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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 7804


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: 10/11/1989

Release Type: Press Conference

Transcript ID: 7804

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, a long way to come for a
sausage? PM: Well, if that's all I'd travelled for, yes. I guess
it would be but it was a beautiful sausage and lovely
bread and beautiful people.
JOURNALIST: Are you shoring up your rural votes?
PM: Well, I'm you see this business about shoring up
up rural votes, it means that I can't go around Australia
until, according to that theory, until say five or six
months before an election. I'm always travelling around
Australia, always and I just am very pleased to be here
again after two years to support my good friend Peter
Cleeland. Great Member.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, have you thought any more abou4-
an election date?
PM: No going around this beautiful country, seeing
all these beautiful people, I mean, fancy having elections
on your mind.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the foreshadowed country
statement that you're going to make. What is it-
PM: The foreshadowed?
JOURNALIST: Country statement that you are going to make
PM: Yes, well the details of that are still being worked
out between some of the Ministers and Departments and
we'll be making that statement within a month I think.
JOURNALIST: And what areas will It cover?
PM: Rural Australia.

JOURNALIST: In reference to policies?
PM: It will be policies and statements and reviews of
what we have done and what's got to be happening in the
future, yes, matters of a range of interest to all rural
Australia. Issues that have been raised with us by my
Prime Minister's Country Task Force that has been operating
now for a period of time. They have been very useful,
going around and listening to people right around Australia
and they raise with them Issues of concern and where we
think that we can do something to meet those concerns,
we will.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what's your reaction to Dr
Stephen Fitzgerald
, PM: Just a minute. just a minute, the local one f irst,
yes? JOURNALIST: Is it an indication that the Government had
neglected rural Australia?
PM: No, no, on the contrary, we've done very, very much
more to meeting the range of needs of rural Australia
than has been done by previous governments and this has
been acknowledged by people in rural Australia. I mean.
it's not Just the people who are on farms. I mean, the
National Party in the past tended to talk about and not
do a hell of a lot about it at any rate, but the policies
for farmers. Rural Australia is, of course, importantly
farmers, but it's not just farmers. There's all the people
that live in the towns and our range of policies has been
concerned with ensuring a more effective delivery of services
in rural Australia. one of the problems in the past is,
it's just been assumed that somehow or other people in
rural Australia will get the services that are provided
by the Department of Social Security and the Department
of Employment and Training, but that assumption hasn't
been well based. You've got to do special things to make
sure these services are available and we've done that.
Now, what was yours?
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what's your reaction to Dr
Stephen Fitzgerald's comments that Australia's relationship
with China is exaggerated and dangerous?
PM: Well, I'm surprised by Stephen's statement. First
of all, look at the facts. I mean, there's some suggestion
that it's been at the expense of other countries in the
region, and of course, that simply isn't true. I mean
I have Just been, earlier this year, to the region and
our relations are superb. I mean, it's reflected in the
fact that we have been able Just this week in Canberra
to have the Asian Pacific Economic Co-operation Conference.

They have applauded the initiative of this Government.
Not just in regard to the conference, but in our relations
with the region. The fact that we can have such a conference,
never been done before, done at Australia's initiative,
that of itself, I suggest, explodes the proposition that
our relations with China have been at the expense of countries
in the region. You can't have those two propositions
sitting together that we have somehow prejudiced our relations
with the other countries of the region and have this historic
conference. The two propositions simply do not sit together.
JOURNALIST: Well, what have we got in return from China
for our strengthening our relations?
PM: Let me say this, you don't Just in having relations
with a country say ' what am I going to get in return?'
And presumably when Dr Fitzgerald in his, both his professional
diplomatic career and in his business career has been
himself giving the overwhelming proportion of his time
to China, when he was doing that he saw some point in
it. I don't believe he wanted to be the Ambassador to
China, I don't believe he's had a business with China
because he saw it as unimportant. And the importance
of relations with China are not simply in terms of what
you'll get in return, although I suppose in Dr Fitzgerald's
case, in his business capacity he's been seeking, you
know, a return from what he does. But as far as Australia's
concerned we certainly hope that having good relations
will make it easier for developing business, economic,
cultural, commercial relations with China, we hope that
will occur. But the other part of developing friendly
relations with China is the sensible global consideration
that here is a country which constitutes a quarter of
the world's population, which has a vast significance
in the region and potentially for the whole world and
it makes sense for countries like Australia, that China
can trust, we obviously have no designs on China, it's
very sensible for countries like Australia to develop
friendly relations with them, to give them a sense of
welcome in the region and in the world commnunity. And
that's part of what we've been about.
JOURNALIST: Dr Fitzgerald was hopeful that after the
Tiananmen Square massacre that relations could change.
Have they changed?
PM: They're not the same as they were before, of course.
We have in common with a number of other countries, have
not had the same measure of relationship as that we had
before. But we do keep, we obviously do keep relations
and one would be watching, as many countries are, what
the developments are in China. it would be silly for
Australia or for the rest of the world to cut off relations
with China because there are great forces within China
that want to see reform continue there, economic and political
reform. They want to see China continue to open up to
the rest of the world and we must conduct our relations
in a way which both indicate that we can't condone what

happened in June and at the same time indicate that we
want to keep our avenues of communication open. I think,
sensibly, we are doing that.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke,....... changed your attitude towards
China, changed the Dr Fitzgerald said?
PM: No, Dr Fitzgerald's comments will have no impact
upon our position at all.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, will the Federal Government continue
to negotiate with the chemists?
PM: Well, if I can use the sporting Jargon, the ball
Is really in their court and it has been accepted by South
Australia and the ACT and it's being further considered
by the other parts of the Guild. I hope they will accept
it because it represents, as I say, a $ 60 million addition
to the outcome from the Pharmacy Remuneration Tribunal
and it provides not Just $ 60 million additional, but it
goes to things that have been important to the chemists.
For instance, they have urged, in my opinion rightly,
urged for a recognition of their professional skills and
importance and it's not just a question of handing over
packages of films and dispensing things. I mean, they
have a professional role in the community, they've rightly
urged and that's been recognised in our package to them.
There are also provisions there for remote allowances
and there are also provisions for restructuring. These
are things that they regard as important. Now, I think
they should pick it up and then come down and sit down
and talk with us. They'll be able then to be in the Trust
that we're establishing to administer that $ 60 million,
we're also promising them that in that context we'll appoint
a representative from their experience on to the Tribunal.
So I hope they come back and if there are some things
edoaro utnhda t. the edges that need some further talking, we can
JOURNALIST: Are you concerned that both the pharmacists
and the Pilots Federation are targetting the marginal
seats? PM: No, I'm not-. because if there's one thing that's qui-te
clear by now after six and a half years in Government
is that we will not be threatened. But when we were in
our first term we were threatened by all sorts of groups
on the basis of the Assets Test. They were going to kill
us in marginal seats. Now the Assets Test was very simple.
We weren't going to allow the interests of a small group
who were already reasonably well protected by the community
to be further advanced at the expense of others. Now
we refused to be intimidated by a massive campaign on
the Assets Test.

Now if the pilots think they're going to conduct a campaign
which intimidates us, well, that's good, it's a democracy
and they can think about that if they want to. I think
it would be much more sensible on the pilots' part if
they asked themselves the question, shouldn't they act
in the same way as all other organisations and workers.
Accept the same principles and that's what the Industrial
Relations Commnission has asked them to do. They said
if you want to be part of the act, well accept what we,
as a Commission, have laid down which is the same for
everyone. Now I think that's what they ought to be thinking
about. I hope they will.
JOURNALIST: ( inaudible)
PM: Now, Just a minute. I'll come back to you.
You've got to give someone else a go you know.
O JOURNALIST: Can I ask about bank profits? National Australia
PM: Bank profits.
JOURNALIST: That's right. Don't you think it's
considering the high interest rates that National Australia
Bank's recorded highest profits yet?
PM: Well, as has been recognised, one of the reasons
for the considerable increase in bank profits has been
a) the growth in the level of business and the actual
increased productivity which has taken place within the
system. It's not Just a function of high interest rates
JOURNALIST: Do you support the banks
PM: Well, if you want to put words into my mouth you
S do so, I'm not doing that. I'm simply saying that the
profits that have emerged have emerged from a competitive
situation, certainly including high interest rates. In
regard to the mortgage situation, the home mortgage situation,
they've had to pay fairly high rates for the money which
they borrow and which they lend out. Now I'm not here
as an apologist for those level of profits. I think that
the banks ought to look at whether in areas of services
they can provide some of those services at somewhat better
rates. That's their decision, but it's a competitive
environment in which the National Bank has to be up against
others JOURNALIST: Nonetheless. Nobby Clark has described your
monetary policy as a slow lingering death of the thousand
cuts PM: Nobby Clark it can be argued, knows something about
banking. I don't think anyone really puts him high on
the list of economic analysts.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, finally
PM: Finally as far as you're concerned.
JOURNALIST: That's right. No, but I won't bother you
any more.
PM: OK. You haven't bothered me at all. What's your
next question?
JOURNALIST: Thank you.
PM Good.
JOURNALIST: Andrew Peacock's labelling you as yesterday's
man? PM: Yes, well, I suppose one has to take a little bit
of notice of Andrew because he is, you know, one of Australia's
authorities on yesterday's men because he's been one of
them. I mean, he's the recycled leader. I mean, this'
month it's Andrew's turn to lead the Liberal Party, alright,
next month or at the beginning of next year it'll be John's
turn. I mean, they've got a depth of talent haven't they?
Andrew, John, Andrew, John. I mean, he knows about yesterday's
man, he's been there. But let me say this. I've never
felt fitter, more capable and I've never been more excited
about an upcoming election as I am about this and Andrew
will need to ask at the end of the campaign was he up
against a tired man. I'll tell him now he'll be up against
a very, very vigorous man. But Andrew's problems really
not with me. I mean he really ought to be looking
at those people who are saying can we win with Andrew.
And a lot of them are saying no. Well, they are right.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, what's your reaction to the events
in West Germany today?
PM: I welcome them and I welcome them very much. I've
had the opportunity, of course, in the recent past of
having long discussions in the Soviet Union. That was
at the end of ' 87 of course, hot just in recent months.
But there was Mr Gorbachev. I understand the nature of
changes that he has in mind and Just a few months ago
I was in Hungary, had discussions with all the leading
figures there, so I do have the, you know, the advantage
of actually knowing the depth of determination that people
have for change. It was inevitable and I've said so before,
it was inevitable that these changes would not just be
confined to the Soviet Union and Poland and Hungary but
they must extend.

I am pleased at the speed with which they are extending
in East Germany because, after all, there are two things
that are quite clear. Firstly, and they have been for
a long time, that this outdated. irrelevant. counterproductive,
Marxist Leninist economic simply holding
back economic development around the world. Every state
that's practiced it has realised that and that's the core
of change in the Soviet Union and now in Eastern Europe.
The second thing that's equally clear is that you can't
have significant, impactful economic reform without political
reform and the move towards democratic processes and that's
what we are witnessing and we should all be very happy
about it.
JOURNALIST: What do you think you got out of Your discussion
with John the resigned pilot?
PM: Well, at least I was able to convey to John what
the facts are and those facts are very simple. That the
Industrial Relations Commission has said that there are
three conditions that need to be satisfied. If the AFAP
can be considered by the Commission as having any possible
role. Those conditions are that they must lift the embargo
on their members joining the airlines. Secondly, that
they must accept the decisions of the Industrial Relations
Commission and third, they must be bound by the National
Wage Case guidelines. Now, that is the fact and I was
able to convey that to John. I think there probably was
some lack of understanding that those are the conditions.
I mean, that's what I've been saying all along. That you've
got to act in terms of the principles and in accordance
with the requirements of the Commission. That's been
my position all along. The Commission has said that and
if they do that, then the Commission can see whether there's
a place for them.
JOURNALIST: Well speaking to him after your discussion
is hoping that perhaps you may be more willing to recognise
S the Pilots' Federation. Are his hopes going to be realised?
PM: You see, the Pilots' Federation exists. I don't
have to recognise it. There is a thing called the Australian
Federation of Air Pilots. It exists. It's existence
doesn't depend upon me. The real question is whether
that organisation can have any place in the rebuilding
of the airline industry. I repeat that the Industrial
Relations Commission has laid down the three conditions
which we have said from the beginning of the in the
Industrial Relations Commission have said. If those conditions
are accepted they will consider whether there's a place
and a role for them.
JOURNALIST: Do you still say there's no dispute?

PM: Well, it doesn't matter that I say it. The Industrial
Relations Commission says there is no industrial dispute.
I mean, no-one's questioning that. I mean, it's not a
semantic issue. There are still problems and real problems
in the tourism industry and for travellers. There are
still real problems. No-one's ever said it and I've said
that's not the case. But it's not a semantic issue when
you say that the industrial dispute is over. That finished
when they resigned. they don't have employees, they don't
have members employed in the indust ry. At the direction
of and under the decision of the AFAP, their members resigned.
They not only resigned, but they took all their long service
leave. They got out, they disassociated themselves with*
the industry. Now what's been happening is, as the industrial
Commission said, individual pilots are Joining up, signing
contracts. And that is happening and gradually and very
significantly the airlines are being rebuilt. In the
early part of next year they will be providing full normal
service, both airlines. That's what the condition will
be in Australia. Full normal airline services and that's
what's being done now. The only question is will the
AFA? have any part, and the Industrial Relations Commission
said if you accept those conditions we can consider whether
there'll be a role for you. So that's not complicated.

Transcript 7804