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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 7611


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: 23/05/1989

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 7611

-rS9 IV
SBS, 23 MAY 1989
0 oMnU RPtHhYe: TonPirgihmte mSihnowi. ster thanks very much indeed for coming
PM: My pleasure. Could I just correct that introduction?
I did not clash with my Foreign Minister.
MURPHY: OK, I'll get to that in a second and to other
foreign policy matters. If I can just put in a domestic
question first.
PM: Sure.
MURPHY: Apparently in Question Time in the Senate this
afternoon Senator John Button said in reply to a question
put by Richard Alston that all arms of economic policy were
under review and an appropriate announcement will be made
shortly. Can you tell me what arms are under review and
why? PM: Well, rather it's correct to say that we are always
looking at the way in which all the arms of policy are
operating. We are constantly doing that and seeing that
they are appropriately tuned.
MURPHY: So this is fiscal and monetary policy?
PM: And wages.
MURPHY: And wages.
PM: Always under review.
MURPHY: So nothing out of the ordinary about the statement?
PM: Nothing out of the ordinary.
MURPHY: Just before I go to foreign policy, the dollar's
not been doing too well recently. Are you concerned about

PM: Well, let's get it clear that basically the decline of
the Australian dollar has been against the United States
dollar which has surged against all currencies. There has
been a drop, but only relatively, a marginal drop against
the other major currencies the pound sterling, deutschmark
and the yen.
MURPHY: Yes, not doing too badly against the yen today, but
you're not worried about that at all?
PM: No, well once you've floated the dollar, then the
market sets the rate. That's what a floating dollar is
about. MURPHY: OK Prime Minister, if we can go to foreign policy,
but even before that, you are putting a motion up on
multiculturalism and immigration.
PM: No, wrong again. Not a motion about multiculturalism,
Paul, and deliberately not because the one thing that we
want absolutely to do in terms of Australia's and the
region's interest is to get an unequivocal declaration of a
return to bipartisanship on our immigration policy. That is
in terms of there being no discrimination on the basis of
race. We've deliberately excluded reference to
multiculturalism, not because we're not totally committed to
it, but we didn't want to introduce that element into the
motion because perhaps the opposition needs a bit more time
to sort out its position on that. But the Leader of the
opposition made a, from my point of view, a totally welcome
statement about a return to bipartisanship in immigration
policy. MURPHY: Indeed he did, so I'm wondering why you're putting
him to the test on the floor of the House. Do you to
deliver? PM: No, and I want to make it quite clear to your viewers
and I hope that the Leader of the opposition understands
that there's not an attempt to get any political advantage,
but rather the position that I know directly from my visit
earlier this year to the region and what we've had conveyed
to us is that there's a very deep concern in the region,
Paul, about what they perceive as the departure from
bipartisanship. It's very much, in all our interests, the
Opposition, the Government, the people of Australia, that it
-be clear that we are back-on-the bipartisan track on
MURPHY: So, it's really a signal to the region and to those
people, those countries who may have been worried about how
things have been going over the past twelve months?
PM: A signal to the region and, may I say, to Australia as

MURPHY: with people like Ian Macphee and Philip Ruddock on
the Shadow frontbench, multiculturalism shouldn't be too
hard a concept for the Opposition to come to terms with now
should it?
PM: It shouldn't be, particularly when you consider that
not so long ago in the old Parliament House there was a
unanimous vote of the Parliament on this question. It is
something for which the Liberal Party historically is
entitled to take a great deal of credit for its
introduction. So it shouldn't be a difficult problem. I
hope it won't be.
MURPHY: OK Prime Minister, well let's turn to the Middle
East and let's hope that we get our facts right in this. I
think I'm right in saying that in the Parliament some weeks
ago you did reprimand Dr Wilenski, our Ambassador to the UN,
for a speech that he did give on the situation in the
occupied territories and you said that it lacked balance.
Now can you explain why you did come to that conclusion?
PM: Yes basically, because while the statement by Dr
wilenski did deplore violence on all sides, in my judgement
it was somewhat unbalanced in that it didn't put the
difficulties of Israel into an historical context. I mean
we recognise that they have difficulties that they've
historically been confronted with, but having said that
and I think that ought to have been said there was simply
no question but that the vote was right and there should
have been the vote in the way it was where there was 129
countries voting, there was only the two, United States and
Israel voting against and one abstention, Liberia. So the
vote was right. of course one of the the problems is that
when you do an explanation of vote it is necessarily very
brief. It doesn't enable any government to give a detailed
full exposition of its foreign policy position. But I still
made the point that I thought in that respect, it was
somewhat unbalanced.
MUPEHY: Alright, so it didn't signal your statement. Any
change in our policy towards a solution of the Palestinian
problem? PM: None at all. There was no change of policy and indeed
we'd voted on a similar resolution UNGA 42 in 1987 and in
1988, so there was no change of policy. The position that
ehave in regard to-. Middle East in general is quite
clear. It is based upon a recognition of the right of
Israel to exist and to be viable and secure, also as
consistently involve the recognition of the rights of the
Palestinian people.
MURPHY: Yes indeed, and of course now the PLO has said that
Israel has the right to exist. In fact I think I'm right in
saying that in 1981 you said that once the PLO did that,
then there should be efforts made to get Israel and the PLO
to the negotiating table?

PM: Yes, my position has been consistent over a long period
of time. Indeed I'm entitled I think to say that I was the
person in the international arena who first laid down, if I
may put it that way, the three conditions which I believe
were necessary for movement. On the part of the PLO, that
required an acceptance of 242 and 338 resolutions of the
United Nations, secondly, the right of-Israel to exist and
thirdly the renunciation of terrorism. Now I put those
positions within the United States, I put them in the Soviet
Union and I put them in the Middle East. Essentially I
think they've come to accept it as the reasonable conditions
and in fact, at least in form, the PLO has met those
conditions. I accept the fact that in respect of some
spokesmen for the PLO you could say there's been some
equivocation about certain elements of that, but it would be
churlish on the part of anyone, I believe, not to recognise
there has been a significant move towards the acceptance of
those three conditions by the PLO. In those circumstances I
have said consistently, I believe there's an obligation upon
Israel itself to respond positively and to go towards the
processes of dialogue, fully understanding that they in
Israel are entitled to watch cautiously and to see a
reflection in deeds to those words of acceptance. But I do
believe that it would be unreal for anyone, Israel included,
not to accept two things. One, that there has been a
significant change in statements by the PLO and secondly, in
a sense, also equally importantly, Paul, that there is a
change in the international environment by which I mean
that in terms of the two superpowers we are now living in a
world where, as a result of the dialogue and a constructive
dialogue that is going on between the two superpowers, we
are seeing in regional areas the reduction of conflicts.
vide Namibia, vide Afghanistan, vide Indo-China. So I think
Israel and the-parties in the Mi[ le East have to understand
that there is now an attitude in the world which is
requiring of participants to local conflict a preparedness
to move more than they have in the past towards the
resolution of those regional conflicts.
MURPHY: Indeed Prime Minister there's confusion at the
moment about the Israelis wanting to offer some form of
elections in the occupied territories. The PLO don't appear
to be interested, although who knows what will happen.
You've taken a keen interest in this area as you've just
said for many years, and you're one of the world's longest
serving leaders. Would you feel tempted to offer your
services at all in a.,, olution of this continuing problem?
PM: Well not to offer. But what I've said and may in
response to feelers and suggestions that have been made to
me from a number of quarters from within Israel, from
within some of the Arab states who have recognised my long
standing interest and, may I say, knowledge of the subject
that they've said perhaps I could do something. My position
is quite clear.

MURPHY: Recent feelers Prime Minister?
PM: Well there have been some suggestions. I mean I don't
want to go to them and I don't want to have a great story
developed out of that. There have been some suggestions.
My position has been consistent Paul, and it is this. That
I don't attempt to push myself or Australia in this issue.
It is simply this to say, ' yes I do have a long involvement
and interest and I think an acceptance by both sides of
integrity in this issue. I do have a pretty profound
knowledge I think of the issues'. My Government and, may I
say, not only my Government but I think I can speak on
behalf of the Opposition on this matter that there is a
bipartisan commitment to a resolution of the an honourable
resolution in this region. I simply say that if it were the
wish of the parties involved for us to play some more
particular part then we would be prepared to do it.
MURPHY: And you personally would be available if approached
by the parties or the UN or the superpowers?
PM: Yes if they thought I could help, of course one would
be available.
MURPHY: All right. If I can move on to the situation in
China. I know you spoke in the House this afternoon about
this. How are you reading it now? Do you think that
Government is paralysed? Is there a secret power struggle?
You knew Hu Yaobang very well of course his death sparked
off the student demonstrations. Do you think that there's a
power struggle going on now at the moment?
PM: I did know all the leaders and I don't think it is a
very profound observation to say that there is some form of
power stuggle. There are obviously differences of approach
amongst the leadership as to what is the most appropriate
way of dealing with this matter. But let me say this. I
think that the authorities in China are to be congratulated
on the fact that certainly to this point there has been an
eschewal of violence to try and put down the protest and the
expression of view that is now coming through not only
from the students but from a wide variety of interests in
China. It is my strong view and the view of my Government,
again I think I can speak for the Opposition, the view of
the Parliament and the people of Australia that we would
hope and expect that ~ e~ beautho-rities in China would not
resort to violence to put down these obvious widespread and
deeply felt expressions of concern in China and to the
extent that there are differences of emphasis. You may want
to use the word crisis in leadership. It is uncertain and
we are constantly in touch with what's happening. One can't
be absolutely precise Paul, about whether you would describe
it as a total crisis. But there does seem to be a division
of opinion.

MURPHY: It's not looking too good for reform at the moment
and what these youngsters these dedicated youngsters are
after? PM: I think there will be inevitably be further reform.
What we're witnessing Paul, both within China and the Soviet
Union, is the invarying degrees and understanding that
historical and outdated ideologies which have as their
central thesis the concept of command control of the
economy, command control of the policy, that those
historical ideologies are not relevant to the modern
realities of the end of the 20th century. These were
philosophies that emerged at the beginning of this century.
They are not appropriate to the realities of the end of this
century. Now it is inevitable therefore and I think both in
the Soviet Union and in China that there would be moves
which we welcome towards a society in which there will be
greater rights of political involvement and expression for
the ordinary people. We've seen that. We're seeing that
emerging very much in the Soviet Union. I think it's
inevitable that it will happen in China as well.
MURPHY: All right Prime Minister. I can't let you go
without a final brief question domestically if you don't
mind? A Newspoll poll this morning showed the Party that Mr
Peacock now leads is not doing too badly in fact quite
well viz a viz your Government and apparently Andrew
Peacock did quite well in the House this afternoon. Do you
think you'll have to be on your mettle now that Mr Peacock
leads the Liberals?
PM: No. He's no greater threat than Mr Howard. Just about
that poll. There is no-one in politics who believes the
switch from 49 to 41. But if you want to look at the poll I
mean look at the satisfaction rating of Mr Peacock 22 no
where not a half of mine. Now I'm not complacent about
that. The poll was a pretty meaningless one. We are
content that we're going on with the business of Government,
they are going on with the business of self destruction.
MURPHY: But is Andrew Peacock a more substantial figure
PM: No, no. Mr Howard is a much more substantial figure
and all the people who voted for Mr Peacock recognise the
fact. They didn't vote for substance, they voted for style.
MURPHY: OK Prime Mint'ñ er. -Many thanks indeed for talking
PM: It's a pleasure to be with you Paul, thank you.

Transcript 7611