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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 9029


Photo of Keating, Paul

Keating, Paul

Period of Service: 20/12/1991 to 11/03/1996

More information about Keating, Paul on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 09/11/1993

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 9029

PM: Last night [ an McLachlan, the Liberal front bencher, was brazenly
defying the High Court and endorsing the general thrust of the
fanatical views put by Professor Blainey wh~ o said that the Chief
Justice had failed in his duties and should seriously consider making
way for another Chief Justice. In other words, here's the Party that has
always believed in the rule of law, and the sanctity of private property,
saying the High Court only works when it works for us, and when. it
doesn't work for us the High Court Judge, Chief Justice, should either
explain himself or resign his position.
Ian McLachlan then endorsed that general thrust of those views. Now,
I think, that it is imperative that Dr Hewson dissociate himself from Ian
McLachlan's endorsement of Professor Blainey's fanatical right wing
views about the High Court to dissociate himself from those remarks,
and Mr McLachlan's remarks that he endorses the start of a process of
reversal of the Native Title decision. And to not do so would leave Dr
Hewson accused of the same arrogant refusal to accept a decision of
the High Court, which even Mr Hugh Morgan describes as the
keystone of the Constitutional arch.
So, here is a High Court decision very much along the lines of similar
Supreme Courts in other countries. One that it is a sound legal
decision, and now where a front bencher of the Opposition says the
Chief Justice should resign.
Now, last week Alexander Downer was the only Liberal that came out
and said that Mr McLachlan was out of court, he was out of line and he
should be corrected and put back into line or stand down from the front
bench and that Dr Hewson should ensure that he does. Dr Hewson
has done no such thing, his weakness in relation to the High Court and
Mabo, that is, a Liberal Party leader considering and tolerating such an
attack upon the High Court for this decision simply means, I think, that

Dr Hewson -now has no strength in dealing with the High Court, he is
showing no leadership whatsoever in his Party, and that was again
endorsed this morning by his make up with Senator Bishop. Senator
Bishop has been campaigning for his job. A Week ago he was kissing
her on the cheek in a slilly make-up, and today, apparently in another
display of a total lack of leadership and weakness, he is saying it is ok,
Bronwyn, if you are quiet it will be all right with me. The fact is John
Hewson should try and stop Senator Bishop where she wants to start,
in the pre-selection for the seat of Mackellar, he is not doing that. He
is going to let her through and now let her slide onto the front bench
providing they all kiss and make up.
Well, I just say to you, Dr Hewson is a weak leader. I told you last
weekend that I think his days as leader are finished, and to tolerate the
brazen contempt by Mr McLachlan for the High Court in endorsing the
fanatical views of Professor Blainey just makes that abundantly clear.
J-How long do you give Dr Hewson in the job?
PM. Not long. I think now, any Liberal who would have seen his interview
with Laurie Oakes on the Sunday Program last weekend would simply
despair about the state of the Opposition leadership.
J: Prime Minister, didn't you earlier in the year also invite criticism of the
High Court for leaving a lot of the questions unanswered on Mabo?
PM: No, there is one thing about'the tidiness of the judgement, that is,
whether or not some of these questions about leases etc should have
been referred to, that is, leaving so much of it to the Parliament. It is
another thing to say that the whole decision is illegitimate and the
Hight Court and the Chief Justice should stand down. It is an absolute
outrage. They were always invoking Menzies, I mean, Menzies would
turn over in his grave on this sort of an attack on the High Court.
These are people that believe in the rule of law. The West Australian
Government is contemplating the most far reaching obliteration of
private property rights in the country's history. They want to. take
Native Title and extinguish it.
J. Prime Minister, do you think Mr Blainey is a racist?
PM; We know of his notorious positions on these things, you can put him in
the Hugh Morgan category. The problem here is McLachlan,
McLachlan is a front bencher in the Opposition. He is endorsing
Blainey's views that the Chief Justice should stand down, that * the
Justices should explain themselves or stand down. And the leader of
the Opposition is letting that position remain, and letting those remarks
stand without disciplining Mr McLachlan.

J: Does Professor Blainey have a point when he says that Aborigines
have too much land and that anyone who criticises that is being
labelled a racist?
PM:* Well, in 1788 they had all the land didn't they. What are they to get
now? Not that in the coastal periphery of the country, but only in the
main, in the hinterland and only where they can establish native title on
a customary basis. In the end, these people don't want to see land
conferred on people, they want to see land conferred by Parliament
they don't want to see it as an inherent right of indigenous people.
J: Prime Minister, when will we see your legislation on Mabo?
PM:-Probably, you'll see it when I introduce it in the Parliament not so far
from now.
SYou can't give us a date yet'?
PM: I think probably about the 16th or 17th.
J: Prime Minister, do you see a democratic right to be able to criticise the
High Court the Labor Party's position on the ad ban decision?
PM: It is not a democratic right to go and say that the principal and most
supreme court in the country should explain itself or resign over a
matter like this, not when the party who is endorsing it was saying that
the native title decision was correct. I mean, in a statement which Dr
Hewson published in June he said the Liberal Opposition supports,
the Coalition, supports the native title decision of the High Court. Now,
to have a front bencher say that the High Court, endorsing a view that
the Chief Justice should explain himself or resign is an outrage.
J: That was only a principle, it wasn't policy.
PM: Yes, that was only a principle, it wasn't policy that's right. We
discovered that with your very important probing on Sunday Laurie
( Oakes).
J: Mr Keating, you talk about a vested interested, in your statement, you
talk about vested interests are you talking about Mr McLachlan being
a pastoralist there?
PMVI No, but look, Mr McLachlan is a pastoralist and a substantial one and
he comes from that area of Australian life that believe that the
country's bounty is for them to enjoy, but nobody else. The fact is, the
Court has made a principled decision here and Professor Blainey's
views are an outrage, but the greater outrage is the endorsement of
them by Mr McLachlan and the failure of the Leader of the Opposition
to stand him up. What is politics coming to?

J: Mr Keating, the Greens seem to be suggesting now that there won't be
time to consider this legislation this year are you concerned that it
won't get through the Parliament this year?
PM: I would like to see it through the Parliament this year and the Greens
have got to know and have got to understand this well, that what
Richard Court wants to do is to extinguish native title. He wants to
wipe out the private propert rights of Aboriginal people, that is what's
on here. Richard Court wants to take the private property rights and to
use Mr McLachlan words " start the process of reversal of the native
fitle decision". I mean, they're the stakes here, so we are not worried
about some petty debate about time tables, we are worried about
matters here of great principle.
J So, will the Federal legislation override the West Australian
PM: Well, you wait to see that. Look, the Federal legislation will take
primacy in these matters.
J: And you are convinced that the West Australian legislation will be
PM: I am convinced that the Commonwealth Parliament's power to legislate
in respect of Aboriginal people is secure, sound.
J, Prime Minister, what is your response to yesterday's opposition
questioning in Estimates about the Lodge?
PM:-I thought it was appalling and I mean Dr Hewson sanctioning this sort
of behaviour could you imagine Menzies raking over John Curtin's
tenure or staff arrangements at the Lodge or John Curtin raking over
Joe Lyons family arrangements at the Lodge this is the sort of dirty
linen view that the Liberal party now specialise in, Where is the
Liberal party under this man? How low does Australian politics need to
sink? Can I say, I was also appalled at just how quickly the voyeurs of
the Press Gallery took this up in a London tabloid way with alacrity that
would even surprised the London tabloids, and ran it all on pages one
and two of the newspapers. I might also refer you to the correction
The Canberra Times hid on page two of its edition today after running
two front pages on Saturday and Sunday about this phoney story
about prints in the Cabinet Room. The Press Gallery ought to get on
with the big issues and wake up to itself.

Transcript 9029