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Transcript 7771


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: 10/10/1989

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 7771

RAYMOND: Prime Minister, thank you for your time.
PM: My pleasure Steve.
RAYMOND: The dynamics of setting an election date. I'm
just curious to know the factors preventing you from
completely ruling out December here and now.
PM: It's what I've been saying is that overwhelmingly I
think the election will be next year. I guess no Prime
Minister is ever going to say that there isn't some
circumstance that might arise but to all intents and
purposes I'm talking about what I've been talking all along.
That's 1990 Steve.
RAYMOND: So the bottom line is you go when you've got your
best chance of winning?
PM: I'd be the first Prime minister in all of recorded
history I think who wouldn't regard it as a relevant
consideration to try and maximise your chances. I mean it'd
be peculiar if you didn't do that. But essentially what's
happened since I've been elected in ' 83 is I went in ' 84
then to get the coincidence of the Senate and the House of
Representatives. was ' 84, it was three years to ' 87.1
went in ' 87. 1990 would be the normal thing to do.
RAYMOND: would a December date be an admission on your part
that you can't get interest rates in sync with your
re-election timetable?
PM: No it wouldn't be. I've said on interest rates that
they will two related things about that. Firstly I'm
not an idiot. I don't like interest rates being high.
They're not up there for fun. They won't be up there, high,
for a day longer than is economically responsible. But I
won't take them off a day earlier than is appropriate. We
believe that the tight settings we've got Steve, fiscal
policy, wages and monetary policy, are going to produce a
gradual slowing of the economic activity so we can get a
level of imports that we can live with. When we see that
then we can ease off monetary policy.

RAYMOND: What I was saying in layman's terms was if you did
go in December it might be an indication that, well, that
it's not going to get any better between December and May of
next year.
PM: As I say from my earlier answer, it's a very very
hypothetical situation.
RAYMOND: You'd probably baulk if I said steamrolling, but
isn't it true of late you've been asserting your personal
authority to get Cabinet to back your political judgement.
I'm thinking of compensation for the airlines, * Kodak
assistance and Kakadu last week.
PM: I think in regard to Kakadu a somewhat unusual thing
happened in there in this respect. The meeting we had in
this past week was not the first consideration of it. we'd
considered it a week or so before. So we came to it with
general arguments having been considered. I'd thought about
it a lot and I thought well the best thing I'd say to my
colleagues is this is what I think ought to happen at
the beginning of it. I did that and so people were
discussing it in the framework in the clear understanding of
what I thought was best. way this Cabinet has operated
since 1983. that I tend to let them talk through it and
as it becomes clear what I think ought to happen I don't
think there's been one situation in six and a half years in
which my view hasn't prevailed. I don't say that in a
dogmatic way in any sense but that has been the case. We
don't take votes in the Cabinet. Generally people think
that well he's the bloke that's in charge, he's the bloke
that's got to go and sell the Government's position and who
has the responsibility. If it goes well he gets support, if
it goes badly he gets a kick in the backside. So in these
past few occasions I've certainly had a view that these
things ought to happen and that view has prevailed. But
that in a sense is not basically different to what's
happened for six and a half years.
RAYMOND: Are you as dirty on Sir Arvi Parbo, the Chairman
of BHP, as he appears to be on you and your Government,
saying you can't be trusted?
PM: It's interesting. After an interview I did this
morning, in which I made it quite clear that the position
wasn't being put accurately about the phone call he'd made
to me, I spoke to Sir Arvi because I thought it sensible
that I do so. I must say with full respect to Sir Arvi that
he said quite straightforwardly that what I was saying about
the phone call was absolutely correct and I think by now
he's probably indicated that publicly. I've got no desire
in these things to have personal antagonisms. There's an
issue there and as I said to Sir Arvi well if you'd like to
talk about that at some stage then we can talk about it. He
indicated that he'd like to do that. So at some stage we'll
talk about it.

RAYMOND: The pilots' dispute. After two months you
certainly appear to be on the winning side. Is it fair to
suggest though, with the position you hold and with your
powers of persuasion, you should've been able to knock heads
together and get a resolution long before two months was up?
PM: Well it's fair enough for you to suggest it but it's
not an accurate reading of the situation. Because people
say Hawke you were the great negotiator, the skilled person
bringing people together. Well that's true. I was. I was
the best in that country.
RAYMOND: Modesty aside.
PM: Not modesty. A factual statement. I was the best.
Given that sort of situation again I still would be. But
what you had here was something different. You had a
situation where there was a Federation which simply said as
its basic position it was not going to be in the wages
system. It was alright for all your ordinary listeners, all
their husbands or their wives, alright for every other
person in the community to be bound by a wages system which
had created this enormous surge of employment in this
country, more than twice as fast as the rest of the world.
That's happened because the workers of this country, to
their great credit, have exercised considerable restraint.
There have been improvements in the social wage to
compensate for otherwise larger increases in money wages.
But the pilots said, no, we'll grab all the benefits in the
social wage, we'll be the greatest beneficiaries of the tax
cuts that have been associated with it, all the other
things, but we want the extra money wage increases as well.
So we weren't in the same playing field for me to an umpire
or a negotiator. They said we are not going onto that
playing field. As far as I was concerned from day one what
was at issue was not the pilots' wage claim as such but what
was an issue was to whether all your listeners and all of
the ordinary people around Australia, whether their
commitment to an orderly wage system and all the benefits
that have gone with it, whether that was going to be saved
or not. They said we're not on that playing field. So from
day one as far as I was concerned the situation was, very
well, you absolutely say that's your position. I pleaded
with them at the beginning. I said come into the system,
negotiate, some increases there. They said no. In that
situation there was only one thing and that was,
particularly when they ordered their people to resign, which
they did, so there was no employment nexus between the
Federation and its members and the airlines. It was simply
a question then, airlines recruit and get the thing going.
I was not going to have Australia knocked over by these
people. RAYMOND: How will it end? A KO or a points victory?

PM: Quite frankly I'm not looking at it in terms of
victory. If you go back to the previous situation you talk
about where I used to organise resolutions for dispute. I
never, as you know, look at the record when we had that
great fight in regard to retail price maintenance. I guess
it could be said we knocked people out there. I got the
bloke in and said I'm not interested now in saying that
we've won, knocked you out and I'm not here, I mean it's not
about saying Hawke won and the other mob lost. The winners
in this will be Australia. The ordinary people, your
ordinary listeners. They are the people that are going to
win out of this.
RAYMOND: Alright. Because of the pilots' situation,
tourism at the moment, a suggestion. Why not make, for the
remaining life of your Government, tourism a single status
ministry and reinstate John Brown who has the confidence of
the stricken industry?
PM: Of course he has the confidence but to John Brown's
great credit he hasn't been inactive. He's been very very
active. I've been talking with him. He's very very much
involved in this. John's retiring at this next election.
RAYMOND: I said the remaining life
PM: Yes I know but you're talking obviously a period of
six, seven, eight months at the most. John wouldn't want
that. What I give John Brown enormous credit for since he's
been out of the ministry is he hasn't ceased to maintain,
not just a formal interest, but a dedicated and involved
interest with tourism. He's talked to me a lot, made some
suggestions which have been very helpful.
RAYMOND: A few personal questions. If Labor wins a fourth
term do you intend to remain leader throughout and head the
fifth election campaign?
PM: I've said that I would go through the next full term
then after that one has to start wondering as to how
long you keep going. As I said I'm in the fortunate
position there was life before politics for me and there'll
be a very interesting life after politics.
RAYMOND: The other side of the coin. If you were to lose
this time around are you prepared for the hard slog of being
an opposition leader for three years?
PM: A hard slog's never worried me. I've worked hard all
my life, very hard. I enjoy hard work. So a hard slog is
not something that worries me. It will be another set of
considerations as to whether I'd want to do that. But hard
slog doesn't worry me. It never has.
RAYMOND: How do you feel about it at the moment though?

PM: we're going to win. I've never regarded it as a useful
exercise in life to wonder about what if, either forward or
backwards. I get on and deal with things as they are.
RAYMOND: This is not intended to be disrespectful.
PM: Thank you Steve.
RAYMOND: Nice qualification.
PM: Yes, here comes whack.
RAYMOND: Have you at least to some degree become addicted
to the power?
PM: No.
S RAYMOND: The lifestyle?
PM: No. I'm sure you can ask anyone with whom I'm
associated, anyone, and they will tell you that power is not
something which Hawke gets carried away by. I mean I lead
an ordinary sort of existence. As an ordinary sort of
existence as I can. obviously I live at the Lodge, I live
at Kirribilli. That's not ordinary. So I'm not trying to
be silly about it. But I go to the races, I love going to
the races. I was there yesterday, I went to the races in
Canberra. It was Canberra Cup day. I just move around
amongst the people. The trappings of power have never never
interested me. All the business of the 19-gun salutes and
that sort of thing, it's something that you've got to
tolerate and go through. It never ever has me. I've
always like to, in 30 years of public life, the thing that
I've enjoyed most is getting round and meeting people.
RAYMOND: When you move out of the Lodge or when you're
rejected, one or the other, will you be taking up residence
in Sydney or Melbourne?
PM: I've got this situation. My daughter Sue and two of my
grandchildren, Sue's, live here in Sydney. My other
daughter Ros, with two of my grandchildren is in Canberra
and may come to Sydney. So all the pull of my family would
be towards Sydney. But even if that brings me to live here,
and I love Sydney, there's no doubt about that, I will still
always retain a very great affection for Melbourne.
Melbourne in many senses, it doesn't have the glamour of
Sydney as you know, but it's a great city. I've had many
happy years of my life there.
RAYMOND: Can you name just one area where you've failed to
live up to your own expectations as Prime Minister?

PM: That's a good and a tough question. There obviously
must be some. I guess the thing that worries me a little
bit is that I haven't been able to communicate I think as
well to the Australian people the sorts of things which
we've achieved. When I say we've achieved I don't mean we
as Government alone. Because if I look back over six and a
half years where, for instance, I'll just go back to that
employment bit Steve. We've created one and a half million
new jobs. To get an idea of what that means, that rate of
job growth in Australia in our period of Government has been
more than twice as fast as the rest of the industrialised
world. It's five times faster than occurred under the
conservatives when they were in from ' 75 to ' 83. There's
been an enormous increase in benefits to people in the
community who really need it. I guess to some extent I'm
disappointed that I haven't been able as fully to get
through to the Australian people that together, that is
Government and the people together, that this is an enormous
achievement of Australia. I think in a vague sort of way
they know it and they're proud of it. There are two things
about it. It's an enormous achievement and we've done it
RAYMOND: Alright, that achievment aside, the communication
gap. what else? where else have you failed to satisfy your
own expectations?
PM: Well, on the side of the employer organisations, I had
hoped that we might get a better two things a better
form of organisation where the employers of Australia were
able to speak with one sort of voice. I started off when
Prime Minister to talk about that, and they set up the
Business Council of Australia. And I think even employers
themselves would say there hasn't been the sort of response
to organisation that I'd hoped there would be. That's not,
you might say isn't that a pretty small deal? It's not
really beacuse the trade unions of Australia have their
organisations improved enormously. They speak with one
authoritative voice and they are undertaking the process of
reform in a way which employers regard as quite remarkable.
I think it would have been good for Australia if we could
have matched that form of commitment to organisation and
restructuring and modernising and authority in speaking. If
that could have been matched on the employers' side I think
it would have been a good thing. I tried to get that going
but I don't think it has been terribly successful.
RAYMOND: After a gestation period of nearly two years the
opposition will finally unveil its tax policy on Thursday.
Do you already know what's in it?
PM: No. But what I do know is that they are years behind
schedule. Two, I know that there has been a very small
group of people involved in it and that a lot of the people
in the Liberal Party in the Parliament and the National
Party are wondering with trepidation what's going to be in
it. They are probably looking as closely as we are to

it. It's been you know a very secretive sort of exercise.
Thirdly I would bet you this. You remember when Andrew
Peacock went on his mini campaign. The first day he
trumpeted off the big, what he said was going to be the
knock-out blow. His words. The knock-out blow was the
interest deduction scheme. You remember I went onto the
Sunday Program, that next Sunday, and I said I bet you one
thing that was straight away I said I bet you one thing.
It won't be in their policy I'll bet you now, it won't
be in the policy.
RAYMOND: Will you be gracious enough to commend any
innovative proposals?
PM: I have always, when I was in Opposition and when I was
in the trade union movement, if anyone outside of my own
group had come up with something that's worthwhile I've
always been prepared to recognise it. I mean they've had a
long time though haven't they?
RAYMOND: Yes they've had a very difficult labour period.
PM: It makes an elephant look like someone in a hell of a
hurry doesn't it?
RAYMOND: Who's given you the toughest, the tougher contest?
John or Andrew?
PM: I don't want to sound complacent about this but I've
felt comfortable facing either of them as I felt comfortable
facing Malcolm in 1983. I think that essentially the reason
is this. Not so much a matter of personalities but none of
them, and this includes now the question about John Howard
and Andrew Peacock. The big problem is that they have no
natural constituency with the ordinary people of Australia,
no relationship. So what they are doing is, the people
When I came to office in ' 83 it's a remarkable statistic
but it's very important for 31 of the previous 34 years,
31 of the 34 years before I came to office the conservatives
had been power. They assumed that they had a right to
office. They didn't have any natural constituency. They
thrived on the internal divisions and bitterness and
fighting of the Labor Party for a lot of that period. They
got office by default. They hadn't been in the process of
policy formulation either within their own ranks or through
being in touch with the people of Australia and getting
the feeling. So Howard and Peacock and before them Mr
Fraser had had that problem. So I felt comfortable Steve in
the sense that we are now a united party. We were terribly
disunited before and often we didn't deserve to be in office
because of But now we are united, we've got the
policies, we've got the leaders, we've got the relationship.
I don't think it's just a question of the personality of
John Howard or of Andrew Peacock. It's a much more
fundamental problem they've got.

RAYMOND: But you certainly couldn't be the same man of the
people that you were six and a half years ago after being
cocooned in The Lodge for that length of time.
PM: Well you come around with me. You come around with me
to the races, you come around with me to shopping centres,
you come with me to pensioners
RAYMOND: thinking of the ' silly old bugger'
PM: OK, sure. OK, that was one incident. You just come
with me Steve when I go around the shopping centres, when I
go around to pensioners meetings. You just come with me.
The relationship that I have when I go around is at least as
warm as it was in 1983.
RAYMOND: OK, two final questions. I thank you for your
generosity with your time.
PM: It's a pleasure.
RAYMOND: Prime Minister, your thoughts on the turmoil in
commercial television at the moment, the mass sackings going
on at Ten and precarious financial positions faced by Bond
Media and Christopher Skase's Quintex Group.
PM: Well as you know we've been a Government which has been
deregulatory. We deregulated in the financial banking
sector. We have in the media to a very large extent. All I
can say is that what's been happening in television is that
the market has been operating, I think it probably would be
said that the market pitched prices far too high and in the
result there have been interest burdens which have become
intolerable. So you're having the market shake-out. I
think that basically in terms of capacities that have been
established since we introduced television in 1956 in this
country, the fundamental capacity of television is very good
in this country. The fundamental capacity is strong, there
is a lot of talent in it. It's just going to be a question
of shake-down and competition and I think there'll probably
be some more casualities on the way.
RAYMOND: How do you feel about it? I don't think you'd
need a crystal ball to say somewhere down the track
someone's going to come to the Government pleading about
Australian content and wanting to lower it because of
financial constraints.
PM: The ABC has recently put up a concept Australian
look and that created some problems of uncertainty. Now
they've amended that sort of concept and there are further
discussions going on between the industry and the ABC.
That's the way for it to be handled.

RAYMOND: Final question. With his determination to
implement reforms embodied by glasnost and perestroika, do
you regard Mikhail Gorbachev as perhaps the world leader of
our time?
PM: He's certainly up there ranking amongst them. I've had
the opportunity of spending some three hours with Mikhail
Gorbachev in just one on one conversation. He is without
any question a truly remarkable man. He is highly
intelligent, he's got a good sense of humour and he's also
direct. When you have a meeting with him, a discussion,
it's all on the table. You can ask him anything and he'll
respond. There's no deviousness in discussion with him. He
is by any standard Steve one of the truly remarkable figures
of the 20th Century. Within the general communist orbit I
would certainly mention with him Zhao Ziyang, the previous
Prime Minister and Secretary General of the Communist Party
in China. He was a truly, and remains although he's out of
office, a truly remarkable man. I think when you think of
what they have been trying to do, and that is essentially to
rid their countries of the obsolescence of an outdated
irrelevant Marxist-Leninist ideology and try to bring to the
management of their economies more modern realities.
They've taken on a task which is unmatched really by any,
and a challenge unmatched by any world leader of the
Century. They are in a sense the equal to the challenge but
the forces lined up against them. The sheer magnitude of
what they are about may prove too much for Gorbachev. I
certainly hope not. I think that the West is sensible in
having the attitude that we do and that is while having
appropriate caution that we ought to do all that we can to
assist Gorbachev to prevail because in the end economic
reform in the communist countires must, as we see, be
associated with political reform and the gradual emergence
of a freer society and greater liberty for the individual.
And in the end that's what life's about.
RAYMOND: Thank you for your time today.
PM: Thanks Steve.

Transcript 7771