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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 8079


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: 13/08/1990

Release Type: Press Conference

Transcript ID: 8079

JOURNALIST: Good morning sir, you've had a chance to go
through and meet some of the crew on all of the ships,
how do you perceive the feeling?
Well I was very impressed in the sense that there was
not, you know, a wild sort of jingoism. There was a very
sober understanding on their part that have got an
important mission, there was an understanding there was
considerable potential risk involved in what they were
about, but overall they were eager to undertake the
mission. I think that they would overwhelmingly welcome
a situation that by the time they got there, there was no
need for their presence and that was a possibility. But
I had the feeling that they are indeed very worthy heirs
of that position to which I referred when addressing
them. JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, isn't it yet another case of
sending troops to someone else's war?
PM: How do you mean someone else's war?
JOURNALIST: Well, the Gulf isn't in our sphere of
influence is it?
PM: Well, people were using exactly that sort of
language of appeasement in the 1930s and the world paid a
terrible price for that sort of erroneous analysis.
JOURNALIST: But, Prime Minister, some of the, this is
the 75th anniversary of the Anzac action at Gallipoli and
some of the veterans from that campaign came back this
year and said we should never be involved in someone
else's war overseas.
PM: Well, that's an interesting observation.
JOURNALIST: You must be disappointed at the number of
protesters here today?
PM: There's a very few of them. You think that I should
have expected more you mean?
JOURNALIST: That they were here at all.

0 2
PM: That question would give your listeners the
impression that there was a mass of protesters and you
know there wasn't.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, do you think you've got
widespread support in the community for this action?
PM: Yes.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, today the El Telegraph Arab
newspaper did a survey of the Arab community and found
that over 80 percent of Arabs in this country support
Saddam Hussain, that's not widespread support is it?
PM: We've only got an Arab community have we? I mean,
what a ridiculous question. I mean, we've got 17 million
people in this country and you've referred to a
publication which covers at the most 300,000 people
because 80 percent of 300,000 are against it, therefore
the overwhelming majority of Australians are against it.
I mean, grab hold of yourself, boyo.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, will the decision to, say,
escalate any action by Australian forces by the two
frigates that are going there, who'll be taking that, the
decision. Will that be taken in Cabinet, by yourself or
how will that be done?
PM: No, the Cabinet, of course, will be considering this
whole matter and I've made it quite clear that there
would be no escalation beyond the role, primary role, of
enforcing the embargo. If there was any suggestion of an
escalation of that role, that would require a Cabinet
decision. JOURNALIST: will we be sending any further troops to
the Middle East?
PM: We are not sending any troops to the Middle East.
The standard of your questions is remarkable, if I may
say so.
JOURNALIST: I'm just wondering, in itself, this
invasion, I mean, it's obvious why we're going over, but
how does it fit with other things that have been
mentioned like, let's say, the invasion of, or the
Israel, the Six Day War that Israel launched and, you
know, nothing was taken against Israel. No action was
taken by the international community at the time
PM: Do you understand what happened in, what year was
the Six Day War. I'll just test you out.
PM: ' 67 and what were the circumstances of that?

JOURNALIST: Well, I'm just asking you
PM: Well, I'm telling you that there is absolutely no
analogy as was known at the time, that was a pre-emptive
strike that was taken in those circumstances against a
threat that was accumulating for the obliteration of
Israel. And I say that in regard to 1967 and I don't say
that in terms of an exoneration of every Israeli action
that's been taken in the Middle East over the period of
its existence, but you don't pick a very good example
when you refer to 1967.
JOURNALIST: Well pick another analogy, Mr Hawke, the
occupation of East Timor.
PM: I'm sure you can
JOURNALIST: Surely East Timor didn't make a threat to
Indonesia? PM: Well, mate, I'm not here to have an argument with
You. I mean, if you were really interested in asking
objective questions I'd deal with you.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, obviously although the Cabinet's
going to make the decision, you'll have an extremely
important role in the Cabinet. How does it make you feel
personally knowing that the lives of 600 Australians are
going to be, not totally in your control, but obviously
you're going to have a very great influence over how,
what happens to them whilst they're over there?
PM: Well, as I said when announcing this decision, it
was not one that was taken lightly. I put hours of
thought into it, but in the end it was a straightforward
decision. You, the world can't afford a situation where
a country can simply invade and annex a neighbour and
allow that to go unnoticed. I mean, I, it was very
interesting for me, as I said the other day, I've just
recently been reading in great detail the events of the
1930s and when you read what happened in that period, the
crimes of the appeasers were, in a sense, as great as the
crimes of Hitler and the Nazis. We wouldn't have had the
Second World War if there hadn't been appeasers, but..
would appease once or twice, thrice, and the world paid a
very heavy price. So you can't stand idly by and allow
those things to happen.

Transcript 8079