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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 9120


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: 12/02/1994

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 9120

J. This morning's papers, the story on the new evidence about the East Timor
massacre, have you got a comment on that? It seems to be more savage than we
PM: Well this was a very murky period and I don't think any of us profess to know the
full details. There were still people missing, unaccounted for. But nor can we rely
upon the reports that we have. I am afraid Mr Pilger's credibility is always under a
cloud as his views about Cambodia last year revealed very starkly. At any rate, our
Ambassador has got a routine visit with the Indonesian Foreign Minister in the next
day or so, so we will be putting some questions to the Indonesian Government and
no doubt we will get a response.
J: The Chief Minister of the Northern Territory has described as blackmail your view
that should there be a challenge to the Mabo Act,-no money will be forthcoming for
the setting up of the administration in the Territory. What's your view?
PM: Well, the Commonwealth has made a very generous offer. I mean, we have these
niggly remarks sometimes by other people, but we are paying half the legal costs of
managing, half the managerial costs of this claims process, and hearing process, and
we are picking up 75 per cent of the compensation costs right back to 1975. Now,
you have got to say, well, what else would they require of us? You know, to pick
up 100 per cent of everything? I mean, it is after all these Governments who issued
the leases, not the Commonwealth. So, it is very generous on our part. At any
rate can I say that these issues will be worked out over time and we will be trying
to make the whole system work as effectively as we can.
J: But it is a big ask to ask State Governments to surrender their fight to challenge
Commonwealth legislation. So the land rights Act here was in th-e-Courts for years
from both sides sorti-n-git out to a workable piece of legislation.
PM: We can't ask anyone to surrender their rights to challenge anything we do in the
courts. And we are not asking them. But nor can they suggest that the
Commonwealth Parliament hasn't a ight to legislate of course we have.

J: So, that last line in your letter from last Friday, I think, is not a suggestion to the
States that they won't see any money if they're non-cooperative in challenging the
Act through the Courts will be seen as being non-cooperative?
PM: If they are not adopters of the scheme of arrangement in the Bill, they will be a
non-cooperating State and Territory and they will carry the costs themselves.
Now, that's what we are making clear to them. The Commonwealth Parliament's
legislated a State or a Territory has the right to go it alone, but then they will not
have the financial support we have just spoken of.
J: Will there be a consent provision in the social justice package attached to the
Native Title issue?
PM: What do you mean?
J: Veto. Certainly the Aboriginal groups are pushing for missed the veto..
( inaudible)... Native Title legislation.
PM: Native Title legislation has no veto arrangements, and there are two things which
the Aboriginal community sought, but which we were not able to give them. That's
the ownership of minerals and a veto right. What we have got is, I think, usefual,
workable, consultative negotiation processes and an arbitration process in the
Native Title Bill. It is a very good piece of legislation. And that's why, frankly, all
the States should support it, and that includes the Northern Territory and that
includes Western Australia.
J: But the Northern Land Council and others are hoping for a veto under the social
justice package, are you completely ruling that out?
PM: There will be no vetos. There are not going to be vetos.
J: Is there any danger that this afternoon's football game, which you have primarily
come up for, is a black against white game, not black against black and white?
PM: No, I don't think so. I think it is a good thing to celebrate the contribution of
Aboriginal sports people to this country. And in the great code of Australian rules
there has been a tremendous contribution by Aboriginal Australians. Now, nobody
says when they get the State of Origin side together to battle it out with NSW...
and in some way there is a sort of, what shall we call it, some sort of regional
Queensland thing... any more than I think it is appropriate to say that if the All
Stars come together as a team drawn from all over Australia to play Australian
rules against one of the great sporting clubs of this country, Collingwood, that it is
in any way other than what it seems. That is, basically, a celebration of the fact
that just like the members of the State of Origin play all over the rugby league code
in this country, so too will the All Stars play all over the code of Australian Rules.
So, you know, I think that stuff is basically narks.
J: So, who is going to win?
PM: I think everyone is going to win, I said this yesterday, I think everyone is going to
win. Because it is a good thing to be doing. It will be pretty hard to get a draw

out of all this, so someone will probably win the game. But everyone will win from
having had it.
J: Territory Labor has been in the political wilderness longer than the Federal
Opposition, what advice would you give your colleagues on
PM: To keep on doing what they are doing. I think they are about to come out of the
wilderness in a big way. I am very confident that we will see the defeat of this tired
administration here in the Northern Territory. Tired, without ideas, not up to the
great fuiture which I think the Territory has. And I think the team which Brian Ede
leads has every opportunity now of becoming the Government of the Northern
Territory at the next election.
J: You have probably heard that journalists in the top end are pretty fair game for the
pollies up here, any thoughts on Territory politics?
PM: On Territory politics?
J: The style.
PM: On the style. I think politics is much the same the country over. But just as after
years a Labor Government came to Canberra and renewed and reinvigorated
this country, rebased its wealth, I think the opportunity of the Northern Territory
now as it is close, one of the great gateways, the nearest gateway to Asia, growing
as it is in these great tourism and mining industries and agricultural industries it
requires a Government better than it has. And I think the Labor Party can provide
that Government.

Transcript 9120