PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 7739


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: 13/09/1989

Release Type: Press Conference

Transcript ID: 7739

rY& 9IIL4
PM: I apologise for keeping you waiting. A couple of
things that have just arisen. I just want to make a brief
statement against the background of the written statement
that you have.
The first thing I want to say is that the situation that
we're dealing with is one of a national emergency. The
pilots and their Federation have created an abnormal
situation and that requires the responses appropriate to
such an abnormal situation. In this dispute the Government
is absolutely determined to protect the national interest
and the economic welfare of all Australians and in those
circumstances we have had and continue to have no choice but
to oppose and oppose completely to the blackmail and the
destructive tactics of the Federation for however long it
takes. Cabinet yesterday took a further step in a process which
will guarantee the full restoration of domestic airline
services. Australian pilots must now decide whether that's
going to take place with them or witilput them. Obviously
the Government would clearly prefer that pilots should
rejoin the domestic airline system and that they should
negotiate contracts with the airlines. If they do that,
they then can in that way get reasonable increases in pay,
associated with significant-increases in productivity and
Australia can, in that way, retain their particular skills
and experience. That's what we would prefer. Let me make
it clear that if they continue to follow the wilful and
greedy and destructive line of the Federation then those
pilots should be under no illusion that Australia's domestic
airline industry will in any event be fully restored and in
those circumstances there will be no place in it for them.
I repeat that the Government has the total resources,
resolve and capacity to protect Australia's immediate and
long term interests in this dispute and we will do precisely
that. JOURNALIST: Prime minister, in the letter to James Strong
yesterday from the Air Pilots Federation, they said they
were willing to negotiate productivity and conditions and
other matters. Do you see that as at least a basis for
. talking-and negotiating and perhaps even bringing them back
to the รต uidelines?

PM: No, and for very clear reasons. Let me go through
them. Firstly, there is no indication whatsoever in
anything that's been said that the pilots, the Federation
are prepared to negotiate within the system. Nothing that
they've said indicates that they're prepared to negotiate
within the system. Second point is that the Federation has
now no nexus upon which to negotiate by. Their deliberate
decision, their members have resigned their employment. The
airlines have no employees who are members of the
Federation. The third point is that all those pilots who
have signed individual contracts with the two airlines have
specifically made the point that their resigning is
conditional upon the airlines having no dealings with the
Federation, which given the intimidatory tactics that have
been employed is not surprising on the part of those pilots.
And of course the final point I would make is that given the
action of the pilots to this point, what guarantee at all
could you have that if that were to be done that in some
months later the Federation wouldn't employ exactly the same
tactics again. For those all those reasons compellingly
lead to the conclusion I've put, yes.
JOURNALIST: How will last night's Cabinet decision
guarantee a full restoration, as you put it, of domestic
PM4: Very simply. You will have seen from the statement,
which I think you will agree is a pretty extensive
statement, that the airlines and the Government and may I
say in that sense particularly myself, have not been idle on
this. I've been interested to see that we should be taking
action to see that this matter is resolved. I've lost count
of the number of hours that have beerr involved in doing
precisely that. What has happened is that as of today
something like 20% of capacity has been restored, by the
beginning of next week, 25% will be restored and by the end
0 of this month, something like 50% and action is now underway
in the methods outlined in my statement to ensure that there
will be a full restoration of the domestic airline industry.
All the steps outlined in my statement which cover the
signing of pilots previously employed, and may I say just
today there has been another significant breakthrough in
that the first time some senior route captains 737
captains from the Federation have now signed contracts.
So there will be an acceleration of the signing of people
previously employed, so you've got that. You've got an
acceleration of the provision of services by the RAAF. You
have now an acceleration of the recruitment processes, not
only in Australia but overseas, by the opening of joint
offices by the two airlines in the United Kingdom and in the
United States. You will have an accelerated training
program so that more quickly you will have that critical
mass of pilots available who will be able to ensure that all
those who are signing up are able to be used. You will have
. the bringing into Australia of additional aircraft from
overseas and of additional pilots. Now all these things are
calculated to ensure what must be done and that is the
building up as soon as possible of the domestic airline

( PM4 cont) industry to full strength. May I take the
opportunity of hanging it on that question of making it
clear that we understand the costs that are involved in
having to take these courses of action and no-one needs to
be very imaginative to understand those costs. Let me say
in particular I am more conscious than most people of the
costs in the tourism industry. What must be understood,
what simply must be understood is this fact; that whatever
these costs are, they are transient and minimal compared to
the costs that this country would suffer if I was prepared
and the Government was prepared to and the airlines were
prepared to bow to the demands of the Federation because
you all know that if that were to happen then the whole
wages system would collapse and the economy would collapse
with it. So it is not a question you have achieved
nothing if you say, ' look at the costs, they are real,
present costs'. But they are, as I say, minimal as compared
with the absolutely uncontemplatible costs that would be
associated with bowing to these pressures.
JOURNALIST: inaudible
PM: will you just excuse me. I want to make this point
because I'll be making it later on at any rate so I may as
well make the point in this context. It is to me and I hope
to you somewhat fascinating to see in this context the
latest offering of the Leader of the Opposition in a totally
irrelevant press release from him today, there is included
this remarkable passage. ' The Government seems prepared to
go to any lengths to prop up a wages system which is in its
death throes'. I ask you to compare and I ask the
Australian people to compare that absurdity about a wages
system being in its death throes. Now with the assessment
made in today's Financial Review, I just read some of the
passages from that assessment. ' I would like to report that
the Hawke Government's wages accord is crumbling under the
9 weight of the pilot's dispute. It would make a good story
however, only mugs allocate their portfolios on the basis of
good stories'. And may I interpolate by way of parenthesis
and only mug Leaders of the opposition make such absurd
statements. And then there follows the analysis of the
achievements and current achievements of the accord and of
the wages system, which is what this dispute is about now,
an attack upon it on the one hand and our commitment to
protect it. So let me point out just what it is that we're
protecting. There's reference in the article to the
historic threshold that has now been reached in terms of a
massive restructuring of the Australian wages and industrial
relations system under the accord. The elimination of
hundreds of classifications, getting down to something like
core skilled classifications, the basis upon which not
only will there be a restructuring of the industrial system
but the elimination of a basis of demarcation disputes and
so on but the analysis properly goes further. It says this
properly; that under the wage accord the ACTU has
deliberately facilitated the biggest redistribution of

( PM cont) national income from wages to profits for at least
a generation. This fact seems to be conveniently forgotten
by those who are now squawking for an abandonment of any
centralised drain on aggregate labour costs. The accord has
underwritten the corporate profit boom which is in turn
funding the current surge in business investment. Now I've
gone onto those points, my friends, because that is what
this dispute is about. The Leader of the Opposition would
dearly love to believe his own nonsense that the accord and
the centralised wage fixing system is in its death throes.
He would like to believe that that is the case. Indeed the
pilot's dispute is centrally about destroying that system, a
system which is as properly recorded here in today's
financial Press has been responsible both for now reaching a
situation where Australia at long last is able to have a
totally restructured industrial relations system in which
the award structure will be relevant to a modern industrial
economy and will provide the basis for further improvement
and in the process it has also, by the restraint of all
Australian workers, allowed this massive shift of profits,
which shift has been necessary to enable this massive boom
in investment and under which one and a half million new
jobs have been created. Now that's what this dispute is
about and we are not going to allow a situation where a
small, greedy, powerful group of already privileged people
are going to smash that system. That is why I say this is a
national emergency and that is why, from the outset, I have
been utterly dedicated to ensuring that every resource of
Government will be directed to ensuring that those massive
gains for this country which have been achieved and which
further gains are in prospect, are not going to be
jeopardised. JOURNALIST: What areas Mr Hawke, of Government regulation
will be looked at by the officials u and will that include
any revision of the timetable for ending the two-airline
policy? PM: Taking the last part of the question first, there is no
question of revising that deadline, that comes into effect
next year as you know, and all planning is being undertaken
on that basis, there is no suggestion of changing that.
What is involved there is this point; properly, very
properly the CAA has ensured that as it deals with
applications by the airlines for accelerated access of
aircraft and of pilots, they should not in any way take any
action which would jeopardise the safety situation of the
airline industry in this country. They have been faced with
what is for them a totally new situation and there has been
some frustration on the part of both the airlines that
things could've been done quicker. Now to the great credit
of the CAA they have, as they've been handling these things
as they arise, they have been able to accelerate the
processes and that will be done. But I give the assurance
on the -basis of the conversations that I was able to have
yesterday with the acting head of the CAA, Mr Rainbird, that

( PM cont) nothing will be done at all in trying to
accelerate these processes under the regulations which will
in any way jeopardise the safety record of this country,
which is something of which we all should be properly proud.
JOURNALIST: You've just said that if need be Prime
Minister, the airlines can be rebuilt without the bulk of
the Pilots Federation members. Just how feasible is it for
you to be saying that? I mean is that in fact possible and
where do the pilots come from?
PM: Yes, it is possible. Let me say Paul, my very clear
expectation is that more and more of the previous employees
of the airlines will in fact rejoin. There is already a
significant number and as I say today there has been a very
significant breakthrough in regard to senior route captains.
I have no doubt that as the reality dawns upon members of
the Federation, they will join. So I'm not avoiding your
question but I'm simply making it clear to you that it is my
clear expectation that a very significant number of previous
employees will rejoin their previous employers under
individually negotiated contracts. Having said that, the
actions are in train to ensure that if you take the worse
possible case scenario that on the basis of those who have
already joined, that there will be an enrolment of people
from two sources. One, there have been many applications
from pilots within Australia who have previously flown for
minor airlines and who would seek to become employees of the
two major airlines. As part of that process there will be
an acceleration of training programs to ensure that their
skills can be upgraded so that they can be properly
certified to fly with the major airlines, so that's one
source. The second source of course if from overseas.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, can you explain this concept of a
critical mass of pilots and can you say how soon you expect
flights to be in the air with their normal crews?
PM: The critical mass point is simply that if, given the
structure of an aircraft operation, you have captains and
you have junior pilots, and you have to have a proper number
of senior pilots to ensure that you can maximise the use of
junior pilots and it's in that sense you're talking about
a critical mass you've got to have the proper mixture of
people available to ensure that you're able to maximise the
use of the total numbers that are available that's the
essence there. Now the second part of your question was
JOURNALIST: inaudible
PM: Well I really have nothing to add to what's in the
statement because I think that's a conservative expression
of what's involved. I repeat that as of today with the
aircraft of the major airlines now in the air that brings us
. to what-I'm assured is 20% of capacity with the two America
West aitcraft, which will come into operation at the

( PM cont) beginning of next week, that will take it up to
and as the statement says on the basis of the processes
that are underway now and to which I have alluded, we should
be boooking at 50% by the end of the month. I tend to
believe that in fact you will get an acceleration of the
process because I believe and I certainly hope that
members of the Federation are going to change their
position. In that sense, let me say not only to you Amanda,
but I think it's relevant to all your consideration, that I
think increasingly the members of the Federation are going
to be asking themselves and they certainly should be
asking themselves the very serious question about what
this Federation has cost their members. And I just ask you
to consider the list of things which the action of their
leadership has cost their members. Firstly and obviously
it's cost them their jobs because following the instruction
of the leadership their members have resigned. So they have
lost their jobs. Secondly and very importantly for them,
they have lost their seniority in the operations of any
airline system. The seniority of a pilot is very
significant in terms of the conditions and the remuneration
that they enjoy. So they have lost their jobs, they have
lost their seniority. Thirdly, what they should
increasingly have been considering is this; that they have
lost any opportunity or right to redundancy payments. In a
situation where the airlines, under what is happening now,
will at the end of the process employ a significantly lesser
number of pilots than they did at the beginning of the
dispute. By their action the Federation, in getting their
members to resign, have created a situation where previously
in employment and with productivity negotiations, these
pilots would've had an opportunity or a right for redundancy
payments, that's gone because they are no longer in
employment as a result of the Federatfion. So those three
things they have lost, their jobs, their seniority and their
rights to redundancy payments. Of course, finally, what
they could've obtained if they had done what all other
wage and salary earners have been prepared to do that is
to operate within the system, they would've got a 6% plus
wages increase on the basis of a very low number of hours
flown per week. That has gone under the contracts that have
been negotiated. Yes, they will get a 6% increase but it
will be on the basis of a significantly greater number of
hours flown. Hence the significant productivity increases.
Hence the need for a significantly lesser number of pilots.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, because there's a degree of
confusion about it, I wonder if you could just spell out
what principles the Cabinet applied yesterday on this
question of compensation?
PM: Yes, sure. I appreciate that question very much
because I think there has been a degree of misunderstanding
about that, and I don't blame people for it. Let me make
. the position quite clear. I preface it by making the point
I did art the opening. That is that we are dealing with an

( PM cont) emergency abnormal situation and in that
emergency abnormal situation it not only requires but
demands responses which are appropriate to that emergency
abnormal situation. Now what are the facts? The facts are
these; the dispute which is threatening the whole wages
system and the economic welfare and the future of this
country is in the airline industry. That's where the
dispute is. In that reality the fact is that all of the
other unions in the airline industry have assiduously and
completely adhered to the principles of the wages system as
is reflected in the article that I've read from and quoted
from in today's financial Press. As a result of the
restraint which has been exercised by those people,
including those all of the employees other than the pilots
in the airline industry there has been massive restraint
in wages the other side of that coin of course by
definition is that there has been a significant shift of
profits and that significant shift of profits has allowed a
rate of employment generation in this country which as you
know is five times faster than under the previous
government, more than twice as fast as the rest of the
world, and is currently associated with an historically high
level of investment. As a percentage of GDP investment is
now 13.5%, the highest on record in our history. Now these
people have been part of that process. They have seen, by
their restraint, a shift from wages to profits which has
brought the benefit from increased employment and a surge in
investment. They are saying in their industry that they are
not going to put up with a situation where a small group of
fellow employees in that industry can wreak upon them a
disadvantage by stand-down, now those are the realities
which are understood and accepted. So in that situation the
airlines, as distinct from the tourist industry which is the
one which is consistently quoted, the airlines are suffering
an additional cost. That is that whereas the tourism
industry can and is standing down employees who can no
longer be gainfully employed, that is not a course which is
open to the airline industry. So the Government has
decided, properly, that in those circumstances by a waiver
of charges they will financially assist in a way which meets
the equivalent of that specific cost unique to the airline
industry. There is not a cent, not a single cent of
Government money which will be going to the airline industry
to compensate them for the sorts of losses that the tourism
industry is suffering.

JOURNALIST: Following up question, firstly, why did
you decide the use the waiver method rather than a pay out
method? Secondly, will this apply retrospectively or from
today to the accumulated costs of avoiding stand downs?
PM.: Well, there are two points to be made about that. when
the airlines raised this matter with us first and, as you
know, I'm on record in the Parliament as having disclosed
it was raised early, they indicated that they weren't
putting this request to us in terms of the first week, they
are beyond that first week. We believe that that's
reasonable. The second point to make is this, that as a
result of the understandings that have been reached between
the airline industry and the ACTU, that many of the workers
in the industry, indeed, I believe, a majority will, up
until the 28th September, be taking leave in one form or
another to which they are entitled or to which they are
becoming entitled. So I think you can see that in terms of
what the final amount will be, that I don't think it's going
to be of the three figures type that some people have been
anticipating. JOURNALIST: How much a week is it?
PM: Well, by definition, one can't I mean, in terms of
pay out the total amount and therefore how long it will go
on will depend upon how long the dispute goes, by
definition. The amount and as to what the amount they are
losing, that is a matter of negotiation and, well,
negotiation analysis currently between the airlines and
ourselves. I mean, we're not taking the position where the
airline says ' here's the figure' andwYe sign on the line.
JOURNALIST: Is there some estimate?'
PM: No. This is a negotiation, a discussion that's going
on now. But
JOURNALIST: Is it an open-ended cheque?
PM: No it's not an open-ended cheque in this sense, that
there will be the discussions between the Government and the
airlines. As to what the amount is, you can't say what that
is now, for two reasons. That discussion has to go on and,
secondly, as to the final aggregate amount, it obviously, by
definition, depends upon how long the dispute goes on.
JOURNALIST: But surely you have some rough estimate per
week, based on their wages bill from which you deduct people
who are on holidays?
PM: Yes. But what I'm saying is, if you'd listened to what
I've said before, that what that amount is per week will be
. a function in part of how many people now are in fact taking

leave and that is not determined, that's part of what has to
be analysed. So you can't, at this time, say precisely what
the amount will be. I'm not trying, in any sense, to avoid
the fact but these sums can be reasonably considerable.
We've not avoided that fact.
JOURNALIST: What is their wages bill per week?
PM: I don't know what their wages bill is, but if you got
to a situation where there was no leave offset, the sorts of
figures that could be involved of the order of about $ 7
million a week, $ 6 to $ 7 million a week for each airline.
But that's in a situation where there is no offset in regard
to people taking leave. So, Paul, just going back to your
question, why I can't give you an answer at this stage is
that I don't know, we don't know yet what the impact of the
leave taking is and we don't know how long the dispute is
going on. But, in regard to that question, which is, is it
open-ended. The only way in which you can say, and it is
open-ended in this sense, for as long as the dispute
continues and there is this unique disadvantage, the
airlines, which is the basis upon which this is taken into
account, then the concept of financial assistance for that
fact which is unique to the airlines will operate.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, given that this dispute is dragging
on and looks set to drag on for some time yet, might you at
any stage consider some sort of help for the tourism
industry in a similar way to how you've dealt with the
airlines? PM: Surely I've made it clear that there is no analogy
between JOURNALIST: So it's out of the question totally?
PM: Let me finish, I haven't finished my answer. There is
no direct analogy between the airlines and the tourism
industry. The dispute is in the airline industry and the
airline operators have not available to them, for the
reasons that you understand, they have not available to them
the possibility of stand downs. Quite apart from that,
there is also, as the statement makes quite clear, the need
to ensure if you are going to be keeping any sort of service
going on and building it up, that you have a situation where
those who are required to service that are there. So the
dispute is in the airline industry and they do not have, for
the reasons that I've put, the opportunity of stand down
which the tourism industry has. So there is no analogy
there. Having said that, I'm conscious, very, very
conscious indeed of the fact that under this Government
tourism has been the spectacular growth industry. Let
everyone, including those in the tourism industry, know that
their prosperity has been very much a function of the
success-of this Government's economic policies and which

success is foundationally based upon the wages system. So
the tourism industry, as well as every other industry, has a
vested interest in ensuring the continuing success of that
system which, as I say, has been spelt out in today's
Financial Review. The best interests, the best interests of
the tourism industry and of the rest of the Australian
economy, is that that system is maintained. Of course, in
the present circumstances, the best interests of the tourism
industry are in having at least some services and there are
some services and they'll gradually be built up. But could
I make one final point in regard to your question? I have
agreed to meet a deputation from the tourist industry and I
think I'll be meeting them tomorrow. I certainly want to
hear from them and it is conceivable, and I can make no
commitment about this, but it is conceivable that looking at
the future after this dispute, there may be ways in which we
can be of some assistance to the tourism industry in
campaigns to explain the situation and to try and get the
tourist industry back on to its growth path as quickly as
possible. JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, your Government puts considerable
emphasis on fairness, do you see any inherent unfairness in
the fact that, say a cleaner from the airline industry has
protection from being stood down, while a cleaner in the
tourism industry loses his wage?
PM: Well, I can understand from what you've written already
that you have difficulty in beginning to understand the
essence of this dispute, but let me, let me say this that
if you can't understand that the welfare of the cleaner in
every industry, the welfare of the cleaner's children, the
welfare of the cleaner's parents, pensioners, if you don't
understand that all their welfare depends foundationally
* upon the success of the wages system and its continuation
then I'm sorry if you don't understand that. You've got to
look at alternatives. We have a situation, which I don't
think's very difficult to comprehend, have a situation where
there is an attempt to smash this system. If there were
negotiation with, or if there had been accession to the
demands of the pilots outside this wages system, then the
wages system is destroyed. If the wages system is
destroyed, then inflation becomes rampant. You would have a
wages breakout which, as the statement says, would be beyond
that of 1982. So to get some perception, if you don't want
to get your mental processes fully going along it by using
your imagination, have resort to history. What was the
history in 19827 Precisely in 1982 you had a wages
breakout. The centralised system was given away and you had
the whole thing flowing outside the system. What happened
then? You had the worst recession in Australia's history.
You had 11 percent unemployment, you had double digit
inflation, you had the worst recession in 50 years. The
. cleaner, whether they were in the airline industry, the

tourist industry or wherever, suffered. There weren't jobs
for them. That is what is an issue. What has to be done at
this time is to take the steps which I have said are
abnormal. You have to take the steps in an abnormal
situation, created by the pilots, you have to take the steps
which are going to save the wages system which has produced
all these benefits, benefits for everyone, cleaners wherever
they are, in whatever job you have. The whole of Australia
has been the obvious and massive beneficiary, as is spelt
our here today, the obvious and massive beneficiary from
this system. Its continued existence is an issue. There is
only one way in which that system can be maintained and that
is to ensure that this claim is not successful. That's the
answer to your question.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the attendants, are they
covered by this
PM: I beg your pardon?
JOURNALIST: The attendants who have been stood down
PM: Well, the attendants have negotiated a situation
yesterday within the Commission in which their union and the
ACTU as well as the Commission have been involved and they
have chosen a particular course of action, which you will
appreciate, which says well, they have this stand down
situation, they seem to believe that for many of their
members that they're able to get more money in a temporary
way rather than just staying on and being on their base
salary as they would be, if they were kept on, that they can
do better by going out and getting other employment. So the
situation there will be that for, the'principle will be the
same. If for those who are in fact still remaining in
employment and who may not be able to be employed but who
haven't been stood down, the principle would apply. But
they seem to have chosen to take a course of action which
they regard as unique to their circumstances and I've
noticed, although I've had no communication with or from the
ACTU, I've noticed on the media that a spokesman for the
ACTU has said that the agreement which they have with the
airlines generally, which is the basis of what we're talking
about, is not affected by that arrangement.
JOURNALIST: Will the future benefits to the airlines of
operating fewer pilots and increased presumably be
accounted for in this compensation payment?
PM: No, because, I'd hoped you'd understood before that, in
this package that we have agreed to as a Cabinet, we are not
making compensation for anything other than this factor of
costs that they incur in not being able to stand down their
employees. They are incurring, as the statement, I recall
says, losses of around $ 20 million a week not taking that
into account. Obviously when the airlines of this country

resume normal operations then they will attract benefits
from the significant increases in productivity. Let me make
this point though in addition, that it would be our
expectation that when the airline industry has utilised that
productivity improvement after resumption to recoup
themselves for their other losses, which are very
significant. But once that's been done it would be our
expectation that those continuing improvements would be
shared with the air travelling public of this country.
JOURNALIST: Will you seek to recompense, or get the money
back for the taxpayers?
PM: Beg your pardon?
JOURNALIST: Will you seek to get the money back for the
taxpayers. You know, half this money is going to a large
private company which last year had spectacular profits and
it's owned by two private companies which also have record
profits. After the dispute's finished you conceded the
profitability will be even higher. Why shouldn't the
taxpayer ask for the money back?
PM: Not a question of getting taxpayers' money back. What
we're about here is a situation, as I've explained at some
length before in answer to at least two previous questions,
is to protect the whole Australian economy. It is an
appropriate use of Government financial capacity, taxpayers'
money, if you want to call it that, to protect the
Australian economy. There can't be any argument
JOURNALIST: ( inaudible)
PM: Well, just a minute. I heard your question. I'm not
in an argument, let me finish my answer to you. There can't
be any argument from any reasonable person that what is
being done is in the interests of the Australian economy as
a whole. That is that we are going to protect the wages
system and one which has produced all the benefits to which
I have alluded. Everyone is the beneficiary of that, not
just the two airlines involved or particularly the private
airline involved. Everyone is the beneficiary. I repeat
that it's our expectation that the benefit, the ongoing
benefit which that company, together with Australian, gets
from the outcome of this dispute in terms of productivity
increases, it's our expectation that they will share that in
terms of their fare structure. That's our expectation. In
other words, they are not as a result of this decision
getting, as I repeat, they're not getting one cent of
taxpayers' money. Not one cent of taxpayers' money for the
position which they share with the tourism industry and, you
know, please get that in your head. They are unique in that
they can't stand people down. That's what they're getting
financial assistance for. In terms of the losses which they

are suffering, apart from that the same sort of losses that
are being suffered by the tourism industry, the airlines are
not getting one cent of compensation. Now, I repeat, what
our expectation is that when they do resume normal
operations, that they will use the productivity benefits to
recoup those losses which they've suffered and we will
expect that after that the productivity improvements will be
shared with the Australian public.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, my earlier question got a bit
lost, or part of it. Why did you choose the waiver route
rather than the pay out route? What are the advantages of
doing it?
PM: Well we do have available, uniquely, with the airlines
S this system whereby a significant cost to the airlines are
the charges that are imposed upon them by our
instrumentalities, the CAA and the FAC. It's an appropriate
way which, if you like, serves to make the point that I
made, that I've made throughout this conference, about what
is being done uniquely in regard to the circumstance of the
airline industry, that we use what is uniquely available
there. It should be, I think, there more readily understood
the uniqueness of the situation. If you were making a
payment to the airlines, it may more easily be seen or
misrepesented as a compensation for overall losses. I hope
that all of you understand that there is no distinction
being made between the airlines and the tourist industry in
terms of losses suffered.
JOURNALIST: Is it not the case of the uniqueness of the
position of the airlines is that the threat of industrial
action by the airline unions and, therefore, is that a
reasonable basis for the Government to be paying
compensation to the airlines?
PM: It's not simply the basis. It is the fact, as I spelt
out at the beginning of this conference if that the
dispute is in the airlines industry, it's not in the tourism
industry, it's in the airline industry. You have a
situation there where the other employees, yes, I've said
I mean, that's not the first time it's been said, I mean, I
said at the beginning of this conference and I've said it
right through that the other unions representing all other
employees in the airline industry have said, if they are
going to have imposed upon them and their industry a
significant penalty because a small group of their fellow
employees are going to take this action and if there's a
concession on that, then they would take the view it's
alright for those other employees then they would take
action. Now that is unique to the airline industry. That's
where the problem is and we are not going to allow something
to happen which is going to smash the wages system. There
is no doubt, quite clear, if these other unions in the

airline industry said ' well, we are being hit because of the
action of other employees in this industry where we have
consistently exercised restraint, we would then take action
which would lead to the smashing of the system' and that is
the position that has to be dealt with. That is the
position with which we're
JOURNALIST: But given the fact that you feel the subsidy is
necessary to the airlines in this national emergency, why
not require when the situation returns to normal, that they
should repay the subsidy consolidated revenue?
PM4: There's no, you've got the position where that is a
loss which is unique. It's not something that they recover,
that's something which is unique to them. It's not a
situation which anyone else has got. This is no attempt, I
repeat, this is no attempt and we wouldn't contemplate
compensating the airlines for their general losses, the
losses which have the common features with the tourism
industry or anyone else that's suffered. This is a loss
that they've suffered which is not recoverable. That is
something that is dealt with. It's discreet, it's unique
and it will be dealt with. I repeat, we are not going to be
compensating them for general losses and we expect, as I
say, that the benefits that they will ultimately get out of
these arrangements will be shared, We will do what we can
to ensure that that's the case.
JOURNALIST: On a different note, I'm just wondering, what's
your reaction to comments in the US, that Australia's going
to cave in on its opposition to mining in the Antarctic?
PM: Well, let me say they don't knoi what they're talking
about, which is not surprising. Just-let me say on that
point that it's reported that one Mr Scully, I think is his
name, has deigned to know what the mind of my Government is
on this issue. Well I've got news for Mr Scully. He's
wrong and I will be contacting Senator Al Gore, the Chairman
of the relevant committee to whom this statement was made,
to assure him that Mr Scully has got it wrong.

Transcript 7739