PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 5649


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: 13/09/1981

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 5649

Question The indications so far have been that CHOGM will be fairly
disruptive for Melbourne. What action are you taking to
minimise this?
Prime Minister
I have had a number of discussions with LIndsay TThompson. A
couple of days ago we both had a discussion with Chief Commissioner
Miller and he'll be having a press conference. We are going to
take out advertisements in the papers to explain what is
happening and why the roads have to be shut off. The security
requirements are important-. We all had a warning and a fright
with what happened at the Hilton. Innocent bystanders on that
occasion were killed or seriously injured and it is not just a
question of protection for the Heads of Government, it is also a
question of crotection of other people who could be caught up in
a by product of an incident. It is unfortunate that security advisers
say that at certain times roads do need to be shut off and one of
the reasons for this of course, is because the route is
predictable nd the time is predictable when people will be.
travelling :) yer it, from the hotels to the conference centre,
from the hctels to the opening of the Melbourne Town Ha] 1L. -It is
i.. hen there is a predictable movement that you have a heightened
seotriby dagrer. If somebody was trying to plan or do something
they would he able to know within a fairly narrow time frame
where somebody would be in certain circumstances. The car
parking is going to be either prohibited or very severely limited
Ln certain areas and along certain streets and again for
security reasons. It is ' the easiest thing in the world to
have a bomb with a remote control detonator in a car or
somebody standing a couple of hunde): ds yards away with a detonator
in their pocket and pressing it as some particular person goes
past. You just can't take those kinds of risks. But what
the Chief Commissioner will be seeking to do, what we will
want to make sure is that where there is obstruction to
traffic the roads are shut off so that people will know any and so
they can make arrangements accordingly. Lindsay Thompson
and myself have emphasised that we both want the minimum
disruption to the people in Me]. bourne. If they know what is
happening and why it is happening, then I believe it understood. A trial came I think without warning the other
day and the intention is to publish maps of routes that wil
shut off, showing the times and all the rest.
Question This will be just newspapers, there will be no TV or radio? / 2

Mr Fraser
I have suggested there should be something on television and
radio also and I am hoping to report in the next day or two
what in fact is planned.
Question Suggested to the Victorian Government?
Mr Fraser
No, I have suggested it to our own people. This is an expense
which is part of the CHOGM expenses unfortunately.
Question What about the overall cost. There have been some criticisms
that is it is unnecessarily lavish. What is the all-up cost?
Prime Minister
Well, the costs are prettly much as have been indicated, but there
is about $ 4 million worth of cost which is furniture, equipment,
carpets, which will be used by the Commonwealth and....
Question By the Federal Government.
Prime Miniser
By the Federal Government in the normal course of events, if you
like, it is ordering a bit earlier than we otherwise would,
but is is nzt lost to us. The desks are the desks that would go
into Commonwealth store and we would use when there is a
Commonweal-h requirement and there is a continued requirement
for these sort of things.
Question What do you reckon the total cost is?
Prime Minister
You see the security equipment is going to be of great value and
of continuing value. A large part of the cost is overtime
for the Victorian police and that goes into millions of dollars.
The total coqt I think, depending on how you treat the re-usable
items, is around about $ 12 million. The cost is high, but
that, and a major part of that, is security and I don't believe: that
security can or shoifdl be compromised and cetainly a very
great effort is is being taken to do everthing that can be donO.
that area. But I really think that this in a sense is the
wrong way of getting at this particular conference. I wanted
to make the points about, or saying what it is about. I wanted
to make the points about inconvenience to Melbourne because
I want the citizens of Melbourne to understand. Then, theimportant
thing is what Aoes this conference mean to Australia
and why is the conference in Australia? We believe the
Commonwealth Association is an important one and we also believe / 3

I think there are two, maybe three major reasons why the
conference is important to us. We live in a very dangerous and
unsettled world and while we cannot have any undue feelings abou~ t
what Australia, or even the Commonwealth acting together, can
achieve we all have an obligation to do what we can to
make the world a safer place, a more secure place and if anyone
doubts the need for that just look as I have said on many
occasions at the War Memorials in this city or capitals, or
any Australain country town and there you wi'll find thousands
of names on honour rolls, testimony to the fact that the world
was not a safe enough place on some earlier occasions. Even
if what we as one country can add. in some small measure,
to making the world safer, then we ought to, we have an
obligation to and certainly an obligation to our children.
The second major reason we try and make progtess in the
north-south economic issues can be described in moral and
humanitarian terms, but the practical pragmatic terms of politics.
We are all going to be better off if poverty in the world can be
diminshed and when 800 million people live on less than $ A200
a year, that emphasises I think, in stark terms the extent
of world poverty and the fact that hundreds of millions of
people live without any of the servicws which every Austrlaian would
take for granted, whether it is basic education -or whether
it is basic he-alth services, access to hospitals, the kind
of community support which people in this country accept and
take totally for granted. It is not a question I believe of
cutting up productive wealth of the world differently. I
believe it is a auestion of making a more productive world so
that more peo-DLe can establish themselves in a reasonable life
and a reasorirll_-) e future and the Commonwealth can certainly
contribute.-D that. The Australian interest in this comes
this is ob-hciusl-related also to making it more secure world and
a iire-.-peac-ui one, but it is also related to making it a
world where -;-ere will be more trade, we will be buying more from
other peopl--and they will be buying more from us and so
there is a v. ery real self-interest in assisting in the economic
take-off or' a larger part of the world's population. I ' think
the reason wl-y the Cormmonwealth meeting is important is: -to
, provide a forum for a large number of the very small states,
* island states, so that their views,-their aspirations can be heard
in a world fLorum. A large number of them cannot even afford
adequate international representation, cannot afford to be
represented at the Untied Nations, so how are they to make
their influence felt? This is particularly important with
a Commonwealth Conference taking place in Australia at the
edge of the Pacific where there are probably more of
these very small staes than anywhere else.
Question I wonder if we could look at some of these particular points
now. Prime Minister
Could I come baci-k to the other question I-wanted to-make, you
know why in Australia? I will say why I -think it is important
to Australi. a, but why is the Conference itself in Australia.
In a very real sense it was quite simply Australia's turn.
/ 4

It was mentioned, not in the sense of deserving to have it,
so much as in the sense of having an obligation to provide
the forum. The Conference has been in Singapore, in Africa
last time, the in the Caribbean Kingston Candad, Britain,
they are the most recent conference. And therefore where was it.
next to go? It would not be going to Africa again, it could
have been India perhaps, it could hav,. e ' been Australia, well
SAustralia was chosen. There are a limited number of Commonwealt~ h
countries with the capacity to mount the Conference. Obviously
quite a significant number can, but a number of the very small
countries cannot. The very fact -that it costs a great deal puts:
it beyond the capacity of a number of countries and therefore
if Australia believes seriously in the Commonwealth connection,
and if we believe seriously in the issues that I have spoken about
we need to try and make it a more secure world, then in a sense
we have an obligation to provide a forum and to do it as well
as we can.
Question Let's look at some of the part icular items. As far as Namibia cjoes,
is there s-cpe for Commonwealth diplomatic initiative here?
Prime Minist.
Not the kirnd of initiative that was taken over Zimbabwe which was
very much a Commonwealth problem, a Britain/ Rhodesian issue.
That was not in the United Nations forum in the way Namibia is
very much the United Nations forum. I have got no doubt that
the Heads Government will be wanting a report from the
contact n1, Britain and Canada, are part of the contact
group, and whtprogress is being made, and what progress is in
prospect. I was in the United States, Canada, and Britain
recently, I :-L-essed the need for progress. I think it is
agreed by all people that there must be and I think it-is
also agreed that South Africa must not be allowed to continue
ito frustrate progress towalrds a settlmen-t. Now what specific
action the Commonwealth might want to take, what we might
want to say on it, will obviously depend very much on the position
at the time, whether it is possible to demonstrate progress and
to show that there is some significant movement. But if not,
if it apears to be a stalemate at the Conference, then I would
believe that there would be a number of people who would want
to express fairly firm and rugged views about it and I think
the Commonwealth should.
Question It is possible that:, there could be Commonwealth representations
to South Africa?
Prime Minister
I suppose in a sense anything is possible, but I would not
, vant to -try and pre-empt: w. hat the Comtonwalth might decide,
but then you have got toi remember also that I have got a role as
Chairman anid a number of Commonwealth countries are ' much

closer to the Namibian issue than Australia is, and a number of
them might have have some very firm views about what ourght to
be done, but Ithink that will all be governed and determined
by what reports would be given of progress made up to this point..
As I see it, the progress is fairly minimal.
Question Are you disappointed in the United States,' attiude on the
South AFrican invasion of Angola?
Prime Minister
I think the United States looks on it as a counter to other
things, but it is the wrong way to settle the issues in Southern
Africa. At the moment I bleive the United STates, or up to
the moment, i believe the United STates has feld that privately
it can exert pressure on South AFrica so that progress can be
made. Now, if that is not successful, pressure miqht have
to become public and more evident. This progress must be made;
this is part of the philosophy of -what has happened in Zimbabwe.
If there is no progress you get a threat to peace and if there is
no progress in Namibia people who what independence will go
wherever they can to get support for independence and that leads
to the danger and the possibility of other countries being
drawn in or. one side or another. And that is part of why it is
so important to make progress in Zimbabwe.
Quesiton Are you rca-c any representations to the United States at the
moment? Prime Mini S.
No, at the moment I think, well not beyond what I have already
said when I was in Washington.
Question Angola came after that.
Prime Minister
Yes, but the Commonwealth, well I was speaking then about
Namibia, specifically. The Commonwealth Conference is taking place
in a couple of weeks time and there is no doubt that this will be
one of the issues of importance. There is one thing that I
would like to say and have it plainly understood. I saw
somewhere somebody said there could be embarrassment to
Australia because the Commmonwealth might want to take a view
different from that of the United States on these issues in
relation to Namibia. Well, I am totally relaxed, I do not
feel any eMbarrassemnt about that. The fact that a close
working relationship has been established with the American
administration and President Reagan does not mean that there
is embarrassment to us if on a particular issue we take a different
view. / 6

Question Even if it means criticism of the Untied STates?
Prime Minister
I don't know that anyone is going to want to criticise anyone in
particular over this particular issue, but I make the point in
strong terms, we will take the view that we believe to be
right. That was done over the issues in Zimbabwe, and there were
some risks and dangers in relation to that, but it
was done because we felt that there was no oher course
that Australia could honourably or properly take and there
was certainly no other course if there was going to be a
resolution of the issue, or a peceful resolution of the issue.
If the Commonwealth in a consensus way, wants to utter some
rugged words, Canada and Britain ar6 both under contact with
the United STates so there is a joint responsibility there
for making progress, it is not just the United States' responsibility.
Question Do you bZlieve the United STates will re-appraise its approach
to South A.. ica as a result of Angola?
Prime MInister
SO many things in foreign policy are in a constant state of
re-appraisal because it is an unfolding event, you are not in
a static situation and if something like the incursions into
Angola take: -lace, then clearly you have got to see how this
affects other elements of policy. Now how the United STates
sees it they will have to answer it for themselves. But if
there is no evidence of progress, I would not be at all,
surprised if the Commonwealth wants to take a pretty rugged
, approach ot it. I would be expecting them to and would be
surprised if they did not."
Question On the question of Zimbabwe, you played a prominent part on
the sett2eent there, are you now concerned at the introduction
of communist advisers from Norther Korea and is there
anything that Australia might be able to do about this?
Prime Minister
I understand this is. for a limited period. It is well worth
noting, I think, that these advisers are not from Eastern Europe-..
or countries under the influence of the Soviet Union. There
are still British advisers. There are a number of Australians
there as teachers and technicians and whatever. I was speaking to
somebody the other day who has got family connections in Zimbabwe
and his view was that th6re is a very high regard for wh-Ft Robert
Mugabe is seeking to do and a high regard for what he has so far
achieved in Zimbabwe.

Question Is there any possibility that Australian assiistancein the form of
people on the ground to Zimbabwe will be stepped up?
Prime Minister
There-is no proposal for that.
Question ( inaudible) military assistance, that is?
Prime Minister
Stepped up? there is no military assistance.
Question Well introduced?
Prime Min-ister
At the moment there are British advisers and I saw the press reports
about this. T just really have not got any comment to make
about it. There has been no request, there is no proposal.
Question Is this matter under active consideration by yourself?
Prime Minister
Not particuIarly, no.
Question Do you the Cczrmonwealth Conference to re-write or extend into
other areas the Gleneagles agrement? Strengthen, I -mean by
Prime Minister
I doubt it. It is reaffirmed, I would expect a number would
want it reaffirmed. But even if it is. notreaffirmed it still
stands as a document of continuing validity. There is one thing
here that I would like to say about the attitude of heads of
Government. We often get suggestions that the Commonwealth will
be diverted from the things that people will regard as important
by the in a sense side issues, however important those side
issues might be. But Ithink that misunderstands the nature of the
Commonwealth' involvment and the attitude of Commonwealth Heads
of Government who are at the meeting. They are all there
giving up a week or., maybe two weeks of their time, some have
long distances to travel, because they believe in the Commonwealth,
because they believe in a consensus approach, because they want*
to mtkae progress on certain issues. The issues will be the
economic ones, Southern Afriacan issues. The economic ones
breaking themselves up into a number of different sections. I
mentioned also the question of small states and island states.

But the Heads of Government are not, as I believe, going to
allow or to want the conference to be taken over by issues
however important they are, which might divert them from the
major matters on which they want to make progress. I think
that is sometimes misunderstood when people are commenting on
what is or could happen at the Conference.
Question But Prime Minister don't African consider sporting ties with
South AFrica to be an important issue and in the light of
the Springbok tour of New Zealand, won't they be seeking to
raise this subject?
Prime Minister
I would not have necessarily thought so.
Question What about private session?
Prime Minister
A large nuLrbar of matters will be raised, but the agenda has been
agreed and nobody has suggested that particular subject should
be annotate-as a subject. There are subjects under which it
cold be raise I. The South-African issues if you like, or
human righ-: s issues which is under Commonwealth co-operation,
but nobody, I'll have to check with the officials, but I don't
think anyo:-=. has wanted that particular issue to be listed as
an issue in -1-s own right, by itself. That again, just
emphasises at i anm saying about the things that they want
to make prc-ress on and believ e it is important to. That
is not to say they don't feel strongly about sporting-.
contacts with South Africa, of course they do and I think
everyone should understan& that. I have got friends, or know
people, professional people, who are just out of university,
who are working in South Africa and what is said about the
stories, the attitudes, the rules in relation to apartheid.
Whenyou hear about it first hand I think they would horrify
overwhemingly the great majority of Australians. And these
rules, discrimination continues as a matter of law in many
cases and so the whole policy of apartheid is utterly
repugnant. The Gleneagles AGreement is there. Everyone
knows it was a consensus and the basis of consensus if
you believe Zn it is that nobody can get the full-measure of
what they might have wanted. They do recognise that there
has to be some degree of compromise, as there was in the
drafting of the Gleieagles Agreement itself. Whether there are
attempts or not to redraft parts of that document, I don't know.
I have not met any great wish to see that happen and when I
was in London I met a number of Commonwealth Heads of Government,
again the wish seemed to be to want to concentrate on the issue2s
they are regarding as of major importance. There seems to be
a view that Fraser want. the Conference to concentrate " on
north-south economic issues. His wish is going to be diverted
by this or by that. It is not Fraser's wish that the Conference
is going to concentrate on these things, it is the Commonwealth's
wish because there has been, as you know a great deal of / 9

discussion with the Commonwealth leaders about are what are the
important things, about what do you want on the agenda, how do
you want it all handled. The emissaries that went around and
spoke to people, they all put in their reports. So, when
I say it is the north-south economic issues, these are matters
which they feel passionately about and maybe again in this
country we cannot understand why they feel so passionately
about them, simply because we take so lany of the material
things of life for granted, things which you know, are totally
absent. Question I wonder if I could just tie up this area with a couple more
questions. The Brisbane games, do you think these are
likely to be discussed and do you think there could be
some sort of boycott, even partial?
Prime Minister
Are you talking about the games, or the mini games?
Question The Commonwealth Games.
Prime Minister
There are scme trial games as you know happening in two or three
weeks time. but they are not Commonwealth Games, there are
people fro:' non-Comgionwealth countries going to those and
that is something that has happened in the past?
Question Is that going. to be boycotted?
Prime MInister
It is not a question of Commonwealth Games because there are
quite a number of non-Commonwealth people going to it.
Question But whatever they are, are they going to be boycotted?
Prime Minister
WEll, I have not got the list of who was asked and who has accepted,
you can easily get that if you want to Michelle. The Brisbane
games are in the hari6s of the Commonwealth Games FEderation.
They have got meetings scheduled to discuss matters which you
know have been concerning them and how they handle them, or
how they want to handle it, I don't know. I think that meeting
will take place after the CHOGM meeting. It may well be that
some of them would want to talk to me about the Brisbane games
and if they do, I would Ie very happy to do so. At the moment
it is in the hands of the Federation. They have got a meeting
scheduled which I think will be taking place shortly after the
Heads of Government Meeting.

Question Do think inaudible)
Prime MInister
I don't want to make any comment about that/ that is in the
hands of the FEderation itself.
Question A related point, Charles Perkins, a deputy SEcretary of Aboriginal
Affairs has said that black protesters in this country will
stop the Brisbane GAmes. Are you concerned about this?
Prime Minister
I don't want to make any comment on what Charles Perkins has said.
I think he has also said in recent times whether at the same time,
that he has got quite a high regard for Commonwealth policies
in the aboriginal area. I have noted that he is seeing the
Head of the Department about his remarks. Of course, I will
be seeing him on other matters later on this week ( Break in
transmission) ANd when I have been going around the Northern
Territory he has come with me and he has always been helpful,
instructive, and I have adopted the practice, from time to time,
of talking tc them quite directly about aspects of aboriginal
policy so fa as the Commonwealth is concerned. He has been on
the list to have that. discussion with me again and I would have
done it now. if I had not been away over the last three weeks.
You asked a -uestion, I am just making the point. I will be
seeing about those issues and not about these particular
comments. Ques tion
Do you believe he should be censured for his remarks which
' ppear to be a breach of public service regulations, or do
you think there should be special rules for Charles Perkins?
Prime Minister
No, there are no special rules for anyone but he is senior head
of the Department and I am not going to comment on it.
Question Are you worriEd in general about the massive aboriginal
demonstrations which are planned for the timeof CHOGM, and do
think this matter will be raised by leaders with you informally,
perhaps if not formally?
Prime Minister
Tf anyone wants to raise it with me, I would be delighted if
they do.
Question Fathter Lini, I think, has said he will raise it with
/ 11

Prime Minister
Yes, I know Walter Lini quite well and he is a very sincere and
well meaning person and rather than anyone have any doubts about
policy, I would much sooner if they.. do have concerns I would
sooner them raise the issues with me because while some people
have tried to draw analogies between what happens in Australia
Sand some other places, I think those analogies are quite so
far fetched as to be ludicrous. And in Australia, if somebeody
raises it, I will say, well for too long Australia did neglect
aboriginal population, for too long we did not have policies
that were adequately designed to assist, promote and encourage
the well-being of aboriginal people. I have said this publicly
before, over the last 20 years a great deal has been done,
in particular over the last ten years an enormous amount has
been done. Aboriginal people are not only eligible for all
the programmes of educational health and welfare which are
available to all other Australians, there are a whole range of
special programmes in addition designed to respond to the
very particular needs of aboriginal people. Like all significant
human problems it is going to take some time to overcome.
All the money in the world, and all the goodwill in the world
could not solve this problem next month, week, next year, it is
a problem that has to be worked at. There have been some very
significant advances and I believe without any doubt, that
overwhelmi ngly, if there are Heads of Government that want to
ask me about this, that they will understand that. Many of
them have puroo blems in their own countries which know are
impractical, and difficult and not capable of solution in a
short perio'd. What they would want to be concerned about, or
if they raise it, we recognise that there is a problem,
that we ar a " working at it and that we are devoting very
considerable resources to it.
Questions Prime Minister, on this particular point, one of the arguments
of the critics is that that problems tend to be in states
like Western Australia and Queensland where the attitudes of
Sir Charles Court and Mr Bjelke-Petersen are very much opposed
to aboriginal land rights, can you see the Commonwealth making
any progress with these two states?
Prime Minister
Well again, I have heard people who are critics of some aspects
of policy inithose areas say, for example of Queensland, that
Queensland was amongst the first to claim aborignal health
workers and that they have been very useful initiatives. People
might be critical of" other aspects of policy, so you get a
mixed situation, but at the same time people would understand
the opportunities and the problems of working within a Federaion.
A number of Commonwealth countries are themselves federations.
Nigeria is a federation. Sometimes state Governments will take
views that a Federal Government might prefer otherwise and
Coimonwealth people woulc understand this and the Commonwealth
paople would understand this. Again, many of them would experience
the same kind of problems. Pierre Trudeau has some problems with

a federation which are well known. It is not just a question,
therefore, when power is divided of being able to wave a wand
and pretend that power rested only in one place. I think the
great objective I think we have is to advance the cause of
the aboriginal people. It also needs to be understood that
that is not going to be achieved by going to war with another
administration because, however much people might like the
Commonwealth to exert total constitutional power if that were
to result in two administrations to be totally at war with
each other over a particular issue, the aboriginal people would
suffer as a consequence of that. I think that is not adequately
understood sometimes out in the wider community.
Question Does that mean you reject completely the Bill which Senator
Ryan will put forward soon in the Senate?
Prime MInister
I have been away for three weeks and I have not even looked
at Senator Rvan's Bill. No doubt the Minister would probably
have some discussion in Cabinet on it, I will have to catch up
on that. But it is a very important point. I think it is
generally unierstood by aboriginal communities. With what
Queensland is doing at the moment, it is not yet fully worked
out. I think' people need to wait and see what really is in
Queensland-s ind before jumping to conclusions about some of
these thinc-s.
On north-sc. th issues and Australia's record, is Cabinet likely
to consider ? he car industry submissions before CHOGM and take
any decisions?
Prime Minister
WEll, you would have to ask Sir Phillip what his timetable is.
The car industry decision could not really be of enormous
relevance to north-south issues. That is a question as to
whether we are going to allow more European and Japanese
imports into this country. The issues of more importance
were the textiles matters that we decided a year ago where
a larger part of the market is becoming open to imports
as each year passes where we have introduced developing country
preferences for the first time and I think we are the first
country in tfie world to do so. On this particular issue,
however much those who would like us to lower protection more
and to lower protection on the developing countries more,
I would ask those people to look at Australia's record and
compare it with that of other industrialised countries, becausein
per capital terms we buy more than most other developed
countries, if not more than all of them of the sensitive goods,
textiles, apparel and footwear. In general terms our purchase-s
from developing countries are high and ASEAN, for example,
are increasing their exports by nearly 40% a year for about
ten years. .13

Question Do you thing you have played down somewhat the positive aspects
of the textile decision in the way you announced it last year?
Prime Minister
I think the industry understood. If somebody wants to say to us
a market should be more open, that is a legitimate thing for
somebody with that point of view to say, but I don't think it
is right for them to go on to say they should be more open
because we have been so mean and miserable in the past about
access to our markets because I do believe Australia is making
progress. By comparison with other industrialised countries
we have made great progress and in many areas our markets are
far, far more open than are markets, as I would believe, in
North America, or Europe or Japan.
Question Except that view was disputed for example, by Mr ( Inaudible)
Prime Minister
No, it was not at all. He has got a certain view, but I don't
want to coirent on a public servant's view, but you cannot
dispute the facts about dollars spent per capita.
Question He suggested Australia had not matched its rhetoric.
PRime Mini._
But that is a 2fifferent question. I was saying that in terms
Of access to -arkets developing countries do better in the
Australian market than aLmost any other developed country.
And the ficgures will show that, per capita purchases and
percentage of market that is open to imports.
Question But Mr Stone was arguing that our performance did not match our
rhetoric when it comes to protection I am wondering whether you
feel that such criticism from such a senior figure does
undermine the thrust of your stand on this issue?
Prime Minister
No. Question The Governmenthas recently considered across the board cuts
in protection and you have sent a reference to the IAC on this
and quite a few of your ministers, such as Mr Anthony, have
made comments recently about tariffs, do you believe that the
Government will be in a position, and do you think there is
scope for general reductions in protection levels?
Prime Minister
WEll if I could answer those questions I suppose we would not
have sent a reference to the IAC. We sent a reference to get the!
answer. / 14

Question Do you think there is much scope for change Prime Minsiter?
Prime Minister
I think that is a matter for the IAC to do a report for us and
then we will make a judgement on that, but I have always
emphasised in this area two things, where it is possible protection
should be lowered, but secondly, it should be gradual. There
should not be undue disruption for Australian industry and that
there should be time for adaption. We are not in the business,
and this was clearly eveidenced in the textiles decision. of
caulsing undue disruption to Australian and to Australians
well-being. At the same time, we want to meet other
obligations and make this a more efficient nation and to
bnable us to concentrate on those thinas we can do best.
Question Are you planning any way of handling the problem of the Irish
hunger striker?
Prime Minister
I think if vo: have not read it, you should read the statement of
the Catholi? Bishops. I would hope...
Question I have rea' but he does not seem to have responded to it.
Prime M inIs-
NO he has not responded to it and if he is not prepared. to that,
I don't supcose he would respond to anything that I have said,
' or could sav'ΓΈ The probleMs of Northern Ireland are problems
which tragic as they are, are ones for the British Government.
They are not ones that we can get involved in. They are not ones
that we have any intention of getting involved in. I think it
is against the background of that remark we need to understand
the thrust of the statement of the Catholic bishops.
Question Have you been in t~ lephone contact over the last three weeks
with any othqr Commonwealth leaders inaudible)?
Prime MIniSter
No. There has been a lot of conversation going on over the
last six months and the discussions I had during* the period
of the royal wedding were enormously helpful and the reports o: L
the emissaries have been very helpful in helping to assess the
frame of mind, the concerns of other Heads of Government.
Question Are you confident that Pakistan will return to the Commonwealthl
and if it does, does this mean that the Commonwealth is in a
position to play more of a diplomatic role in that part of the
world and in relation to Afghanastan?

Prime Minist-cr
I don't really think I could answer the last part of the question.
I can't at the moment see how it will enable the commonwealth to
be more active. The first part, I would have to say that would
have to depend on discussions that take, place probably informally,
or in a closed session during the Heads of Gpvernment meeting
itself, you know the question of Pakistan's re-entry.
Question Do we understand that India is quite happy to see Pakistan rejoin?
Prime Minister
I can only say that India, as I understand it, is happy for the
matter to be discussed, and nothing should be implied from that
one way or the other about India.
Question What is Australia's attitude to the proposal from Gambia for
a committee to investigate breaches of human rights?
Prime Minister
That will be discussed under the item Commonwealth co-operation?
Question What is Ausralia's attitude to
Prime Minister
I think we need to look at the proposal in detail, but ( inaudible)
it is one of those issues where you are influenced by wh. at other
Heads of Government say. On all of these things you don't go
into the meetings with a fixed view, this is our view.
Question There was some confusion about this while you were away.
PRime Minister
But thie practice of consensus means that you have to be able to
take into account the views of other countries as they are expressed
in the Conferpnce. You don't go in with just a fixed position
unable to move. That is not a consensus operation. On that
particular item I would be very happy to listen and to hear
the views of other countries.
Question Are we concerned at all that Mr Muldoon might push the iss-ue
of human rights in other Commonwealth countries as he indicated
a couple of months ago? ./ 16

Prime Minister
Well I think we will just see what happens. Again, that is where
the comment I made about the attitude of Commonwealth leaders
to the Conference and what they have to achieve from it. Not
just this Conference, any Commonwealth Conference, it is very
important. There is no other Conference in the world where
Heads of Government give up a week or two weeks of their time
Coming from wealthy countries, from the least developed countries
from nearly every continent, nearly every race, nearly every
kind of background that you can imagine and they do so because
they value the relationship. That is the reason I believe, they
would not want to allow themselves to be diverted from the
main things that they regard as important.
We have just got a couple of questions to finish on. We would
just like to ask you, you won't be surprised about this,
whether you feel you have recovered over the last three weeks?
Prime Minis-ter
Totally, I think I probably recovered a week ago and therefore I
much more e.> oyed the last week.
Question This is the third time you have been sick in recent years, is it.
going to mea-that you will slow down a little bit?
Prime Minis: r
I read your civ-ce on that. Parts of it you maybe misunderstand
because a ve'_-y large part of Cbinet discussions take place
without me being present. Cabinet committees make finaldecisions
no-always, but overwhelmingly and I am not part of
those discussions.
Question They don't do much while you are away.
Prime Mi-nister
Well, they are meant to. ( Inaudible) I don't think that is
right. Question Will change your style at all?
Prime Minister
What is my style?
Question To work very hard. / 17

Prime Minister
I think it is in my nature to work hard and I will probably go
on doing it. Over the years there has been a quite steady
process of evolution from the Prime Minister. You look at the
Prime Minister's office five or six years ago. All the outriders
have basically been moved out to other departments. I did
quite deliberately. Other Prime Ministers ihsisted on keeping
the National Gallery, maybe the Office of Womens Affairs
attached the Prime Minister's Department and this did not
make sense.
Question But that is trivia, you have become more involved in the
central ( Inaudible)
Prime Minister
I have always been involved in the central ( inaudible), but if
they are major matters I think the Prime Minister -must be
involved. NOt necessarily involved in the fine details, but
certainly involved in the broadthrusted policy of the Government. / 18

Question: So, essentially, you won't be modifying the way you conduct yourself
in the job?
Prime Minister:
I am not sure that your interpretation of the way things
inaudible., past is necessarily right.
Question: Well that is funny because my interpretation..
Prime Minister:
If you are saying am I going to work hard * at the job,
of course I am going to work hard at the job. It is an important
one and the Prime Minister has got to be able to there does
need to be a better understanding, as Mr Anthony said, and as
I think Senator Baume might have said also, of the work'load
on Ministers, and of the demands on Ministers, obviously
the demands on a Prime Minister. It is a large country and
with modern aircraft, people expect you to be all over the
country and carry on with the business of administration at
the same time. Probably over the years, the pressures on
government ' nave grown with time. I would like to be able
to reduce time Ministers either sit in Cabinet or in
Cabinet mee: ings, for example, but a large part of that
workload i~ s nerated by Ministers, who, if not the major
part, to t. major part, by Ministers whno write submissions.
Question: Do you t: r that -will be possible to reduce the time
Ministers Zz:: end in Cabinet?
Prime Minisz: er:
I have as' e_ . ivy Department to Cabinet and Cabinet committees,
sure I h'-ave asked my Department, the Cabinet office, to do a
survey an.: Ai see what ways tmight be involved with achieving this.
Question: When did you ask them to do that, PM?
Prime Minister:
A few dlays ago.
Question: How are they going to do that? Are they going to talk Ministers
. inaudible?
Prime Minister:
I think they will just analyse the nature of the work that cormes
forward and see what suggestions or alternatives. But this has been
done on more than one occasion, because of the pressure-of work,
but by far the major patt of it is generated by the Departmnent~ s
and by Ilinisters as well.
Question: V1Then do you expect the result of this?

Prime Minister:
Not before CHOGM.
Question: Do you think it would be better if Ministers were spending
less time in Cabinet and Cabinet committees, and more time
outside, perhaps dealing with people and dealing with the
electorate? Prime Minister:
Well, there is not only that, but also being present in the
Parliament. If a Minister goes out of Cabinet before a Cabinet
committee, he has probably got people stacked up in his office,
who he needs to see, who he has made appointments with to see,
and it is important for people to be able to get around.
It is important I believe for them to pay more attention
to what happens in the Parliament.
Question: And the electorate as well?
Prime Minister:
The wider con. rnity.
Questicn: What m.: de you do this? Was it your illness?
Prime Minister:
No. Question: Coincidental? Prime Minister:
In this particular year, we made the decision it was virtually
the RCF exercise, and so the senior Ministers involved in that
most of whom, w, e re also involved in the Budget Committee have had
an enormously heavy burden. I think that and I haven't been on
either of those committees, the Budget Committee or the RCF, but
those Ministers have had an enormously heavy workload of
Cabinet work and the RCF has the continued responsibility
to oversight the impleme. ntation of those decisions. Now,
we are not going to be doing another RCF exercise, so that won't
there, but the workload has been very, very heavy indeed. I think
that it will do good things if we can reduce the Cabinet time.
I have spoken to other Ministers about that, the time that is
being spent in Cabinet. One or two have even spoken to me about it.
Question' 1
When did they speak to you about, PM?

Prime Minister:
I think I probably made one at inaudible... I have just been
conscious of it, mostly through the RCF and the Budget exercise.
Question: You are also planning to get Parliament fairly early this year,
aren't you? Why is that?
Prime Minister:
Well, there is not agreat deal of legislation drafted and one
of the things that we want to make sure of is that we don't have
the rush of legislation at the end of the session It is obviously
particularly important with the Senate's composition, and it is
obviously important to have legislation at the beginning of the
session so that there can be matters for debate in one House or
the other. That means setting firm timetables for the shutoff
date of introduction of legislation and all the rest, and unless
there are exceptional circumstances, the shutoff date for
legislation into the Parliament is October 1.
Question: When did you take that decision?
Prime Minister;
Some weeks aco.
Question. So when you going to get up?
Prime Mi. ister:
I don't really. We will see what happens.
Question: But you *. ill try and get up fairly early?
Prime Minister:
We will just see when, you know, inaudible free, but the
requirements really are to make sure that the Parliament
has an orderly programrme of business and that..
Question: As opposed to last session?
Prime Minister:
Last session we lost a month because of by-olections, . r: d w
also lost time because we had a number of very importait m: n. i: rs
that had to be dealt with and had to be got right. You that,
and you know what they were Transport, Health, and tlihc-' were otheand
the RCF exercise itself. So, having the nature of that.
programme as probably inevitable that we were going to lost:, time.
But we are not going to have orderly programmes for the operation

Prime Minister:( cnt.)
of Parliament unless we have cutoff dates for the introduction
of legislation. Now, if you have got an emergency like the
meat business, then obviously you have to do something about that
and you can't stick to a rigid formula for that. You have got to
have your exceptions, but for most legislation, that doesn't
apply. Question: Can I just ask when you expect to take the Sinai decision?
Prime Minister:
Tony Street is going to the United Nations shortly. I doubt
one of the reasons this was delayed as we have gone down the
track there have been more threads that we have wanted to
follow through. When I saw President Sadat, that left one or
two things I wanted to follow through. We put one or two
questions to the United States, not in any sense would we
want to put any pressure on them in relation to it, but
we are waiting at the moment for a response from them.
If we haven't got it by the time Tony Street goes to
Washington, he will be speaking to Secretary Haig there
he has gct an apcointment arranged.
Question: Do these related. things such as chain of command for the
force and..
Prime Mi: ister:
No, they e a r e of matters and I don't want to go into
the detal of it.
Question: When did we put those questions to the United States?
Prime Mini s: er:
It has been a continuing process, you see.
Question: When is Street going to be there?
Prime Minister:
In a week's time or something. It is the annual United Nations....
Question: So it is almost after CHOGM?
Prime Ministeor:
It could be. It would be wrong to write that it is imminent. S./ 22

Prime Minister: ( cont.)
We have offered the security thing and the Melbourne thing
earlier, didn't we?
Question: Yes. Prime Minister:
There is ona other thing that I would like to say about our
attitudes to this and it is something that I can't achieve
by ourselves and it is something the Government can't achieve
by itself. We not only have 40 heads of government coming to this
country, we have some hundreds of people in the delegations,
some of the delegations or one of them, I think, is up to about
Question: the opposition.
Prime Minister:
No, not in that '. ace, it is all officials and other Ministers.
You ha-v also gcot, somebody said this morning, up to 800... end of tape

Transcript 5649