PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2775


Photo of Whitlam, Gough

Whitlam, Gough

Period of Service: 05/12/1972 to 11/11/1975

More information about Whitlam, Gough on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/01/1973

Release Type: Press Conference

Transcript ID: 2775

PRIME MINISTER: Ladies and gentlemen: there were several
appointments which the Cabinet made this morning. Three of them
required Executive Council action which took place at half past one
today. Mr George Warwick Smith who was previously Secretary of the
old Department of the Interior has been appointed as a Special Trade
Representative to represent Austra ' lian interests in the forthcoming
multi-lateral trade negotiations under GATT. Dr Cairns is issuing
a separate statement about Mr George Warwick Smith's position.
He will have the personal status of Ambassador.
Mr Kenneth Jones has been appointed Secretary of the Department
of Education. He has been First Assistant Secretary of the Department
of Education and Science since it was established in 1964.
Mr Maurice Timbs has been appointed Secretary of the new
Department of Services and Property. I-don't think that you
gentlemen should refer to it so often as the Department of Property.
Many people have said that it was amazing the first new department
created by a Socialist Government in Australia was the Department of
Property. It's the Department of Services and Property. Mr Timbs
is at present Executive Commissioner of the Atomic Energy Commission.
He has held a number of Public Service positions since 1936. He is
also Director of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust and the
Australian Opera Company and holds several other voluntary outside
offices. An Interim Hospitals and Health Services Commission is being
appointed. The Chairman will be Dr Sidney Sachs, who is at present
the Director of Health Services Research and Planning in the N. S. W.
Department of Health and the N. S. W. Hospitals Commission.
There were several administrative proposals and decisions for
legislation. Firstly, in the educational field pre-school
teachers. It was decided to take emergency action to encourage
well-qualified students to enter pre-school teacher education from
the beginning of the present academic year. Special pre-school
teacher education scholarships for both men and women will be
available to all students in recognised pre-school or child care
teacher training courses. Both new entrants to courses in 1973
and existing students who have made satisfactory progress will be
eligible for the awards. The awards will carry the maximum benefits
applicable to Commonwealth Advanced Education scholarships but there
will be no means test. Under these arrangements the new awards
will be comparable to the awards the Commonwealth grants to teachers
training for the Commonwealth-Teaching Service and will also be more
closely related to the benefits available to students training for
employment in State Government primary and secondary schools.
The benefits for 1973 will be payment of compulsory tuition and
service fees plus a living allowance of $ 800 for students living at

home and $ 1,300 for students obliged to live away from home.
Next, isolated children. The Cabinet decided that from the
beginning of the 1973 school year new measures be introduced to
assist in the education of children who, because of the geographic
isolation of their homes, do not have reasonable daily access to a
Government school providing courses at the appropriate level.
We shall provide for such children, at both primary and secondary
level, boarding allowances of $ 350 per year free of means test and
up to an additional $ 350 subject to a means test on family income.
Assistance up to similar levels will also be available for approved
educational expenditure to eligible students who are studying at
home by correspondence. For cases of particular hardship, where
children are living away from home and are receiving boarding
allowances application may be made for assistance with uniforms
and text book~ s. The maximum amount available for any student will be
the maximvm amount at Present available fcr students with Aboriginal
secondary scholarships, i. e. $ 1,004.
The Government proposes to review these measures in light of
a survey which the Department of Education will commence this year
in consultation with the States. The aim of the Department's study
will be to assess more thoroughly the effectiveness of -the measures
which I have mentioned in assisting parents of isolated children to
overcome the educational disadvantages experienced by their children.
The Government sees one of the basic issues in dealing with the
educational disadvantages of these children as being the provision of
better school facilities and better hostel facilities. The Schools
Commission, when established, will be asked to investigate where
these needs lie.
Thirdly, dental therapists. My election policy speech included
a commitment to introduce a five-year program to provide free dental
services to all Australian school children. This commitment was based
on the use of dental therapists. Cabinet decided today to authorise
Dr Everingham, the Minister for Health, to make arrangements with
New Zealand with a view to training perhaps 100 Australian men and
women as dental therapists this year. There are just not the
facilities available in Australia. We hope there are in New Zealand
where such use of dental therapists has been carried on for more
than 50 years.
Then there-were several matters in the welfare field.
Repatriation. We approved amendments to the Act to achieve the following
reforms: There will be increases of $ 3.10 a week in the special
rate pension; $ 2.00 in the general rate; $ 2.25 in the intermediate
rate and $ 1.50 in the War Widow's pension. Equivalent increases will
be made for seamen who served in the war. The increases will apply
from the first full pension period after the election day, the 2nd of
December. The increase in the special rate pension will mean
that it will equal the Commonwealth minimum wage which is the undertaking
the party made. The increase in * the general rate is a start
towards fulfilling our election commitment to raise this rate to
per cent of the minimum wage.
We approved an increase of $ 1.50 for Service pensions, i. e.
burnt-out pensions; again from the first full period after the 2nd of

We also agreed to the continued recognition of a child
of a Service pensioner, for service pension purposes, irrespective
of the child's age for as long as the child continues to undertake
full-time education.
We authorised amendment of the Act to provide the Repatriation
Funeral Benefit to be increased, from $ 50 to S100.
We approved the introduction of legislation enabling war pensions
to be continued until completion of full-time education to dependent
children who are'not receiving maintenance or living allowances or
salary from Commonwealth sources that equals or exceeds the allowances
payable under a Commonwealth Scholarship.
We approved preparation of amendments to enable the legal personal
representatives of a deceased ex-serviceman whose claim has been
processed to Repatriation Commission level but no further, to proceed
with an appeal to an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal or an Assessment
Appeal Tribunal to enable payment of arrears of service pensions to
the estate of an applicant for service pension who dies before the
granting of the pension, and to recognise de facto wives and certain
children who are at present not recognised under Repatriation
legislation but, of course, are recognised under Social Services
legislation. We decided to appoint immediately an Interim Departmental
Committee to investigate and report upon Commonwealth office space
in major cities. It will consist of representatives of the Urban
and Regional Development Department which will chair it, and the
Prime minister's Department, Treasury, Services and Property, Works,
Public Service Board, Transport, and Environment and Conservation.
The Committee will bring up-to-date a report which was made to the
previous Government in 1968, and one of its fields of investigation
will be the question of the new Commonwealth building proposed
hitherto for Spring Street, Melbourne. This project will be
reconsidered. Now those decisions were made this morning. I may take a little
longer to give you the ones this afternoon. They are in the housing
field. We decided to confer with the States to see what additional
funds they can spend in providing Housing Commission houses up to
the end of next June. The money will be made available on condition
that the houses are let, not sold, and that they are made available
to needy families. The general situation has been that in 1969
to 1971 there were 18,000 Housing Commission houses built each year.
Last financial year it dropped to 15,000; this year it is already
at the rate of only 12,000. In particular, the situation is that in
New South Wales there is 42 per cent of the outstanding applications in
the whole of Australia but the State only receives 35 per cent of the
funds. In South Australia 20 per cent of the outstanding applications,
the State only receives 12 per cent of the funds.
We have decided to amend the War Service Homes Act, not only
as we announced at the beginning of last month to cover members of
the forces, including National servicemen who complete their full
period, we will now alter the Act to make War Service Homes advances
available for members of the nursing services, members of the women's
services whether single or married without dependents and members
of the welfare organisations attached to the Defence services. We

will increase the War Service Homes Act maximum advance to $ 12,000
and we will remove the limitation that you can get a minimum deposit
of 5 per cent only if the homes are worth $ 4,000 or less. The
situation is, of course, that at the present time the maximum War
Service Homes advance represents only 57 per cent of the average cost
of house and land in Australia.
There is a couple of other announcements I can make.
Following letters which I sent early last month to the Premiers
of New South Wales and Victoria, arrangements have been made for a
meeting to take place between Commonwealth and State Ministers at
Albury on Thursday of next week. The purpose of the meeting is to
discuss a program of joint co-operative development of the Albury-
Wodonga area. Mr Uren and I will attend on behalf of the
Commonwealth. The meeting will take place on the New South Wales
side of'the border in the Albury Civic Hall. Wodonga also offered
its services so we are having lunch there. We are asking the
Shire President and the Mayor of Albury.
To celebrate the 5th anniversary of Nauru's independence,
Senator Willesee and his wife will represent me and my wife.
They will arrive in Nauru on 30th January and remain for three days.
The Government attaches considerable importance to developing further
constructive, friendly and helpful relationships with the countries
of the South Pacific, and Senator Willesee's visit to this anniversary
of independence is intended to demonstrate this interest early in the
life of the new Government. This will obviously be one of the
subjects that Mr Kirk and I will be discussing next week in
New Zealand, whose successive Governments have shown very valuable
initiatives in political, economic and social co-operation between
all the States and territories of the South Pacific.
Now are there any questions?
Q. Mr Prime Minister: In a very short period of time you and
several of your Ministers have managed to ruffle more than a few
feathers in official Washington. What is the message
PRIME MINISTER: You look very cool
Q. I don't come from official Washington, Sir. But what is the
message that you are trying to transmit to Washington concerning the
future of Australia-U. S. relationships and is the strain over Vietnam
very deep, and is it irreparable?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, the Australian Government was elected with a
mandate to oppose the continuation of the war in Vietnam and to oppose
Australia's participation in it. This is the only point of
disagreement between the United States Administration and the
Australian Government. In all other fields there are many
opportunities great opportunities for co-operation between
the United States and Australia. Our part of the world particularly
will benefit from such fruitful, constructive peaceful co-operation.
Q. Is there if I could just follow up my colleague in
Washington, a man of the State Depar tment, in answer to a request
sent this along today. He said that there is a sense in Washington

that Whitlam is not a Nixon type: there are far-reaching changes
in Australian policy caused by Whitlam's election which officials
here acknowledge will require some long and cosy chats between the
two sides in the future. While Whitlam was here before coming to
power he was not received at the White House though he asked for
an appointment. So, my question after all that is, do you and the
President see eye to eye on major issues? Are you of similar
personalities or are your personalities so different that you will
not be able to get along in the future?
PRIM4E MINISTER: I don't believe there is any reason why any
Australian Prime Minister can't get along with any United States
President. I see no reason why the present Prime Minister can't
get on with the present President. I have been foremost among
Australian political leaders in publicly praising President Nixon's
initiatives to bring about a detente with the People's Republic
of China and with the Soviet Union, and I hope that he is able to
fulfil before his second inauguration his promise to end the war
between America and North Vietnam.
Q. Mr Prime Minister: Now, as far as Vietnam is concerned,
maybe you have already answered a lot of the questions I am
interested in the solution in Vietnam now that peace may be
attained again. What is the position of your Government? Do you
think it is in the interests of Australia to have Vietnam reunited
under North Vietnamese auspices or, in other words, under a
communist government, and what do you think might be the
consequences for, as you would call it, this area?
PRIME MINISTER: It's not for outsiders to determine what sort of
government the people of Vietnam should have. The division between
North and South Vietnam is an artificial one. The present parallel
was provisionally determined 18 years ago after the end of the
Korean War and the defeat of the French. It was only meant to
be a temporary border. We should not expect that the'division
should continue as long as the division of Germany or Korea.
There was an earlier division in 1945 at a parallel 1 degree south
of the present one. But we believe that outsiders should allow
the people of Vietnam who have a long history of patriotism
against outside intervention, whether for good or bad purposes,
we believe they should be allowed to determine their political
futur~ e, and outsiders shouldn't say whether the regime in Hanoi
or the regime in Saigon should rule the whole country.
The interest of the Australian Government is that, as soon as
possible, there should be an end to hostilities in that countryan
end to the supplies from so many outside countries to the
warring factions in that country and that Australia should stand
ready with other countries to help rehabilitate that countrythe
whole of that country.
Q. Do you think the conflict will be ended in Vietnam if the
Americans stop the war?
PRIME MINISTER: I believe..-. I hope that not only will there be
an end of military activities and supplies by the United States
but an end of military supplies by the People's Republic of China
and the Soviet Union. I believe that the cessation of such supplies
will make the country more rapidly tranquil, give some hope for its

Q. Mr Prime Minister, following that light is very
bright... PRIME MINISTER: Well, I have it in my eyes all the time.
Q. I know... Dr Cairns in the last week has been making
statements suggesting that Australia is going to recognise
North Vietnam.
PRIME MINISTER: No, he hasn't.
Q. But, he has. I'm sorry. You mean to say all the press
reports quoting Dr Cairns have been wrong?
PRIME MINISTER: He has not said that. He has said that the
recognition of North Vietnam is inevitable. He has expressly
said that he wouldn't say wouldn't guess when that would be.
Q. If the recognition of North Vietnam is, to quote him, a
matter of fact...
PRIME MINISTER: Inevitable well, isn't it?
0. How does this then reconcile with your own statement on the
future of a single Vietnam rather than a divided one which was,
from my interpretation, what you were just expounding?
PRIME MINISTERt Now, it's again... I am not asserting that there
should be a single Vietnam. I am asserting that the type of government
that the people of Vietnam should have is a matter which they
should decide. I'll reassert that the country has been artificially
divided in 1945 by British and Chaing-Kai-Shek occupation respectively
and then later after 1954, north of that, under the present regime.
But I'm not asserting that there should be one country. I would
think that reasonable, but it's not for me to say that there should
be. Looking at history, I would think this is likely.
Q. But Dr Cairns statement does indicate two countries rather
than one. How does this reconcile in view of the Australian
attitude towards what ought to be happening in Vietnam?
PRIME MINISTER: Now the Australian attitude is that what ought to be
happening in Vietnam should be determined by the people of Vietnam
without outside intervention or encouragement. My guess would be
that sooner or later there would be one government for the whole
country. I can't speculate how soon that will take place. I
would hope that it won't take as long as it has taken in the case of
Germany and Korea.
0. Could we suggest then that perhaps Dr Cairns has been a little
bit premature in his statements of recognition of North Vietnam being
PRIME MINISTER: If we are-to help in the rehabilitation of this
country there will have to be representation in North Vietnam
as well as in South Vietnam. I've not used the term recognition.
The division of this country was imposed from outside. It is an
artificial one. But as long as it persists, then outsiders to play
an effective part in rehabilitation, will have to be represented
in both halves.

Q. And what then can we interpret as Australia's role in the
rehabilitation of North Vietnam?
PRIME MINISTER: To co-operate with any other country which is
prepared to help in rehabilitation.
Q. And if no other country is prepared?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, of course there are other countries prepared
to rehabilitate. Japan has said so, the United States has said so.
0. What is Australia's role in the rehabilitation of North Vietnam?
PRIME MINISTER: Through international arrangements. As you know,
Japan already has people there to see how she can help to rehabilitate
North Vietnam.
Q. Could I ask you about Lake Pedder. Mr Reece seems to indicate
that the book is closed on Lake Pedder. Dr Cass seems to think
that there should be a Federal Government inquiry. What is the
Federal Government's position on Lake Pedder?.
PRIME MINISTER: Wait till the Government considers it. It didn't
consider it today.
Q. Supplementary to the question on North Vietnam. Do you
consider Dr Cairns' statements regarding North Vietnam in any way
contravened your statement at your last press conference that you,
in future, would be the only person in the Government to make
statements on foreign policy?
PRIME MINISTER: No, you read what he said. He said in effect,
that recognition I think the word was he used. I would have thought
the more appropriate one was representation in North Vietnam
is inevitable. Well, of course it is. If we have faith, as I
certainly do that hostilities will come to an end, then there will
have to be representation in North Vietnam as well as South Vietnam
to help in the rehabilitation of the country. It's on that basis
that Australian representation continues at such expense and in such
number in Saigon. And it's for that reason that the civilian aid for
South Vietnam continues unabated as far as the Government is concerned.
Q. I'm sorry, Sir. I was in fact seeking a clarification of your
statement at your last press conference that in future you would
be the only member of the Government to make statements on foreign
policy. PRIME MINISTER: That's true.
Q. Do you not feel that Dr Cairns statement on North Vietnam...
Q. What do you define as future statements on foreign policy
then if that isn't one foreign policy?
PRIME MINISTER: PIRI MtEhMIiNnITkE R: y ou gentlemen ought to be reasonable.

You're saying, I take it, that if there's a debate on foreign
policy or on any subject in the Parliament the only person
the only Minister who can speak on it will be the Minister
within whose ministerial responsibility that subject falls.
Might I make that very reasonable parallel.
Q PRIME MINISTER: Just because you live in Australia doesn't
mean you don't represent a great international paper.
Q. Thank you very much, Sir. The New South Wales Law Reform
Commission has pointed out that quite a lot of the residual powers
in the British Parliament with respect to Australia affect the
Q. Would Senator Murphy in London be representing or have a
mandate of any kind for the State Solicitors-General or Attorneys-
General as well as for the Commonwealth on this question on
residual powers as they affect the States? And, Sir, secondly,
on the judicial committee of the Privy Council: do the States have
the power to prevent or impede, do you think, your intention to
make the judicial committee of the Privy Council synonomous
roughly with the High Court of Australia?
PRIME MINISTER: Senator Murphy is representing the Government of*
Australia. He's not representing, he's not been asked to represent,
he's not sought to represent the State Governments of Australia.
You have mentioned two matters where he is to have talks with
British Ministers. One is to end the archaic position where the
British Parliament can still make laws covering this national
Parliament of Australia but also, of course, the State Parliaments
in Australia. There is one quite notorious case in the latter:-
coastal ships trading between one port in a State and another port
in that State are covered by British laws, and it may come as a
surprise to you but it did arise in a court not so long ago where one
of these 60-milers, the Colliers which trade between Newcastle and
Port Jackson foundered on the way and several people lost their
lives, and it was conceded that the New South Wales Workers'
Compensation Act didn't cover them. The legislation which covered
them was the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 and that meant that
the only compensation the families could get would be to divide the
number of victims into a sum calculated on the tonnage of the ship,
and it's still not possible for any State Government in Australia
to pass a law concerning matters of maritime commerce between two
ports in the one State. The Commonwealth can do it between ports in
different States but within the one State the British Parliament
alone can do it. Now, again, you ask about appeals to the Privy
Council. Most members of the British Commonwealth have abolished
appeals to the Privy Council.
It's a basis of democracy that judges should be appointed
by the Government. That they should sit and citizens in a country
should be able to appeal to courts in that country. Now the
objectionable feature of the Privy Council is that the members
of the judicial committee are appointed by the British Government.
It sits in Britain and its judgments take the form of advice to
The Queen of the United Kingdom. She happens also to be Queen of

Australia, but she doesn't get their decision in the form of advice
to her as Queen of Australia, but in the form of advice to
The Queen of the United Kingdom. Now, the Party's policy has been
and was in my policy speech that we should aim to have the
Privy Council, when it hears appeals from Australian courts,
constituted by Australian judges sitting in Australia, and that's
one of the things that Senator Murphy will be discussing. It is
not possible for the State Parliaments to abolish appeals to the
Privy Council. That would need the approval of the Queen on the
advice of the British Government. I notice there's some speculation
that this has something to do about the monarchy. Now the only
issue here is the despatch and acceptance of credentials of
ambassadors. The attitude that the Government takes is this:
Australia is a monarchy The monarch is usually resident overseas.
In those circumstances the Governor-General should be a viceroy.
He should be able to discharge the whole of the functions of the
monarch when the monarch is not within the jurisdiction, and we
believe it is anomalous that if an ambassador of a foreign country
is credentialled to the Australian Government, his credentials
have to be approved by The Queen in England. And we regard it as
objectionable if an Australian ambassador is being credentialled to
another country The Queen issues his Commission, even when she is
not resident in Australia, although of course, I sign it at her
command. Q. Do the States have any power though to prevent you from ha ving
the judicial committee of the Privy Council made synonomous with
the High Court?
PRIME MINISTER: I don't think they have any power to do it. They
may make representations to the British Government. I hope that in
these circumstances the British Government would agree with the
Australian Government. Ladies and gentlemen, the constitutional
situation is that the Australian States are still British colonies.
That's why the Governors apparently still fly the Union Jack.
Q. Mr Whitlam, can I come back to Alan Barnes question?
We have had a number of reports from Washington which indicate that
President Nixon has been somewhat confused, that three senior
Ministers of your Government can speak as they have about the
bombing of North Vietnam, yet not be speaking for the Government.
Can I ask you if you have had any communication with either the
White House or the State Department to make it clear that, as YOU
told us last week, you don't endorse everything they've said. And
on Dr Cairns' pronouncements since then you've told us that you
think the choice of the word " recognition" to North Vietnam was rather
unfortunate: have you communicated with Washington at all about
this to make it clear that your Government is talking simply about
representation in terms of rehabilitation?
PRIME MINISTER: There have been no communications at all on this
subject between Washington and Canberra. I don't believe that you
should believe every report you see. There were some people that
were urging me to make some statement about a report of evidence
given before the appropriate U. S. Senate committee which was
inquiring into the nomination of a new Deputy Secretary of Defence.
It was represented here that the nominee had refused to be drawn
on the question whether America might use nuclear weapons against
Hanoi. The actual reports show that that was a very garbled report
indeed. No inquiry was made from here. I was quite satisfied the

itiatter would be cleared up and I believe Washington would have
=; cted with the same understanding and decorum. I have deliberately
refrained myself from using the term " recognition" as regards
North Vietnam and South Vietnam because it is a matter of dispute
as to the juridical status of the regimes in Hanoi and Saigon.
7 don't want to express an opinion on them, but I am prepared to
u. se the word " representation" because this is something that does
happen. For instance, Indonesia and India have representation in
Hanoi. Britain has a Consul in Hanoi.
Q. Are you satisfied that the White House and the State Department
understand the position of your Government as opposed to the position
which has been taken by people like Mr Cameron, Dr Cairns and
Mr Uren?
PRIME MINISTER: Well there's been nothing more that any of those
colleagues have said since the last press conference.
Q. Well, there has been Dr Cairns...
PRIME MINISTER: Yes, but I've already dealt with that.
Frankly, gentlemen, you're scrambling if you want to see what
Dr Cairns said in a radio interview as a pronouncement on foreign
policy. He said that recognition of North Vietnam was inevitable
sooner or later, and of course it is.
Q. Let me say, Sir, that the most important matter in Europe is
what happens about the Australian relations with France and
Western Europe, and relations with America, do they matter that
much anyhow?
PRIME MINISTER: Yes, Australia wants to be on good terms with all
countries and not least the United States and France.
Q. Any news about the nuclear tests?
PRIME MINISTER: No, the only significant difference of opinion
between Australia and France is the possible continuation of French
nuclear testing in our hemisphere.
Q. Mr Prime Minister, I have prepared four questions how
many am I permitted to ask?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, let's see how the first two go.
Q. The first question concerns Australia's relations to the
German Democratic Republic and is divided into two parts:
What was the response of the Government in East Berlin to the
recognition; what sort of representation is contemplated ini
East Berlin respectively in Canberra, and when was the first
Australian diplomatic mission to leave for East Berlin?
PRIME MINISTER: Our Ambassador to East Germany the German
Democratic Republic will be resident in Another country. This
form of representation will be acceptable to the German Democratic
Republic. I cannot say when there will be G. D. R. representation
in Australia. I can find.., if you want to ask me I can give
you a more precise answer afterwards. I don't think it will be

long delayed. There have been, as you know, some officials in
Sydney for some time.
Q. Well, I now come to part of question number 1. Does the
Australian Government contemplate to ask East Germany for war
compensations as other western countries which have recognised the
Democratic German Republic recently have?
PRIME MINISTER: It's never been considered. I don't think we've
sought reparation from West Germany either, but thanks for the
suggestion, I'll consider it.
Q. The second question concerns the relations between Australia
and the Federal Republic of Germany. Divided again into two parts
PRIME MINISTER: No, wait a minute, one part..
Q. One part. Well that would be the more difficult part. Have
you, Mr Prime Minister, considered to seek the support of
Chancellor Willie Brandt for your fight against the French nuclear
PRIME MINISTER: I think there's another overseas Jack, you
represent an overseas...
Q. Yes, two quick and unrelated questions,
PRIME MINISTER: In answer to the first part of the third question
Might I say that the present matter in which Australia is concerned
in relation to the French nuclear tests turns on the fact that these
tests can harm countries in the track of the winds, and accordingly
Australia believes that she has a legitimate cause of complaint
before the International Court of Justice. Mr recollection is that...
No, well, that's enough for this one.
Q. Two quick and unrelated questions I promise. Did you feel
yourself slighted in Washington or did you think that Nixon was
not quite up with the trend of Australiant politics, and the unrelated
question the other one.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, the answer to the first is no
Q. You weren't slighted?
Q. Did you think he was up with the trend of Australian politics?
PRIME MINISTER: I won't express an opinion on that. He is now. I
don't know whether he was before. Look, there's been no slighting at
all. This was a fabrication of Roy MacCartney last January and people
who work for the Sydney Morning Hera'ld know the circumstances in
which he felt spurred to fabricate that story.
Q. You've made-your position perfectly clear in South Africa on
sport. Have you got any decided views on trade with South Africa?
PRIME MINISTER: PNRoI. M EMTIhNIeT EgR: e neral principle is that trade with all

countries including divided countries is prima facie desirable.
The only limitation we put to that is where there are international
decisions made as there have been as regards Zimbabwe, which we
loyally observe.
Q. I have one quick and unrelated question. When may we expect
the Government to honour its pre-election commitment to the
publication of detailed economic forecasts by the Federal Treasury
a comtmitment which you reaffirmed shortly before the elections
will you be pursuing this matter as a question of urgency with the
Treasurer, Mr Crean?
PRIME MINISTER: This matter is being pursued. It is likely that
the quarterly bulletin that the Treasury issues will come out more
regularly. There may be more frequent Treasury forecasts published.
Q. Will it come out in more detail the quarterly bulletin?
PRIME MINISTER: I think this is being considered, this is a
possibility. Q. On Francis James. In view of reports of elaborate security
surrounding his departure from China and entry to Hong Kong, is it
reasonable to assume that the Australian Government has asked him
to go quietly at this stage since we have the Embassy only about
three days established?
PRIME MINISTER: No. The Australian representatives have made it
plain to Mr James that if he wants privacy, they will help him enjoy
privacy. If he wants to speak to the press, he is completely free
to speak to the press. The Australian Government has expressed no
opinion on whether he should make statements or not. Gentlemen:
this is one subject on which I've made no statements at all despite
a great deal of blaggarding and pressure since my visit to China,
and it might be appropriate for me to say that I have appreciated
the co-operation and the honour of those journalists who accompanied
me to China. They knew that I had a message. They accepted that
it would be in the interests of Mr James and his family that there
should be no publicity attached to this matter. All of us, all
these journalists, I'm glad to say, as well as my own colleagues and
I, had taken up the position of Mr James in that fortnight when we
were in China in the middle of 1971. When I was coming on the train
from Wongjo to the border the Chinese official who had accompanied
us throughout told me that he had three messages I could give to
Mr James' family. First, that he was in China. Two, that he had
violated China's laws. Three, that his case was under consideration.
I got to Tokyo that night and wrote and sent those messages by
letter to Mrs James. When I got back to Australia-just over a week
later I telephoned her about them. I told her that I thought it
would be in the interests of Mr James himself and of her family
that this should not be publicised. I told her I would be making
no statement concerning him without clearing it with her, and I've
remained silent to this day about it because I believed
and the events of last March bore it out that the more publicity
there was, the more drama there was about this, the more likely it was
that there would be a hitch in his leaving China.
Q. Mr Prime Minister, a question on the Constitution. You appear
to be working with a patched-up State Federal relationship which
constitutionally obviously isn't working at the moment. It seems

to be pulling apart perhaps rather than pulling together.
Prime Minister, when do you intend really getting to the core
of the matter, and Sir, do you perhaps see that the importance
oi the States is perhaps waning?
PRIME MINISTER: If one compares the present situation with 1900
and the 1890' s when State politicians drew up the Australian
Constitution, then one obviously would have to concede that the
position of the States vis-a-vis the Commonwealth is much less
significant, but it is inevitable in view of the financial realities
in Australia and in view of international arrangements which are
now so much a feature of everything that companies and individuals
and governments do, that the Commonwealthr should be predominant.
It was ' only on the eve of the last war that the Commonwealth's budget
exceeded the budget of New South Wales in size. Now the
Commonwealth's budget is very much as large as all State budgets
combined and most of the State revenues come from the Commonwealth.
Now the big thing that has to be done is to equate the functions
and the finances and there ha-s already been correspondence with all
the Premiers since the elections to bring about a better balance.
In effect, the Commonwealth wants to ensure that it plays a full
part in planning and spending the revenues which it has to find
particularly in those functions which it's now beyond the
possibility of any State Government whatever its political complexion
to provide in contemporary terms. In particular I suppose one has
to say education, health, transport and the whole conditions in which
people buy and use land are now beyond the capacity of the States
to provide good government.
Q. Would you say we're working under an outdated federalism?
PRIME MINISTER: Oh, of course we are. There's another feature in
this. The States have created a great number of semi-government and
local government authorities and particularly in the capital field
these authorities have as big a burden every year as the States.
And the worst governed areas of Australia, Sydney and Melbourne,
suffer because in the constitutional arrangements in Australia
these State creations, the semi-government and local government
authorities have no voice and no vote. So if we are updating
Australian federalism one has to include the people who are elected
as aldermen and councillors throughout Australia.
Q. Mr Whitlam, I just want to refer to New Guinea as Mr Somare
is coming here tonight.
PRIME MINISTER: That's why I have to knock off early, because I
have to go and meet him.
Q. While Mr Morrison was in New Guinea he said that New Guinea
would be independent in 1974. Is it the Australian Government's
policy that New Guinea should be independent in 1974?
PRIME MINISTER: Well this is a matter to be worked out in
consultation between Papua New Guinea and Australia. There are
international obligations reasserted only last November by the
General Assembly of the United Nations that we should be planning
for this purpose. I mean both Governments have a say in this.
Australia can't be compelled to remain an imperial power if she
doesn't want to. But I think this is a matter which we can discuss
at the press conference which Iguess will take place after
Mr Morrison and Mr Somare and I have had talks tomorrow.

Transcript 2775