PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 7749


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: 21/09/1989

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 7749

21 SEPTEMB3ER 1989
MARNER: Well your itinerary includes such places as The Whyalla
Workers' Club, the BHP Long Products Division and so forth. Many
people would Bay that that's really the hub of ALP support in
regional Sth Australia and yet many of your critics would argue
they're the very people that have been alienated from the govt
through your tough economic policies. Do you agree?
P14; No I don't know where many of the critics are that
you're talking about. -I think it's an historical exercise as far
as the govt is concerned. We are receiving the clear endorsement
of these people for two basic reasons. one, we have ensured the
creation of an enormous amount of jobs more than one and half
million jobs since we've been in office through our policies
which is twice* as fast as the rest of the world and five times
faster than existed before we came to office and that's what they
want, security of employm~ ent and also we're ensuring that there
is a very equitable creation of social services to families,
increasing the education opportunities for their children these
are the sort of things which a Labor Govt has traditionally been
committed to do but wbich in the past hasn't been able to do as
effectively as we are.
MARNER: You don't see those six and half years as P14 has in any
way distanced you from the ordinary Australian.
PM: Well I suggest you ought to walk around with me as I go
round these centres and you wouldn't ask that question. I still
have the same rapport with the ordinary people of Australia as
I've always had and that's because I've been with and of them for
now almost 30 years in public life. So if you have any...
about that I suggest next time I'm going around you might come
with me.
MARNER: Well I might take you up on that. There are elements
within the unions that have expressed concern about your handling
of the airlires dispute.
PMt . you may I say with respect are very selective in
what you Why don't you refer to the facts. The Secretary
of ACTU Mr Kelty and the incoming President of the ACTU

PM ( cont) : Mr Ferguson again last night have expressed total
endorsement and support of what the is doing. When of
course you have a movement as large as the Australian Trade Union
Movement you'll get some people who want to express a different
point of view. But the President and the Secretary representing
the Trade Union Movement have fully endorsed our handling as you
would expect they would because it's not a very difficult thing
to understand. What we are about in rejecting the claims for the
pilots is to say that the whole of the Trade Union Movement has
exercised restraint under the Accord which has created one and
half million new jobs because people with power have not used it.
People who could have gone out and grabbed more wages haven't
done it. They've exercised restraint. And we're protecting that
situation and protecting Australia. When you have 1600 people
who have the power to say to the rest of the community go to
hell, we'll have 30% which increases are equal to what the rest
of you are getting in the whole of the year of course the Trade
Union Movement as a whole is going to say ' good on you, you
support the restraint system which we'ye practiced ourselves'.
It's not surprising.
MARNER: Dick Halt, past President of the Aust Fed of Air Pilots
in his full page ad in many of our papers today has said ' it's an
attack on the most important principle in Australian industrial
relations# ' your right', he's addressing this to the pilots,
' your right of freedom of association, your freedom to negotiate
with your own employer', how do you feel about those criticisms?
PM: fully what Capt Halt's saying. He has followed a
principle which he dearly wants to protect. When he was head of
the pilots, they followed exactly this principle they said, we
don't give a damn about the rest of the community, if we want x%
increase, x improvement in conditions, we will go and hold a gun
at the airlines' head. That was the principle which Halt and his
colleagues followed and the only question that was in issue when
the Fed in the past followed this " principle", as they held the
gun at the airlines' head, was which would fall over first,
Ansett or Australian. That was their principle. Hold the gun at
the heads, say this is what we want, and they always got it.
That of course is a precious principle f or pilots lovely
principle. Have some power, exercise it, knock the boss over,
ruin the system in the process. It was the principle followed by
the pilots which produced the situation of an average $ 80,00
salary per year for 8 hours flying at the stick a beautiful
principle. I'm not surprised that they think it's the best
principle in the world a cherished principle that they should
adhere to. The only problem is, they're not going to be able to
because the principle that's been followed by the rest of the
Australian workforce is saying no, we won't use our naked power,
we'll exercise restraint, and in doing that..... create a more
competitive Australian economy. So the pilots Fed can talk about
their precious principle of the gun at the head, but they've got
to understand that that precious principle is gone.

HARI4ER: But the principle of freedom to negotiate with your own
employer, is that something you support?
PM: We support the system under which of course unions
within the wage guidelines of the centralised wage system are
doing now. What is happening now, right around this country
under the metal trades award, and elsewhere, there are
negotiations going on between unions and employers to give effect
to these principles. Of course we accept that. We do not accept
the so called principle, I mean it is straight out blackmail,
spelt " principle" according to the pilots, whereby their concept
is no, all those concepts go out the window where your own
perception of interest has to be measured against the national
interest. That goes out, and their negotiation simply was to say
to the airlines, 30% increase that's it, no adherence to the
Industrial Relations Commission's guidelines, what everyone else
is doing, there's our negotiation, 30% and planned from February
might I tell you, planned from February in their own documents, a
commitment to close down the industry entirely. Now don't let's
go on, I mean I can't really understand how someone at this stage
like yourself, can be talking about their principles, and their
willingness to negotiate when from February, their stated
intention was to take everyone on in the community, shut the
industry down. So don't talk about their principles.
MARNER: Mr Hawke how do you f eel about Mr Peacock? He's also
had a full page ad in many of our papers today, with the
headlines " Mr Hawke for Australia's sake, sit down and talk' and
I'll just quote you a piece from it ' To win a point you' he
says, ' seem determined to sacrifice the tourist industry, small
business, the economy and the nation, all to prop up an outdated
wages system which is holding Australia back'. Is the Accord
outdated? PM: No. And it's very interesting. The other day when Mr
Peacock was saying the same thing the very, very, same day in
which he was saying this, that the wages system had broken down
and was outdated, in the Australian Fin Review you had the Fin
Review itself making quite clear the very opposite because they
spelt out the achievements of the Accord and there what the Fin
Review was saying on the same day as Mr Peacock was saying the
wage system was gone, they were spelling out the achievements of
the Accord. Just let me read you from the same day's Fin Review.
It said, this is 14r Stutchbury in Fin Review, 11 would like to
report that the Hawke govt's Wages Accord is crumbling under the
weight of the pilots' dispute, it would make a good story.
However, only mugs allocate their portfolios on the basis of good
stories'. And he then went on to talk about the massive
restructuring, the bringing up to date of conditions in
industry, and then he says this " the Accord has kept the lid on
wage inflation during what has been Australia's biggest economic
boom since at least the early 709. Under the Wages Accord the
ACTU has deliberately facilitated the biggest redistribution of
national income from wages to profits for at least a generation.

PM ( cont) This fact seems to be conveniently forgotten by those
who are now squawking for an abandonment of any centralised rein
on aggregate labor costs." And they conclude, * the Accord has
underwritten the corporate profit boom which in turn is funding
the current surge in business investments". So at the very same
time that this discredited Liberal leader is saying that the
wages system is holding Australia back, the independent financial
authority in this country, newspaper, is pointing out precisely
what has been achieved. It's this wages system which has brought
about the move to profits in a way which has allowed investment
to reach the highest level in the history of this country and
which is sustaining the growth of Australia. But of course Mr
Peacock who doesn't A, understand anything about economics, and
B, of course is discredited within his own party, the moves are
already starting to get rid of him. Now there you have a
situation where in his desperation he's just setting his face
against the recognised facts.
MARNERt Is the Accord in any real danger?
PM: The Accord was in danger from the beginning of the
pilots' dispute if the pilots had been allowed to get away with
Just holding the gun at the head of Australia. And that was why
from day one, I said, on behalf of this country, you are not
going to get away with it. It would have been destroyed if the
pilots had been successful and with the destruction of the Accord
would have been the destruction of all these achievements that
the Fin Review is properly spelling out. The economic future of
this country is only in danger if you allow the pilots and their
supporters, Mr Peacock, to get away with the destruction of the
wages system which has brought all these benefits.
MARNER:, The Accord though is an agreement between some of our
major players in the whole wages system in Australia, should it
have legal status?
PM: Well it has its legal ramifications in that the
principles of the Accord are reflected in the way in which the
Industrial Relations Commission is making their decisions. And
then those awards then have the force of law.
MARt4ER: You've had six and half years in govt. has this been
your most challenging time?
PM:, What at the moment? Oh, I don't know that you'd say
the most challenging, every day is a challenge, but I think it's
right to say that it's been the most important for the reasons
that I've just been talking about because of the danger that's
involved to th-3 system. I mean at no point before has there been
such a challenge to the fundamental underlying the way in which
the economy has recovered. I mean we've had as I say and that's
the position where we are creating jobs in this country twice as
fast as the rest of the world five times faster than under Mr
Peacock's mob before when they were in govt. And all of that has

PM ( cont) been done on the basis of wage restraint and never
before has there been a challenge like this to the restraint that
Australians are exercising. So in that sense a challenge, but in
the personal sense, no, I mean there have been times before which
were just as busy and tough and hard.
MARNER: The trade figures are due out mid morning today, your
expectations of those figures.
PM: I'll only say this that both Paul Keating and I have
said Annette, at the time of the budget and before that, that we
expected the first six months of this financial year, in other
words July to December, we expected those to be pretty tough and
we wouldn't see the really easing-off until the second half of
the financial year but what the specific figure would be I'm not
predicting that.

Transcript 7749