PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 7072


Photo of Hawke, Robert

Hawke, Robert

Period of Service: 11/03/1983 to 20/12/1991

More information about Hawke, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/01/1987

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 7072

JOURNALIST: We have something like more than 120,000 young
-people between 15 and 19 years of age out of-work. What do you
say to them?
PM: Well, you say these things. Firstly, that there has been a
significant improvement in the period since we have been in
office. Since 1983 we have created something like 700,000 new
jobs which is a record in terms of new job creation. I say to
them that we are not only getting the economy right so that there
will be a basis for stronger growth in the future but we are also
undertaking significant changes in the education and training
area. There has been an enormous increase in the participation
rate. More kids are staying in the education system. When we came
in there was only a 36% retention rate. That is up to 46% now.
There are more training and retraining programs available for
young people. So my message to young people basically is to the
extent possible make sure you stay in the education system
because this is an increasingly complex and difficult world so
get as much education and training as-you--possibly can.-It is
going to be better.
JOURNALIST: Can you say you will get a job?
PM: No, because that would be untruthful if I said to every
young person you can get a job.
JOURNALIST: Well, what do you think the major problems for
Australia will be in 1987?
PM: The basic task will be to ensure that we retain the very
significant improvement in our competitiveness that has been
provided by the significant devaluation that occurred during the
latter part of ' 85 and ' 86. That has put Australian industry and
Australian services in a more competitive position than they have
been in memory. Now we mustn't dissipate that competitiveness by
unnecessarily high wage increases. we have got to make sure that
we increase Australia's competitiveness in manufactures and
services because if we do that we will providing the sound long
term basis for our children.
JOURNALIST: The tax proposals put forward by the Opposition

PM: Which ones. I mean there are so many of them. It is Mr
Sinclair's which says give the taxing powers back-to the States
which makes the rest of Liberals and a lot of the Nationals
horrified. Is it Sir Joh's who is repudiated by some his own
National Party. Which opposition tax proposals do you mean?
JOURNALIST: Any of them seem to be slightly confusing for a
member of the publ. ic.
PM: They are all confusing.
JOURNALIST: But at the samew~ fhi Te ttheseib
seem to be more attractive to the average person in the street.
PM: On the contrary. The average man in the street is-appalled
by them because the average man in the street
JOURNALIST: Is he though?
PM: The average man in the street is much more intelligent than
the commentator give him credit for being because he knows that
if you look at Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen and he treats the Federal
opposition with contempt and that is fair enough because that's
basically how I suppose they should be treated and are by most.
And Sir Joh certainly has that attitude. Now his proposal for a
flat tax will mean that the average bloke in the street is
going to pay more tax. So he is not enamoured of that. We will
win the election and one of the reasons-why we will win an
election is because we are dinkum about tax reform and we are
dinkum about ensuring that there is fairness, that the wealthy,
privileged minority can't avoid tax and impose a greater burden
on your average viewer. It is your average viewer I am concerned
about. JOURNALIST: The New Right. What role will that play in politics
this year?
PM: They will be devastating for the formal conservative parties
in this country. They are already doing this. Their spokesmen are
saying look, that Liberal Member of Parliament, that Liberal
Member of Parliament, those Liberal Members of Parliament, we are
going to shoot them down. Just saying it quite like that, they
are out. Now that is creating consternation and havoc and
bitterness, factionalism and hatred in the opposition parties.
They are disintegrating.
JOURNALIST: Are you pleased to see that?
PM: Well, I would be less than honest if I didn't say as leader
of the Government that I saw some satisfaction in it if I didn't
see satisfaction in what was happening.
JOURNALIST: You are off to the Middle East?
PM: Yes.
JOURNALIST: What is the purpose of that visit?

PM: Well, for a long time now I have had invitations from
Jordan, Israel and Egypt to visit. And it hasn't been opportune
for me to do it before now. It is important to do that I think
not simply because I have got the invitations but for these two
reasons. Australia had important bilateral relations with these
countries and I want to do what I can to improve them. it is also
the case that that is a region which is volatile, which could be
a flash point for a wider international conflict. Now I go there
not with any assumption or presumption that I am a mediator or
console things. But I think it is important that a nation like
Australia which is respected by those three nations should have
th-e opportuni-t-y -of-1istening to what they have got to say and
being as aware as we can directly of the events there.
JOURNALIST: You have been-in-of-fice--for four -yea-rs.---Has--i-t -beenworth
PM: Too right. It's been challenging, stimulating, rewarding,
exciting and importantly I think objectively it can be said it
has been constructive. I feel certain that Australia is a better
place now four years later than it was at the beginning of 1983.
JOURNALIST: Has it been four good years for you Mrs Hawke?
MRS HAWKE: Yes, extremely good. I have felt a great deal of
pleasure in the fact that this Government has tackled a lot of
the hard things. A lot of things in Australia have just grown
like topsy and they have looked at some of the hard things and
really given them the once over. And I think it is good to
observe that sort of thing. This last year, 1986, was a really
tough year in that respect of tackling the hard ones but it is
fascinating, it is interesting and-satisfying. All those ithi'ngsthat
Bob said.
JOURNALIST: It obviously takes its toll though. What sort of
toll does it have on you personally and your family?
PM: Oh well, I don't want to overstate the toll. I mean I can
honestly say to you Elizabeth, that physically I feel better now
than I have ever felt in my life. I feel fit. I am mentally alert
and that hasn't happened by accident. while I work very long
hours I can turn off when I need to. when I put my head down I go
to sleep and do turn off. Hazel has got me on the Pritikin diet
and I am eating better than I ever have before. I get a good
quota of exercise so when you ask about toll I don't feel a
physical toll. There is a deprivation of privacy but I knew that
would be the case. So again that is not a toll.
JOURNALIST: Does it take away the ordinary day life for you
though Mrs Hawke? Do you find that you have lost touch with those
day to day things that you perhaps enjoyed doing before?
MRS HAWKE: Well, it is just different. I do different things. I
first I missed, strangely enough the thing I missed most was my
garden. But one gets used to just doing and life fills up so
quickly and easily and interestingly. I am not at all bored. I

don't feel at all deprived. on the contrary, I regard it as a
privilege to have this sort of experience for this phase of our
lives. It is an interesting one for me and I will put as much
into it as I can and I am getting a great deal out of it in many
respects. PM: I mean obviously if you are going to do the job of leading
this nation that is not a part time job. It is not a thing you
can do eight hours a day or five days a week and I tried hard to
get the job. I saw it as something that was a challenge,
I ______ something I thought -I could _' do * well and -some
coul1d-n'_ t do weil unless I just poured the whole of myself into
it. JOURNALIST: But were you as prepared Mrs Hawke?
MRS HAWKE: Well, I didn't pl-an--for -it-but-i-t-is nut -a--mat-ter--ofpreparation.
I mean I suppose you can say life experiences are
preparation for what comes next and that is how I regard it and
we have had many different experiences and phases during our
getting on for forty years together. It is a long haul. And we
have adapted in each of the phases and situations that we have
either found ourselves in or worked towards putting ourselves in.
JOURNALIST: Why do you think the public has lost confidence to
a certain degree in politicians?
PM: Well, it is part of the Australian ethos of knocking tall
poppies. I mean that is a thing that has grown up in this country
and it is fair game in the sense that we have an enormous number
of politicians. we are a country of 16 million people and we have
a national Parliament and six State Parliaments and the
quasi-Parliament of the Northern Territory. There is an enormous
number of them and so I think they are more -sort of exposed
because there are so many. People are always seeing politicians.
But as I say it is also part of the Australian approach of
knocking tall poppies and politicians are tall poppies. But again
I don't get terribly upset about that. I mean I think it is good
not to think that you are too far away from and different from
ordinary Australians and I like to think that one of the reasons
why I have had a fairly successful public life is that I am close
to Australians. So if they are sort of reminding you every now
and again now don't think you are too different from us. That is
pretty health I reckon. You know we can't really go anywhere in
Australia and just be Bob and Hazel, private citizens and not
noticed. But there are so many pluses about the job*. I mean it is
an indescribable honour to be Prime minister of a country which I
think is the greatest country in the world and the people I think
are the greatest people in the world. I mean to have that honour
of being Prime Minister of this country, you can't describe just
what that entails.
JOURNALIST: OK, well how do you relax? How does a Prime Minister
and his wife relax from the day to day chores?
MRS HAWKE: Lots of things. Tennis, golf, yoga, music, friends.
PM: No yoga here.

JOURNALIST: Are you not partaking in yoga?
PM: No. You have got to say this for her, she is persistent. No,
she is very persistent. You know on the diet, the Pritikin, she
talked about and then she went on to it herself but she didn't
you know yak, yak, yak and say come on get on the diet, get on
the diet but she did it herself and the sort of scepticism that I
originally had melted as I saw the good sense of it. Now, it
worked that tactic with Pritikin. In a subtle way she is trying
___ the same thing with
JOURNALIST: Will we see you with your legs tangled up around
your head some time in the future do you think?
PM: Well, the only person who might get me tangled up is Hazel
-and the yoga.
MRS HAWKE: And his daughter is a very keen advocate for yoga
too. She is working on him.
JOURNALIST: Golf of course is your biggest pastime and I notice
out the back there is a practice net for driving.
MRS HAWKE: That was his Christmas present, a practice net.
PM: Combined Birthday/ Christmas present. It has been my fate
since I was born to get combined Birthday-and Christmas presents.
JOURNALIST: That is a terrible misfortune.
PM: Yes, it is awful.
JOURNALIST: What is your handicap?
PM: Well, I have got it down to 17 now. I have been playing for
12 months and they have got me on 17.
MRS HAWKE: Have you got your card in?
PM: Yes, and I played to it at Royal Sydney a couple of days. I
am going to get it down further too.
JOURNALIST: When it is all said and done I understand that
television isn't a bad area.
PM: Oh you are talking about the swapping seats. Well, I don't
want to overstate this. People have asked me what are the things
I would like to do. I have got a whole range of things I would
like to do after this stage of my existence. And I have just had
the idea that I would like to do a series of television
interviews with people that I have had the opportunity of meeting
in Australia and internationally. I would certainly find it
interesting but more importantly I think a lot of bther people
would. JOURNALIST: Not keen on George Negus' role at all are you?
Take a seat on the Today Show?

PM: No. With all due respect my dear beloved George I was
thinking of something in rather greater depth.
JOURNALIST: I didn't hear you say that.
PM: Didn't you? Oh I see. George will recognise and love my
observation and the spirit in which it is said.

Transcript 7072