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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 7896


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: 12/02/1990

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 7896

DE STOOP: Bob Hawke visiting Newcastle today and
we're fortunate enough to be able to catch him before he
jumps in his chopper or his plane bring him up here.
We're talking to him from Sydney. Good morning to you Mr
Hawke. Would you please bring some sunshine. Our SES
workers need a break.
PM: Yes, it's been terrible hasn't it. Not just in
Newcastle but all round this region. Awful. I reckon
you're starting to get webbed feet eh?
DE STOOP: What we're finding out now is the poor devils
who thought that perhaps they'd got away through the
earthquake without too much damage are discovering that
there are all sorts of problems now that the rain is
hitting. PM: Yes, it is devastating. I just hope it clears up.
DE STOOP: Could you believe it Mr Hawke when you first
came up here and saw the devastation?
PM: No, it was frightening. The thing that struck me
about it too Mickey was how capricious it was. You'd see
a building devastated then apparently next to it
relatively unscathed. There was no pattern about it at
all. But overall the impression was certainly one of
devastation. I felt so, well just so terribly sad for
the people who had suffered. The second impression of
course was about the spirit of Newcastle. Quite
magnificent the way people rallied around and worked and
tried to help those who'd been, who'd either lost their
loved ones or suffered damage. It was magnificent.
DE STOOP: Does this mean that you're going to make a big
announcement of an injection of federal funds today?
PM: Well Mickey, what we've done is to really meet with
the Premier. As you know I met with him very quickly
afterwards and said well don't let's muck around and keep
people in suspense about this. We have agreed that we
will share all expenditures on the agreed measures
equally and that we'll show greater than usual
flexibility in applying some of the conditions, in

particular to concessional loans for both direct and
indirect loss of business to assist the private sector.
So we've agreed on that principle and we'll go about the
business now of seeing what has to be done.
DE STOOP: I think a lot of people now are feeling that
Newcastle has been abandoned. There is that feeling that
no-one gives a damn now. They did at first but they
don't now.
PM: There's no basis as far as my Government is
concerned there's absolutely no basis for that.
DE STOOP: So we will be seeing money coming through at a
PM: The actual payment of assistance is done by the NSW
Government. They have local offices where, as we often
don't have them there, and we will then be actually
sharing the payments with them. But the actual outlets
will be through the NSW Government offices.
DE STOOP: Ok, well onto the big issue today and I'd be
delighted if you'd break it on my program of course. But
I think I've got buckleys. When are we going to the
polls? PM: Yes you're right Mickey, you've got buckleys.
DE STOOP: No hints?
PM: No hints mate.
DE STOOP: When will Parliament sit next?
PM: When it's called Mickey.
DE STOOP: Any likelihood of an announcement today
though, quite seriously?
PM: No. No likelihood of an announcement today Mickey,
no. DE STOOP: No? Next couple of days?
PM: It'll be sometime in the future. Good try, good try
Mickey. DE STOOP: What about by the end of this week?
PM: I don't know. I'll just have to consider the
options. But obviously, in one sense, the continued
speculation is not something I particularly appreciate.
So I wouldn't want to be waiting for a thousand years to
announce it.
DE STOOP: I think everybody wants to be put out of their
misery now, particularly journalists.

PM: I thought you were going to say particularly Andrew.
DE STOOP: Put out of his misery?
PM: No, no, I didn't say that.
DE STOOP: Actually he hasn't done too well in the polls
today. How do you feel about John Howard's position
right now? How would you be feeling if you were John
Howard? PM: Well it's always the same with the Liberal Party. I
mean they've got such a depth of talent. They have this
fiddler's elbow in and out, in and out exercise with
Howard and Peacock. When Howard's in he's declared
unelectable, he's the most unpopular bloke in the
business and Andrew Peacock looks attractive to them.
But then they put the Peacock in and the reverse happens.
* He goes down and Mr Howard by contrast Mr Peacock looks
attractive. By comparison to one another they seem
attractive apparently.
DE STOOP: On the other side you've got Hawke and
Keating. How thrilled were you that John Button again
prompted the idea that Paul Keating will take over if
Labor wins another term?
PM: That was a nothing. As you know, it was a nothing.
He had some aberration, didn't know what he was talking
about. I'll be leading the Party in the election and
through the next period.
DE STOOP: Is that sort of thing embarrasing for you
though, or annoying at least?
PM: No. It was just a legless creature, that particular
episode. A whole lot of people tried to stitch some legs
on it. But it being without life and without substance,
the legs refused to be attached. It didn't move.
DE STOOP: What do you say to someone like John Button,
or John Kerin for that matter when they come out with
statements like this that obviously must be of some sort
of concern to you? What happens behind the closed doors?
You can't put them on detention or anything can you?
PM: No. I've said a few words to John and I don't think
you'll be finding any more problems from him.
DE STOOP: He wasn't stood in the corner for half an
hour? PM: No. There was no point in doing that. He got the
message quite loud and clear.

DE STOOP: Onto a couple of personal things now. How's
your health? A lot of people are saying at the moment
you' re tired.
PM: Eh?
DE STOOP: A lot of people have got the impression at the
moment that you're feeling tired.
PM: No. Where'd you get that from? No-one's saying
that at all.
DE STOOP: Janine Haines said it on the program the other
day. PM: Janine Haines. You're joking. The opposite is
true. Everyone is saying that they've never seen me
looking better. That's how I feel. I feel great.
DE STOOP: So you're in tip-top form at the moment?
PM: Absolutely.
DE STOOP: Fit as a fiddle?
PM: Fit as a fiddle.
DE STOOP: How are you feeling after watching 60 minutes
last night?
PM: Proud of my wife.
DE STOOP: Yes, she came over well didn't she. But were
either of you expecting it to be taken, the angle used
where we saw headlines yesterday morning ' Hazel Hawke I
wanted a divorce' and that sort of thing being plastered
over everything.
PM: Yes. It was pretty crappy sort of media handling I
thought. Because as Hazel made it quite clear, what
she'd done at a rather difficult period was to find out
what the options were. But she never initiated anything.
Quite properly in those circumstances had a look at her
options. But still that's I suppose a way you sell
newspapers isn't it?
DE STOOP: Do you ask to see I was just curious when I
was watching it last night, I wondered if you get to vet
anything? PM: No, of course not. I would never dream of asking to
vet anything she was doing. I mean any more than I
mean we're equals. She doesn't seek to vet what I'm
doing. Why would I ever seek to vet what she's doing?
DE STOOP: It's just that it is the Prime Minister
y'know. It just occurred to me

PM: Hey listen. When we get up and talk about equality
we mean it. It's not something we say and don't mean. I
would never think of vetting what she was going to do.
DE STOOP: Do you think most people care anyway? I mean
most of us go through a tough-patch somewhere in
relationships. Do you think the majority of people
really care that there might have been a hiccough for a
period of time?
PM: I wouldn't think they would now. I think they would
be interested in what the state of our relationship is.
And it's manifest how good that is. But I think history
in this respect is not of great interest to most of them.
DE STOOP: Ok, well onto international things now.
Nelson Mandela has been released. Everything seems to be
happening very quickly in the world at the moment doesn't
it. But this is the latest in great moves, in my view
anyway. But what does it mean to us and does it mean we
will be lifting sanctions with South Africa?
PM: It means the stage has been set where we can
consider what the next steps are in that regard. We'll
be having a meeting with Commonwealth Foreign Ministers
on South Africa, a committe that was established back in
1987. They'll be meeting in May. I think that will be a
time when there'll be the first formal review. I think
the right way of putting it is that the stage, as I've
said before, that by the actions of President de Klerk
the stage has been set for negotiations between the
government of South Africa and the representatives of the
black population. And that is something that we ought to
welcome. I have welcomed it. The next thing is the
actual negotiations. If the government of South Africa
is serious now about negotiating towards the creation of
a democratic multi-racial non-apartheid South Africa then
of course if they are prepared to have those negotiations
then we ought to be looking at the lifting of sanctions.
But as someone said when I was in New Zealand, on this
issue, ' you don't get gold medals in the heats'. What
has happened is that they have certainly done some
important and necessary preliminary work. We'd be
churlish, as I've said, if we didn't recognise that.
DE STOOP: But a little cynical about the timing?
PM: No, I'm not cynical. I think that President de
Klerk is operating under considerable difficulties with a
lot of the white population in South Africa. I think
he's given evidence that he is serious about trying to
move towards change. The important thing is, is he going
to do it? Is he going to complete the process? I mean
the worst thing in the world would be to make these
decisions but then keep the actual practice of apartheid
in place. That's not acceptable. But, as I say, he does
seem to be serious about moving to meaningful

DE STOOP: Without trying to trivialise it, it would be a
great period for cricket wouldn't it?
PM: Well, I think it would be great not only for cricket
but great for all forms of contact. I don't like to see
a situation where a country of that size and importance
is isolated. As I've said always, we see no virtue in
sanctions as such. They've always been seen simply as a
measure to bring South Africa to the negotiating table.
And they have obviously worked. No-one will be happier
than me when the time comes that we can with confidence
lift them so that we can meet them on the sporting field,
the cultural field and in every other medium of contact.
DE STOOP: I thought about you when you were over in
Auckland because last time, well a couple of times ago
that we were speaking I asked you who you would really
enjoy and who you do enjoy sitting down to at a dinner
table, considering that quite frequently you're stuck
with people that you probably don't particularly want to
spend a whole evening with. You said one of the most
fascinating people for you is the Queen.
PM: Well she is, to me, an important person. Given the
unique nature of the Commonwealth, when you think of it,
here is an organisation which covers so much of the
world's population, from the second largest nation in
India down to tiny specks of atolls in the Pacific, from
rich nations to the poorest nations, every colour, creed
you can imagine. An important part of keeping that
organisation together has quite frankly been the
commitment, involvement and personality of the Queen.
She is remarkably well-informed about her Commonwealth.
She can speak intelligently about every nation within it.
She's given a sense of unification and continuum to it
which I think very few people could've done. She also
has a good sense of humour.
DE STOOP: Yes you said that. So you had a chance to
sort of chat while you were over in Auckland?
PM: Yes. I had, well I was sitting with her in the
stadium for a while but then we, I had a private audience
with her later on on the Saturday afternoon. We had a
very delightful yarn as usual.
DE STOOP: Terrific. One quick thing. You're coming up
to Newcastle. Do you think you've been forgiven for the
frigates yet?
PM: I don't think it's a question of being forgiven. I
don't think Newcastle people when they came to think
about it would forgive me as Prime Minister, any more
than the rest of Australia would, if I made a decision on
a wrong basis. And there was no doubt that on the basis
of the economics of it that that was the correct
decision. But it was a decision which also involved an

A 7
enormous increase in jobs and investment for Newcastle.
And I'm pleased to see the investment plans that there
are in a whole range of industries for the Hunter region,
not just Newcastle but for the region. It has a very
very bright future. That pleases me because I have a
very soft spot for the people of Newcastle and that
region. DE STOOP: Have a great day up here. Thanks for your
time on the program. And you won't be tempted to sample
the wine?
PM: No, it's ten years Mickey, ten years.
DE STOOP: Congratulations. Have a good day. Bye
PM: Bye.

Transcript 7896