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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 5359


Photo of Fraser, Malcolm

Fraser, Malcolm

Period of Service: 11/11/1975 to 11/03/1983

More information about Fraser, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 23/05/1980

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 5359

From the Press Office
The Australian Olympic Federation today makes its T_ alA
decision on attending the Moscow Games. ' AM' look~ tL
the way other countries throughout the world have r' ~ xded,/
to the call for a boycott of the Games, as well as t~ . vews
* of the Australian Government and Opposition. First, the
Prime Minister, Mr. Fraser:
Prime Minister-
I very strongly adhere to the view that the Government
has stated right from the outset. Even though we know it
involves difficulty for athletes and are sympathetic to that,
we strongly have the view that Australia should not send a
team to the Moscow Olympics. The Soviet Union has moved a
very large and powerful army into Afghanistan.-a small,
inoffensive, nion-aligned country. There is no justification
for their move whatsoever. The Soviet Union has to understand
that the Western world, independent nations of the world,
are prepared to take actions to bring home their abhorrence
and repugnance of that active invasion and suppression of
a people. That is what it is all about. I have hardly
met a person who doesn't say that boycotting the Moscow
Olympics is the best way of bringing the message home to
the Soviet Government and people. our own Olympic Committee
and Federation know the Government's views. I very much hope they
will heed the Government's views in this particular matter,
because when they make a decision it will be one that does not
only involve sport, it involves the future of Australia in
a real sense. It doesn't only involve sportsmen and women,
it involves all Australians, young and old.
Next, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Hayden:
Hayden I believe Aus tralia ought to go. Australian athletes ought
to participate.-it is quite clear that there will not be
an effective boycott. A majority of the important countries
of the world are going. It even seems as though the West
German athletes may go. But in any case, most of the important
countries are going, a majority of the African, and the Latin
American countries are going. The simple fact is this: not
being there will just impose an enormous sacrifice on Australian
athletes; deny them the opportunity, quite literally, of a
lifetime for them. It will do absolutely nothing about the
Soviet military presence in Afghanistan. If anything, that
presence will be larger and more formidable after the period
when these Olympics are over. And there are other ways which
will have to be explored to try to discourage Russia for her
behaviour, quite inexcusable, in Afghanistan. But imposing this
burden of sacrifice on Australian athletes is not the solution,
and more than that, it reflects a very unfair, a very uneven
way of responding to this problem. Wool, wheat, meat, minerals,
all these things where vast profits are being made, continue to
be sold to the Soviet Union. And indeed, contracts which expire
for wheat, for instance, will be re-negotiated. / 2

" AM" prepared an international round-up on the boycott.
First to the home of the boycott, the United States.
Report from Geoff McMullen.
United States
In President Carter's words, the United States does not
wish to be represented in an Olympic host country that is
invading and subjugating another nation in direct violation
of human decency and international law. The American
Government has fought hard to carry out the spirit of
Mr. Carter's words and to rally other nations to express
opposition to that picture of Soviet tanks rolling across
Afghanistan, a strategic event, according to the Americans,
that leaves the oil supplies of the Western world more
vulnerable, and the Soviet Union poised to encourage more
internal subversion in the shaky states around the Persian Gulf.
The American Congress, and this nation at large, have been
overwhelming supportive of President-Carter's call for a
Moscow Olympic boycott. Few have expressed much pleasure
about not competing in. Moscow, but it was widely agreed here
that this was the moral and strategic course of action. For
America's athletes, one of the greatest competitive teams on
earth, I saw them at their training camp in the Rockies, feeling
wretched that years of work would not give them the chance
at an Olympic gold medal. In Washington today, a minority
of 25 athletes was defeated in a last court action to request
their Olympic Committee to change its mind. Difficult as
that decision was last month, the American Olympic Committee
voted overwhelmingly to boycott the Games, and that sealed
America's course. The majority of the athletes, and of all
Americans, has accepted and reacted with solidarity and
patriotism to the President's call.
Canada Despite the intention of several European countries to
send Olympic teams to Moscow, the Canadian Government is
holding firm to its commitment to boycott the Games. The
decision, which had been made on April 22, will not be changed,
says External Affairs Minister, who has also made it clear
that the Canadian Government is disappointed by the defection
of so many European allies from the boycott. In fact, it
was on the premise that those allies would speak with a single
voice against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, that Canada
made its own announcement, somewhat belatedly compared to
other countries. A few weeks before Ottawa had announced its
intention to boycott the Games, the Canadian Olympic Committee
had said it would send a full team. But when the Government
finally did act four weeks ago, the Olympic Committee quickly
acceded to the Government's wishes. Canadians by and large
seem to favour the boycott. That is partly because the US
is Canada's closest neighbour and major defence partner. / 3

New Zealand
Here in New Zealand, the national Government of
Prime minister Rob Muldoon has made its no-go policy very
clear. It has withdrawn the right of employees of the State
to take special leave to go and participate, axed offical
Government presence at the Games, and ordered its Moscow
Embassy to provide none of the special assistance to
competitors usually provided. But it is sticking to its
policy, in name at least, in not interferring in sports
decisions. The sportsmen themselves are split. IMost favour
going, though yachtsmen, for example, voted against it, some
with their boats already aboard ships steaming for Moscow.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand Olympic Games Association is also
divided. It has already voted as a whole to go, and the
acceptance has gone to the Russians. But New Zealand
Olympic chief, Lance Cross, has indicated he is against that
decision and has called a meeting to review it. That
was due last night, but it has now been postponed until next
Thursday, much to the disappointment, we understand, of
Australian Games officials who were hoping for a strong
New Zealand vote in favour of going to strengthen their hand
in making their decision today.
Most African countries are going. However, as John Burrell
reports, the continent's newest nation, Zimbabwe, is still
undecided. Zimbabwe/ Zambia
Newly independent Zimbabwe has not yet decided whether it will
be sending athletes to the Moscow Olympics. It has been
invited by the IOC, but Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, whose
relations with Moscow are far from good, has yet to give the
go-ahead. While sportsmen wait for the decision, however, the
local Olympic Committee is preparing a team which will
athletes, a shooting team and yachtsmen. The Committee
Chairman said it would be a pity, after so many years of
isolation following Mr. Smith's unilateral declaration of
independence*, if newly independent Zimbabwe was not
represented at: Moscow. Across the Zambisi River in Zambia,
preparations for the Moscow Olympics have been underway for
months. Like many other African countries, Zambia has rejected
American pleas for a boycott of the Moscow Games. Its argument
is that as Western countries refusedto support Africa's appeal
for a boycott of the last Commonwealth Games, because of
New Zealand's sporting links with South Africa, there is no
reason why Zambia should support a basically Western boycott
of the Moscow Olympics.
Israel Israel's Olympic Committee decided to boycott the Moscow
Games by a vote of 17 against 8 just 48 hours before the
deadline. This followed a recommendation for boycott by
the Prime Minister, Mr. Begin, and by the sports committee of
the Knesset Israel Parliament in Jerusalem. The athletes are
disappointed, but they don't question the wisdom of the Olympic
Committee's boycott decision. This country has often been the
victim of discrimination by Arab States in international sports / 4

Israel ( cant)
meets, Israel has told the United States that in future
it counts on American support to fight such discrimination
against Israel as a gesture to mark Israel's refusal to
go to Moscow.
The debate in Britain has been an intensely political one, with
the Prime Minister, Mrs. Thatcher, taking a tough stand
against participation.
Britain Most of Britain's sporting bodies have rejected Government
calls to boycott the Olympics. So Britain will be represented
at Moscow. But some teams won't be there. The yachting,
equestrian and hockey teams have decided not to go, and the
shooting team are still deciding. And the overall size of
the British Olympic team has had to be cut by a third to
200 athletes. The Olympic appeal has fallen well short of
its target. The Government grant has been withdrawn, and
many companies have also withheld their financial support.
Mrs. Thatcher has conducted an unrelenting campaign against
Britain's athletes for their decision to go to Moscow, and
this wveek she made a final appeal for a change of heart.
She said medals won at Moscow will be of inferior worth, and
the ceremonies a charade. But most British athletes have
said they are sick and tired of the repeated calls for a
boycott. It is generally agreed that Mrs. Thatcher made
a tactical error in pushing them too hard and too early,
and if anything, it has strengthened the resolve of many
sportsmen and women. to press ahead regardless, to Moscow.
Sweden will go the Moscow. There has been no significant
public opinion against going, and no Government involvement
in the decision. So, on Tuesday this week, the Swedish
Olympic Committee opted to go to the Moscow Games. As far
as the other Nordic countries are concerned, only Norway
has decided to back Carter's boycott. The Norwegian Government
came out early, and strongly, for a boycott. The Norwegian
Olympic Committee decided to let Parliament make the decision
and thedecision was not to go. The day the word came through,
Norwegian wrestlers walked out en masse from the European
Wrestling Championships, saying that if they were not to be
allowed to compete against Russians in Moscow, it was
hypocrisy for Norway to compete against them in the European
Championships. The wrestlers action was a protest at their
own Olympic Committee. Norway, Denmark and Iceland are all
members of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and
are allies of the United States. However, the Norwegian
Government was alone in its will to boycott. Denmark and
Iceland are going. Finland and Sweden are neutral countries,
but Finland's neutrality is of a special sort, overshadowed
as that country is by the Soviet Union, and with, the same sort
of friendship treaty with Moscow that Afghanistan enjoys, or
enjoyed. Thus, Finland announced early that it would be taking
part. There was no dissension.

Italy Reported the Italians are deeply divided over whether
to obey their Government's official decision this week
to boycott the Games.
The Italian. Government decided last Monday to follow the
lead of most other Europeans and to boycott the Games.
But the following day this decision was reversed by the
Italian National Olympic Committee by a large majority
vote. So now the athletes themselves are confused by what
they call a decision Italian-style. About 200 Italian
athletes were due to go to Moscow, a third of them serving
in the armed forces. For them there will be no choice.
They have to obey the Government order not to go. Teachers
of physical education employed in State schools will also
have to obey the ban. But many athletes say they intend
to travel to Moscow all the same, even if there is no
Italian flag and no national anthem.
France France is also divided, despite the National Federation' s
recent decision to take part in the Games.
The French Government's attitude has always been that a boycott
of the Games is an inappropriate repost to the Soviet
intervention in Afghanistan. The Minister for Youth and
Sport agreed, however, that there will be no point in France
taking part in Gamnes reduced by other people's boycotts
to an assembly of communist countries. On the other hand,
it was for the French Olympic Committee to decide, which
it recently did, saying France will take part in the Games.
Not that this was a reflection of unanimous support. Four
groups, representing football, hockey, ' ice skating and sailing
wanted to delay a decision. Two, representing shooting and
equestrian sports, had already announced that they did not
wish to go to Moscow. Reaction among ordinary people has
seemed to me uncomfortable. Athletes are divided as their
Committee decisions showed, but one strong group here has
announced that ' we don't want to be the hostages of politics.
The Games belong to athletes and not-to Governments'.
West Germany
West Germany, regarded by many as the lynch pin in the
boycott debate, has decided to stay away from Moscow.
The Germans are angry and annoyed. Their decision to boycott
the Games leaves them isolated in Western Europe, and their
neighbours all decided to send teams to Moscow, with the
exception of Norway, and tiny Lichenstein and Monaco. After
the US boycott decision, the Bonn Government left no doubt
it favoured a ban and it has given the political advice to
the National Olympic Committee not to participate. After
a lot of soul-searching, there was a majority of 59 to
in favour of... a boycott. This met with public approval
as 80% of the population were against German participation.
The athletes are thinking differently. Their spokesmen said
flaming appeals to the representatives to consider the interests
./ 6

West Germany ( continued)
of the athletes and not vote against Moscow. There
is bitterness now, since the Germans are practically the
only major sports nation in the world, besides the
United States, which is not going.
Here in Australia, the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr. Ellicott,
has discounted reports that the German Olympic Committee
is going to re-consider its decision to boycott the Games.
Question IMr. Ellicott, is there any truth in the report that the
Germans are re-considering their attitude towards competing
in the Moscow Olympics?
Mr. Ellicott
I have had checks made with the Australian Embassy in Bonn,
and the information we have received from them is that there
is no substance to the story that the West German Committee
is likely to re-consider its decision. And that has been
checked with the Foreign Ministry in West Germany.
Rita flamlyn in Melbourne: From what we learnt last night,
the Australian vote today will be close. Kevin Gospers,
the Australian representative on the International Olympic
Committee has just arrived in from overseas to attend the
meeting. Ten delegates in all, three from Victoria and
NSW, one each from South Australia, Western Australia and
Tasmania. The chairman. is Syd Grange from Sydney. We were
told last night that he has never used his casting vote, but
there was speculation that today it could be different.
Secretary-General, Judy Patching, was non-committal about
which way the delegates would vote. It would be, we were told,
a very, very close vote. It would be a democratic vote.
John Rodder, South Australian-delegate,-says " yes, we are
going", for Tasmania it is predicted that they will follow
the no vote-. of the State body earlier this -year..
West Australian Housen(?) is in the hot seat. Every sporting
body in that State wants to go. NSW, from what we have learnt,
appears divided. One of the most active pro-Moscow lobbyists
is athlete, Chris Wardlaw. . He believes the vote will be very,
very close, but they will make it to Moscow.. -His prediction:
6 to 5 in favour. 1: 00 o'clock the meeting will begin. Four
hours later, at 5: 00 pm, President, Syd Grange announces the
result live on ABC radio. It will all be over: to Moscow
or not. The tensions of the last few weeks will have ended
for the delegates who have been -torn between the Federal
Government's wish for a boycott, and the wish of most
athletes to compete at Moscow. Last night, Kerry Wheel
spoke to a tense Phil Coles in Sydney about the agonies of
the boycott decision today.

Phil Coles
I have known what was expected of me and I have canvassed
the views of all of the sports involved in participation
in the Olympic Games.
Question If we do go then, what are our medal prospects?
Coles Well, without putting too much pressure on the teams
concerned, we have outstanding performances likely in
rowing, canoeing. We have two very definite medal
prospects. I understand the swimmers are really setting
the pool on fire up in Brisbane, and there are one or two.
track and field athletes that are bound to show up.
How much. though, do you think the medals will be worth?
Coles Well, I suppose you can say what is the worth of an
Olympic gold nedal at any time.
It is argued by some officials of the Australian Olympic
Federation that the absence of the United States and
West German athletes will affect only the track, field and
swimming events in the Games. They further argue that
if Australia goes to the Games, it has a good chance in other
events. This argument seems curious if you look at
Australia's medal history. Report from Graham Ramsey.
Since the modern Olympics began in Athens in 1896,
Australia has won a total of 175 gold, silver, and bronze
medals. Most of those, 73%, have been awarded for swimming
and track and field events. The rest, only 27%, have been
presented for events such as yachting, equestrian sports,
boxing and cycling.
The civil insurrection in the provincial capital of
Kwangju in the southwest of South Korea, has developed
into a stand-off. 10,000 soldiers surrounded the city and
the Korean airforce is standing by ready to strafe the
city if necessary. Talks are being held between the South
Korean administration and representatives of the people
of Kwangju. / 8

Probably the most relieved Federal Minister now that
Parliament is breaking for the winter recess, is
Mr. Tony Staley. The Minister for Post and Telecommunications
has been the target of Opposition Members in both Houses
wanting to know why no action was taken over complaints
by Sir Reginald Ansett that the Murdoch News Group had
breached the Broadcast and Television Act in their purchase
of Melbourne's Channel 0, now Channel 10. There have
also been questions about the future of the Chairman of
the Broadcasting Tribunal, Mr. Bruce Gyngell, whom Mr. Staley
has appointed manager-designate of the proposed independent
Multicultural Broadcasting Corporation. Talking of the
independent Multicultural Broadcasting Corporation, the bill
which would have brought the service into existence, was
yesterday referred to a Senate committee, casting some doubt
on the proposal to start ethnic television in October.
, ir. Staley interviewed.
In France, the governing board of the International Energy
Agency has achieved important co-operation between its
member countries, including Australia, on the question
of oil imports. Report from John Starr in Paris: the IEA
meeting has agreed to a substantial cut in oil imports by 1935
as a means of conservation. 000---

Transcript 5359