the
post-withdrawal phase. That's when the Vietnamese troops
have withdrawn by the end of September, what is the sort of
administrative authority, what are the roles that are
available both for the PRK government and for the factions
that have been opposed to the PRK? Now within that overall
question the central issue has been the Khmer Rouge.
There's a legitimate concern widespread that if Sihanouk and
his other colleagues were to come back in and that the Khmer
Rouge were to be part of that process, because of the
superior supply of weaponry and arms that they have and
their past track record, there could be a concern that they
could upset the balance that would be acceptable to everyone
else. Now within that sort of framework there had been an
optimistic assessment that China would not in a
post-withdrawal situation, they or the Vietnamese, that they
would not supply arms to the Khmer Rouge. That been
part of the whole pattern of planning and thinking, that's
if you like to put it, optimism for the future. I simply
raise the question, no more than that, whether with the
recent events in China would there be the same degree of
optimism about the attitude of China in that situation.
That's all I've said. There is no reason to say that I
think what's happened there is going to derail these
important processes. It just is a legitimate question mark
you've got to raise.
JOURNALIST: You've said it's an important trip Prime
minister, which are the most important issues and do you
think they'll prevail over interest rates as far as the
average common sense of working Australians go?
PM: I don't think they're alternatives. I think that in
the six years I've been in office that the Australian people
have come to accept that the visits that I make overseas
have very specific and relevant purposes as far as
Australia's welfare is concerned. There's never really in

PM ( cont): the six years been any question about the
relevance or the appropriateness or the usefulness of the
visits I undertake. I think you will have heard from what I
said here today that in each of the countries I'll be
visiting there are very specific Australian interests, both
in terms of bilateral issues, in terms of regional
considerations and in terms of global issues like the world
trading environment, environmental issues and so on. So I
therefore, in that circumstance, find it difficult to rate,
in terms of priorities, the importance of the various
matters that I'll be discussing with the French and in the
United Kingdom, in the United States, Germany and Hungary.
There are a range of the important issues. Now how do they
rate against issues of compelling importance to people in
Australia at the moment, like high interest rates? There's
not a comparison to be made. I mean, for the person who's
Sbeen hit by a rise in his or her mortgage repayments, I
guess for that person there's hardly anything, if anything,
as important as that. I understand it and I hope that they
will understand from my point of view that I feel deeply
about the pressure that has been imposed upon people by
these high interest rates, particularly for those who can
least afford them. What needs to be understood is what I've
been saying, two things. Firstly, that if we didn't have
these tight policies at the moment then the outcome would be
worse and it would be worse for these very people, the ones
who relatively are least able to look after themselves.
Because if we didn't have tight policies now then the
Australian dollar would collapse and interest rates would
then go through the roof and they'd be very much worse off
and the economy as a whole would be. So I repeat, I have a
very deep feeling of concern that those people who are not
terribly well off are bearing a pretty tough burden at the
moment. The second thing that's one category of what I
say the second, of course, is to remind them that as from
the beginning of next month and the matter now of only a
Scouple of weeks away, those significant tax cuts will be
coming through and those tax cuts, in the average case, will
more than compensate for the increase in interest rates,
interest repayments, that are involved in these higher
rates. I just ask people to understand that and then if we
together can see this fairly tight period through, then
we'll be able to see a situation where there'll be a
reduction in the interest rate situation. But we've got to
see it through now.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, was this this afternoon
that your Government had spoken to the Chinese Government
seeking safe passage for two dissidents in the Embassy
there, does that surprise you?

PM: As Prime Minister, if anything has happened rather than
a report of what's happened, anything that has happened of
which I'm aware, by definition, doesn't surprise me. Now
I'm not putting this particular report into any of those
categories. Where I know about a thing it, by definition,
doesn't surprise me.
JOURNALIST: Have you had any
PM: But I mean, I'm not trying to be funny or elliptical in
this. I hope you'll appreciate that where you're talking
about a delicate situation now where there may be people
seeking assistance, it doesn't help anyone. It doesn't help
anyone or relations between the countries to speculate or
talk about it. So I'm not trying to do anything other than
to be responsible in this situation.
JOURNALIST: President Bush hadn't been able to get through
to the Chinese leadership. Have you had any response?
PM: Well I haven't had any response to my letter yet. The
letter was sent for delivery to our Embassy earlier this
week, and, well at the end of last week, and I have not any
information yet as to whether the Premier has actually got
it. I hope and assume he has by now, but there's certainly
no indication at this stage of any response.
JOURNALIST: If these reports this afternoon are correct,
presumably you're concerned about potential trade
implications with China?
PM: That's not at the forefront of my mind. I mean you've
got to in these sort of situations if they were to arise
you've got to look at the rights and prospects of
individuals concerned. You can't ignore that. You can't
put trading considerations up there as a barrier to a
consideration of individual human rights. You've got to
take all those considerations into account. We'll do that.

Transcript 7640