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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 7251

SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA THE HON. R.J.L. HAWKE, AC, MP THE 1987 SINGAPORE LECTURE " THE CHALLENGE OF CHANCE IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION" SINGAPORE- 27 NOVEMBER 1987

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Hawke, Robert

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

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

Release Date: 27/11/1987

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 7251

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY EMBARGOED UNTIL DELIVERY
SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA
THE HON. R. J. L. HAWKE, AC, MP
THE 1987 SINGAPORE LECTURE
* THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGIONE
SINGAPORE 27 NOVEMBER 1987
Mr Prime Minister
Mr Rajaratnam
Professor K. S. Sandhu, Executive Director
of the Institute for South East Asian Studies
I was honored when my friend Mr Rajaratnam extended to me an
invitation to deliver the 1987 Singapore Lecture.
Since its inception in 1980 the Singapore Lecture has been
delivered by a number of distinguished speakers.
This is the first time however that you have invited a
serving head of government to address you, and the first
time you have invited a speaker from within the immediate
Western Pacific region.
That I believe imposes on me a responsibility which I am
happy to accept to outline to you my-own perspective,
based on my involvement in public affairs in Australia, on
the ways in which we as a region might master the principal
challenge facing us.
That challenge is the challenge of change and there can be
few more appropriate venues than Singapore to discuss it.
It is the challenge to anticipate change and to channel it
for constructive ends or, if events are unanticipated, to
have the perspicacity and flexibility to adapt quickly.
It is the challenge to leaders and opinion makers to inform
and guide those affected by change so that the pace and
benefits of change are not impeded by fear or ignorance.
It is the challenge to individuals and societies to be open
to change and to question whether precepts and practices
inherited from the past are still appropriate for today.
In many ways Singapore is a model of the region's increasing
importance in the world economy and a paragon of flexibility
in the face of changing circumstances. CC) 2)

2.
Your economic performance makes you one of the success
stories of our times a story based on hard work and a
capacity to grasp opportunities as they present themselves.
only two years ago, Singapore's long burst of growth came to
an end as the economy slumped into recession. But it is to
the lasting credit of all Singaporeans that you were able to
make the necessary sacrifices and adjustments to your
economy. As a result, the nation is back on the growth path
with the economy predicted to expand by 8 per cent this
year. Although this evening I want to suggest ways in which we can
understand and master change, I say at the outset that, in
the light of that recovery, the people of Singapore, and
their Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, need no advice from me
about bouncing back from unexpected adversity.
In talking of the region this evening, I am defining it to
encompass the two superpowers, the United States and the
Soviet Union; the world's most populous country, China; the
economic power-house of Japan; the dynamic so-called NICS;
the countries of ASEAN; the island states of the South
Pacific; Australia and New Zealand; and the other nations of
East and South East Asia.
This region contains the greater part of the world's
population and produces the greater part of the world's GNP.
Its economic growth has been such that in recent years it
has been exporting and importing more across the Pacific
than the older economies trade across the Atlantic. Yet it
still includes societies which have failed to take advantage
of the region's overall prosperity and whose people as a
consequence still live in poverty and hunger.
The region embraces many of the religions and cultural
traditions of the world. If one includes India, it holds
the world's seven largest armies. It encompasses the
principal exponents of free market capitalism and the
principal interpreters of Marxism-Leninism.
The sheer dynamism of the Western Pacific region has led
many commentators to predict the next century will be the
' Pacific Century'.
But before we start counting the rewards that will flow to
us in the Pacific Century, our task must be to ensure that
the prediction actually comes true. V
The fact that things have gone so well for us in the recent
past does not mean they will continue to go well.
We cannot assume, as I think too many observers do, that
because the Japan of the 1950' s and 1960' s is today's
South Korea then, tomorrow, the baton will automatically
pass to other countries here in South East Asia. ' 3 U L ' 3

3.
And to assume continued political stability and harmony is a
reassuring assumption, and certainly a polite one, but it is
not necessarily one that will stand us in good stead.
I do not want to be misunderstood. The Asia-Pacific region
holds the potential to fulfil its greatest expectations.
But those expectations will only be fulfilled as-the result
of hard work and a clear understanding-of our challenges and
our problems, as well as our potential.
The point must be to identify the pragmatic assumptions on
which our planning should be based and to do so before
problems loom so large they cannot be handled excep-t by
wrenching dislocation.,
The key assumption I believe should be the constructive
power of enlightened self-interest.
What this means is recognising as an enduring fact of human
nature that each of us wishes to advance our own standard
and quality of life and that of those who depend on us.
This does not, I stress, mean responding to the selfish
demands of individual groups. Quite the contrary it means
seeking ways in which individual wishes for self-advancement
can be better advanced through mutual cooperation.
To draw an example from the domestic economy one which has
been repeatedly validated throughout my years as both a
trade union leader and a politician this means overcoming
the traditional antagonisms and rivalries between employer
and employee and winning their cooperation so as to enhance
the interests of both groups through an expansion in the
size of the whole economy.
Achieving this goal requires active involvement in the
decision-making process on the part of those who will be
affected by the decision and of particular importance in
this time of rapid change it requires the sharing of
information relevant to those decisions.
The challenge is always to create a secure and confident
environment within which we can each rely upon, and build
our strategies around, the continuation of cooperative
responses of others.
These prescriptions are valid beyond the Western democratic
tradition of Australia in which I have operated.' I do not
seek to underestimate the differences which exist among the
systems of different nations. But I am convinced that
whatever our system, the bottom line is that successful
change ultimately requires the informed cooperation of those
who will ultimately be charged with implementing it and
those who will be affected by it.

That cooperation is most easily won if the reasons for
change and its costs and benefits are understood and
accepted by the whole community which underlines the need
for a leadership capable of winning that community
understanding and acceptance.
For economic change unaccompanied by the necessary changes
in social attitudes can only be stalled and frustrated, and
the scale of the consequent losses can be enormous.
If fear or ignorance prevail over enlightened self-interest,
the costs can be measured in lower living standards and
poorer life chances, not only for those individuals affected
but for the whole community.
It took the cataclysm of World War II to expose the assumed
verities of the thirties, based as they were on narrow
conceptions of national self-interest, and to fashion the
consensus which led to Bretton Woods, the GATT and the
trade-based growth era of the sixties and pre-oil-shock
seventies. In that case the cost of ignorance and fear was a lost
decade of growth in the thirties and the disaster of World
War II.
The lesson is that we can choose to live dogmatically
entrenched in our old attitudes towards each other or we
can choose to seek areas of cooperation and routes to an era
of growth which is all the more beneficial because it is
mutual. Ladies and gentlemen,
To help us find this path to growth and so ensure that the
Asia Pacific region does in fact fulfil its potential I want
to turn to the trends which I believe will endure as
important influences on us and on our region over the next
quarter century or so.
In embarking on this course, I am fully aware of the dangers
awaiting those who seek to predict the future.
As George Orwell pointed out, it requires a constant
struggle even to see what is in front of one's own nose.
Had an Australian Prime Minister been asked a quarter of a
century ago, in 1962, to foreshadow how the Asia-Pacific
region of today would appear, he could scar!' ely have
imagined what was in store.
He would have been addressing you, not a week or so before a
Summit, but a month or so after the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In 1962 the region was characterised by uncertain economic
growth in nations still heavily reliant on the production
and export of agricultural commodities. 8 r"

In 1962, the gigantic bulk of China lay locked to the rest
of the world, poised on the verge of the turmoil and
economic regression of the Cultural Revolution. who could
have predicted either the extent of that turmoil or China's
subsequent determination to achieve effective and rational
modernisation and openness to the rest of the world?
In 1962, many Western observers still operated on the
assumption of a monolithic Sino-Soviet bloc several years
after those countries had in fact entered a deep and
enduring schism.
And could an Australian observer in 1962 have predicted that
Singapore would today be the independent, vigorous,
resilient city state that it now is?
Australian perceptions of Singapore in 1962 were indeed
varied. I was interested to read one admittedly extreme
view, put at the recent " Pacific 2000: Global Challenge"
Conference held in Singapore. Professor Gregory Clark, who
is now Professor of Economics at Sophia University in Tokyo,
dlaimed that as a young Australian diplomat in Canberra in
1959 he found parts of the Australian government deeply
concerned over a vigorous, intelligent, progressive Chinese
politician in Singapore, whose possible electoral victory
was seen as likely to result in the communisation of
Singapore. Of course that politician won his victory. His
name was Lee Kuan Yew.
I do not mean to be disparaging in recounting that story.
After all, in Australia in 1962, there was a certain trade
union official who, it is said, had attracted the unwanted
and unnecessary attention of Australia's security people for
his political work. And his name was Bob Hawke.
So with all the necessary caveats about the difficulties of
the task of prediction, let me now to use Orwell's phrase
again struggle to see what is in front of our noses today.
I have frequently said that the single most enduringly
important event of our time is the emergence of China from
its period of isolation.
Viewed from any angle political, strategic, commercial,
cultural this is a truly momentous transition.
The recent 13th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party has
done a remarkable thing: it has heralded a smooth... transition
of power to a younger generation of leaders while*
entrenching Deng Xiaoping's policies of modernisation.
These policies of modernisation are perhaps the clearest
example in action of what I have referred to as enlightened
self-interest. I ii

The Chinese leadership is acting the better to fulfil the
basic aspirations of the Chinese people for an improved
quality of life. The nation is putting behind itself the
days when mindless ideology was rampant an era which led
more to deprivation and national scarring than to progress.
I do not suggest that China is now about to abandon the
political principles it holds and I certainly do not
underestimate the differences between contemporary Chinese
society and societies like Australia.
My point is that China's commitment to modernisation springs
out of its realisation of the legitimate ' material needs of
its people. The implications of that realisation are
immense, not only for the Chinese people themselves but for
those of us outside China who seek to involve our economies
more closely with the Chinese economy.
From Australia's point of view, the prospects of greater
enmeshment of our respective economies through, for example,
joint ventures in mining and manufacturing projects in China
and in Australia, offer both sides enormous mutual benefit.
Only this month, and despite the initial doubts of a number
of sceptics, Chinese and Australian enterprises concluded an
agreement which I had been convinced would bring real
benefits to both China and Australia. It is the first major
overseas mining investment by the People's Republic a
project to develop the iron-ore resources of Mount Channar
in Western Australia for the Chinese iron and steel
industry. The difference between China and Vietnam in this regard is
stark. More than a decade after achieving unity through the
Vietnam war, that nation is still isolated, committed to
economic principles which derive more from abstract ideology
than from realism, and is consequently failing to take
advantage of the enormous opportunities which the region
presents to it. Vietnam is indeed an island of stagnation
in a sea of development.
I have been convinced for many years and with great
confidence since my discussion in Canberra in early 1983
with the then Premier and now General Secretary Zhao Ziyang
that fundamental and long-lasting change is underway in
China. More recently, and I am sure partly as atconsequence, there
have been more and more signs that the Soviet Union has
embarked on long-lasting and far-reaching change.
If China has embarked on its modernisation program
substantially in reaction to the turmoil and disorder of the
Cultural Revolution, the USSR has done so in response to a
crisis of stagnation.
In the past quarter of a century, particularly in the years
of the Brezhnev era, Soviet leaders opted for old thinking
and old methods in the management of their economy.

But our world is one where, thanks to the information and
communications revolution, comparative economic performance
can be judged continuously, widely and relatively easily.
The failure of the USSR's performance to measure up to what
the rest of the world, and, importantly, what the Soviet
people, could have expected of it, has been starkly
revealed. It was very clear by the mid 1980s that a new style of
leadership was long overdue.
Before I became Prime Minister, I made four visits to the
Soviet Union in the 1970s in my capacity as President of the
Australian Council of Trade Unions. I had become deeply
concerned about the plight of Soviet Jews unable to gain the
permission of the authorities to emigrate. The difficulties
and intransigence I encountered in that task gave me no
illusions about the nature of Soviet society but they also
give me hope for the current phase of reforms proposed by
General Secretary Gorbachev.
As-you know, I will be making an official visit to Leningrad
and Moscow immediately after my stay here in Singapore. I
have not yet had the opportunity to meet Mr Gorbachev but I
look forward to discussing these reforms with him.
Leadership can be judged, in part at any rate, from a
willingness to acknowledge the existence and scale of
problems. By that measure, Mr Gorbachev and his colleagues
are providing real leadership. At the same time as they are
employing disciplinarian methods to tackle corruption,
drunkenness and sloppy work habits, they are discussing with
an unprecedented degree of frankness where things are wrong
and what needs to be changed.
Mr Gorbachev has said that the country has entered a
" 1pre-crisis situation" calling for measures " amounting to a
revolution" as he put it " a revolution without shots".
I do not seek to equate the situations in the Soviet Union
and China. But it is worth noting that both countries, in
their efforts to lift economic performance, are clearly
reducing the emphasis on central planning, and are making
greater acknowledgement of the-merits of the market, of
incentive and of competition.
I am not suggesting that either country is embracing
capitalism. They are certainly not embracing Western
democratic ideas. But they are devolving responsibility in
economic management from the centre and that will certainly
raise expectations and generate political and social
pressures. The Chinese leadership has made a number of adjustments in
dealing with these problems while maintaining the firm
direction of modernisation. The capacity of the USSR, a
huge, complex, multi-national society with a sizeable and
sophisicated intelligentsia, to make similar adjustments is
still to be tested. j~~ L I

The key long-term question for the rest of us will be the
impact which these major internal changes have in the
international arena. That they have already begun to have
an impact is abundantly clear.
As for China, for well over a decade now, it has developed
important and constructive relationships with many countries
in our region, including Australia.
As for the Soviet Union, we are seeing a more imaginative
and subtle Soviet diplomacy in the world and particularly in
our own region. We not only have the evidence of Mr
Gorbachev's speech in Vladivostok. I was very struck by the
detailed attention he gave to our part of the world in his
book, Perestroika, New Thinking For Our Country and Our
World, excerpts of which were published recentlyy1 n the
Australian press.
We must watch very carefully to see how this approach is
developed. For my part, I would welcome a constructive
involvement by the USSR in political and economic
developments in the Asia-Pacific region. we seek mutually
beneficial cooperation with the Soviet Union in a sincere
and open-minded way. But we will be observing Soviet action
in, for example, Indochina and Afghanistan as indicators of
good faith.
Mr Gorbachev's period in power has certainly seen a welcome
reduction in tension with the United States. I think it is
fair to assume that there is a large measure of economic
self-interest in the Soviet pursuit of arms control
agreements. Massive military expenditures have clearly had
their impact on the failure of the Soviet economic
performance to measure up internationally.
I welcome the INF Agreement as an intrinsically important
step, not least for its Asian dimension in that Soviet
missiles will be removed from our region. I congratulate
the United States and the Soviet Union on achieving it. I
hope it leads on to major reductions in strategic weapons.
Beyond that, I want to see continuing dialogue and
cooperation between Washington and Moscow at the forthcoming
Summit and into the future.
Let us not forget the fact that our region saw the
super-power confrontations in Korea and Indo-China. A
resurgence of damaging super-power rivalry in this part of
the world would pose a threat to the stability which has
underpinned the region's economic growth ancd increased
prosperity. I firmly believe that the importance of the changes underway
in China and the USSR cannot be over-estimated. Those in
China have proved positive. The more rational and creative
path suggested in the USSR holds out positive prospects. I
feel privileged to be leader of my country at this
fascinating juncture for our region and the world. J) U*.

9.
Ladies and gentlemen,
' perestroika' means ' restructuring' and ' glasnost' means
' openness'.
At their face value, these are concepts which are not only
familiar to western economies but which have indeed been
critical to our economic success.
So surely it is a paradox that at a time when both Communist
giants, for different reasons and in different ways, are
giving some recognition to the Western concepts of
competition and open markets, the leading Western economies
are making disturbing moves in the opposite direction.
If those moves are not reversed in particular if the trend
towards protectionism is not halted we face, to put it
bluntly, the prospect of jeopardising the prosperity and
stability of those countries fortunate enough to have it,
and the hopes of those that do not.
Anybody who has heard me address international forums in the
United States and Europe recently not to mention within
Australia will know that I have not wasted an opportunity
to argue the merits of free trade.
It is a message which needs to be trumpeted loud, clear and
often and I shall continue to do so at every appropriate
opportunity. But it is a pleasant change to address an audience like this
in the knowledge that you appreciate, probably as keenly as
any group in the world, the advantages which flow from free
trade. The growth of Singapore and of the ASEAN countries
in general has been heavily reliant on access to a liberal
trading system.
The United States has become a particular focus of the
present world debate about protectionism, and for two
reasons. one is the gross distortion of agricultural
markets stemming from the actions of Europe and Japan,
against which the US has reacted through its own subsidies,
and against which some Americans are contemplating an even
more drastic response; the second relates to the apparent
inflexibility of US fiscal policy.
As we know all too well, fiscal inaction in the face of the
massive current account imbalances between the United
States, Japan and West Germany was the underlying cause of
the October stock markets crash and the associated
realignment of the major currencies.
US post war economic history has, until recently, been that
of a lender. That fact, combined with the relative size of
the US economy, had given it a degree of immunity from
international financial developments which few other
countries could expect.

The emergence of the US as the world's largest borrower has
been a more recent event. But it would have happened much
earlier except that US trade deficits since the early
seventies had been mostly offset by interest earned on
investments.
So even if the US were to begin to run a trade surplus
tomorrow, it would take many years before it could expect to
regain its net lender status.
This presents a major challenge for economic leadership in
the US: to recognise in a way which has not been required
previously both the interdependence of global economic
policies, and the increased dependence of the US economy on
the favourable judgements of foreign investors.
It is heartening to see that the US Administration has
negotiated a new fiscal package. President Reagan has
described it as " a beginning" in winding back their fiscal
deficit. Clearly much more work remains. The Reagan
Administration is also to be praised for its efforts to
resist the rising protectionist tide.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It must be remembered that this is not a task solely for the
United States. Western Europe and Japan also have crucial
reform roles to play.
Indeed, the rapid escalation of the Japanese trade surplus
over recent years, the corresponding emergence of Japan as
the world's largest lender each year and the growing
internationalisation of the yen will continue to test the
leadership qualities of Japan for some time to come.
Japan's economy is likely to experience continuing pressure
to open its markets further and restructure its industrial
base, certainly for as long as world trading balances remain
at their current unsustainable levels.
The change required in the economic structure of Japan over
the longer term, especially a greater reliance on imported
foodstuffs, is likely to raise quite fundamental political
and social sensitivities.
The question is frequently asked whether Japan should adopt
a more active international political role, one more
commensurate with its position in the worll economy. To ask
this is, I believe, to ask the wrong question.
The fact is that Japan's economic power will inevitably
translate into a higher international profile.
Such major economic interests carry the need to protect them
through activity in the international political sphere.
This is a natural link. j

The relevant question to ask is therefore what the nature of
an increased Japanese political role will be. It would be a
mistake if we think that Japan will, in taking on a
h" ewei" g htbee netdh e rUonlei, t eda utSotmataetsi, c aloltyh erd o Wwehsatte rnw e awlalnite s, AwShEeAtNh, er
Australia or whoever. Like every other country Japan will
pursue its own interests which at times will coincide with
those of others but at other times may not.
That Japan has been moving to a more active foreign policy
is evident in a number of areas. Japan has sought to
contribute to a solution to the war in the Persian Gulf. It
has signalled an intention to take a closer interest in the
South Pacific. The Nakasone initiative to contribute to
regional development through re-cycling part of the Japanese
surplus is another manifestation of a foreign policy
interest in the stability of the region which goes beyond
the mere pursuit of commercial interests here.
we all know that Japanese defence is an issue which arouses
debate and emotions. Given its interests, Japan will want
to ensure that its defence is secured. over time it will no
doubt do more for itself. I would say the important thing
is that it do so in the context of a tight integration with
the Western alliance and in the context of collective
perceptions about what serves the security interests of this
region.
For all these reasons, we must develop a greater habit of
consulting with and talking to Japan about international
political and security issues, not merely economic ones. We
have consciously sought to do this in Australia's
relationship with Japan over recent years.
Most pressingly however the crucial test of Japan's
leadership will not come in some new political arena but in
its performance on the crucial issue of economic adjustment
an issue whose resolution will directly affect the claim
of Japan, and the rest of us, to continued prosperity.
The Maekawa report provides clear guidelines for Japanese
economic reform which would yield great benefits to the
Japanese people themselves and to the rest of the world.
These guidelines involve a reduced Japanese reliance on
exports and a greater willingness to open its domestic
markets to imports.
If Japan were able by such means to exercise the same kind
of beneficial world leadership as the United States provided
in the 1950s, through open trading policies, then we would
all welcome that kind of leadership without reservation.
Let me also stress how crucial it is that the United States
and Japan are able to manage their relationship effectively.
It is a relationship which has the greatest significance for
the security and economic prosperity of others of us in the
region.

Ladies and gentlemen,
If I have concentrated so far on the major political and
economic powers of the region, I most certainly do not want
to leave the impression that the medium and small nations
can avoid the challenge of change or have no role in
mastering it.
The various organisations of regional co-operation which
exist bear witness to the way in which the smaller nations
can strive to advance their collective goals and to exert
their collective influence on the political and economic
giants.
ASEAN is entering its third decade as one of the most
successful regional organisations in the world; the South
Pacific Forum is also emerging as a valuable voice having
among other achievements conceived and implemented the South
Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty; the Cairns Group of Fair
Trading nations, which includes six countries from our
region, is playing a pivotal role in the multilateral
negotiations on the liberalisation of trade in agriculture.
Such co-operation is likely to become more important to
achieving our shared aspirations as our region faces the
legacy and in some cases the continuing experience of
colonialism.
As the situation in New Caledonia bears witness, France has
not yet found the way towards a constructive durable role in
the South Pacific.
In many nations which achieved independence in the 1970s, a
new generation of leaders is emerging to face the issues not
of immediate post-colonialism but of established membership.
of the world community.
In many of the South Pacific nations, the issues now are
ones of complex economic management, sophisticated foreign
policy choices, profound social questions.
In the former Australian territory of Papua New Guinea, the
second decade of independence is bringing new solutions to
the management of our relationship.
And in Fiji of course a military dictatorship has snuffed
out a democratically elected Government.
If these issues are to be resolved, close " and patient
cooperation and mutual goodwill will be required of us all.
In the context of regional co-operation, it is my hope that
all nations will support the efforts of the Aquino
Government as it negotiates the adjustment process following
the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship. The bloodless
political transition from oppression to People's Power has
earned the continuing respect, and warrants the continuing
support, of all who are committed to decency in government. I) 2 2~

13.
Indeed, if we are committed to achieving the goal of the
Pacific Century, we cannot ignore the fact that despite our
region's optimism and its overall prosperity, some countries
are burdened by crippling debt levels and appear to be doing
little more than treading water. In some countries indeed,
people are still not being fed, clothed or sheltered
adequately. Paradoxically, other nations face dramatic social and
political problems which result directly from their
increasing economic prosperity.
Tens of millions of would-be entrants to the workforce have
left their close-knit rural communities to seek a better
life in the cities. This is true throughout our region from
Shanghai to Jakarta. The population of those two cities
alone are estimated to total some 42 million people by the
end of this century.
And in South Korea, for example, there is a clear connection
between the country's outstanding economic achievements and
the unfulfilled aspirations for greater political
expression. Ladies and gentlemen
I have so far traversed just about the whole region. I have
left to last a discussion of Australia's role in the region
and Australia's capacity to cope with change.
I could not stand here, of course, and describe the
challenge of political leadership and economic adjustment in
our region unless I were willing to meet that challenge in
Australia. I think there have been times in the past when Prime
Minister Lee, believing that Australians had protectionism
in their blood, wondered whether we were beyond redemption.
At the time of the ASEAN's consolidation and development and
of the growth of the NICs a sceptical eye was cast on
Australia. But I can say with confidence that the era of
Australian complacency of postponing the task of
adjustment is now behind us.
Australia's economic history is replete with examples of a
promising economic upturn cut short by an inflationary
spiral. In the old days Australians habitually found it hacd to
reconcile their differences about how best to share the
fruits of growth. Excessive industrial disputation was one
result. Wage-push inflation was another. Poor economic
performance was yet another.
But as I said at the outset, the constructive role of
enlightened self-interest has a central role to play in
securing sustained economic growth.

In the Australian environment, that required each party to
understand the role of income restraint and the need to
encourage investment and job creation through mutually
supportive economic policies.
That is the approach which I have attempted to bring to my
stewardship as Prime minister of Australia.
It was the approach which underlay my calling of the
historic National Economic Summit Conference immediately on
coming to office in 1983 an approach which promoted a
shared understanding between competing groups and which
healed the divisions and discords which had marred much of
the seventies and the early eighties.
Few would deny that the approach has worked well. The
pay-off has been an absence of wage push inflation, a more
than halving of industrial disputation, a consistent decline
in the real costs of employing labour, sustained economic
growth, a growth in jobs at twice the rate of the industrial
world, greater confidence in the stability of the Australian
economy and an improved climate for investment.
The Australian union movement now well appreciates the
importance to our future growth prospects of progressively
higher productivity.
That awareness lies behind the current willingness of
organised labour to cooperate with management to reform work
and management practices, to restructure Australia's economy
to make it more outward looking and more internationally
competitive, and to cooperate more closely with potential
new foreign investors in Australia.
A complementary change in attitudes has taken place
regarding protectionisin.
Business groups in particular have come to recognise the
benefits to themselves and to Australia of an open trading
system. They acknowledge the role of reduced protectionism
in improving their ability to export and to meet competition
from imports.
one manifestation of this has been a general community
acceptance of the need to reduce gradually the protection
afforded to some of our least efficient industries in the
context of industry specific plans.
By the end of the current plan for the textile6, clothing
and footwear industries, for example, Australia will be the
only country in the developed world not relying on
quantitative restrictions on TCF imports.
Another manifestation has been the recent call by business
groups in Australia and New Zealand to go beyond the
existing framework of the Closer Economic Relations
agreement between our two countries.

Yet another manifestation is our role in the Cairns Group,
fighting for an end to the madness afflicting agricultural
trade, and our firm and clear offer to the contracting
parties of the GATT to reduce our border protection,
including non-tariff protection, in a multilateral context.
Australia in short has recognised that its future is one of
a trading nation which must diversify its export base.
We are no longer passively responding to developments
elsewhere. we have become a force for change in our region.'
Ladies and gentlemen
Let me close by drawing together the strands of the argument
I have put tonight.
First, change is a constant of our region and our
newspapers, textbooks and government reports are
littered with assessments which failed adequately to
understand the essential dynamics of change.
Second, we can nevertheless identify today some of the
facts of our regional life which will undoubtedly assume
greater importance to us all up to the early decades of
the next century. I have discussed the essential ones
this evening: the emergence and modernisation of China;
the current reforms in the Soviet Union; and the need
for sustained action by the major economies of the West
to solve their current account deficits and to resist
protectionism. Third, beneath this level of the major political and
economic powers all of us have a duty to undertake
appropriate domestic reform which will contribute not
only to our own efficiency but to increase trade among
US. Fourth, these economic reforms are encouraged and
advanced where they are accompanied by changes in social
attitudes and practices. This means in effect that
efforts to increase the material well being of the
community which is after all the desired end point of
such reforms will be enhanced where separate interest
groups in the community are prepared to abandon
traditional antagonisms and work together for thQ. mutual
benefit of all.
Fifth, it is the task of community and political leaders
to recognise ways in which the interests of the
community can best be advanced and it is their task as
well to ensure that all those who will be affected by a
decision appreciate and understand the reasons for it.

Sixth, and finally, any democracy whose institutions are
created for the purpose of public involvement in public
affairs should regard this task as possible and
certainly desirable. But it is an essential task for
all societies, whatever their political system, to win
the understanding and acceptance of the whole community
in the making of the necessary changes. Without that
involvement, the needed economic changes cannot be made.
For it is ultimately the people those in the
factories, on the farms, in the classrooms, in the
offices who will determine whether those economic
reforms succeed or fail.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I do not advance these thoughts with any pretence that they
provide comprehensive prescriptions to the broad field of
issues I have addressed this evening. I do believe however
that they are the kinds of general guidelines which are
relevant to the tasks of policy makers in our region
. including in Australia and Singapore.
When confronting change, many of us can readily and clearly
articulate the problems resulting from a change to the
status quo.
What I find most distressing is that there is a relative
poverty in the intellectual effort devoted to the task of
addressing the problems indeed the disasters which can
result from avoiding or ignoring change.
It is only by a preparedness to meet the challenge of change
head on that we can overcome that challenge rather than be
overcome by it.

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