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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 8606


Photo of Keating, Paul

Keating, Paul

Period of Service: 20/12/1991 to 11/03/1996

More information about Keating, Paul on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 05/08/1992

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 8606

TEL 5. Aug .92 1
3: For a town that has been so knocked about, how did you find thc wood in there
PM: I thought it was profoundly good and optimistic, and amnongst each other kindly,
and willing to be part of the changes which will have to take place here to keep
this town in the pulp and paper Industry.
J: What's your response to their suggestion to set up a task force?
PM: Well, we'll cxamine that. I think the main thing is to guarantee that these plants
here are viable, and that means the company and thc employees being involved.
Onc thing is clcar that towns which have had adversity do stick together, and this
Is true as I said, whether It be Bernie In Tasmania, or Newcastle In New South
Wales, or Gcclon~ in Victoria, one does find that -spirit of cooperation which is
3: You've been fairly scathing of APPM since you've hit Bernie. They'vc suggested
they are willing to negotiate with unions..
PM: No, not scathing, It's good if they are, but on their announcement they should be
talk ing to peoplc rather than announcing it. That's the way to get things donc.
3: Is there a chance of slow down or a drop in tariffs, which the unions 11aVe
PM: The problcms of this mill is not to do with tariffs, it's to do with lack of investment
ovcr a quarter of a century, and not keeping up with the thing in competitiveness
termns. It's a slow phasc down In tariffs, thcre's hardly any daiagc to date from
tariffs, It's a slow phase down over the next 6 or 7 years. But already, in the last 3
months, the exchange rate has fallen by morc than the tariff change. So, it's not
7: 49 No. O3O ? ffj

TEL: 5. Fug. 92 17: 49 No. 030 P. 02/ C
tariffs it's management and it's having a willingness on the part of the company
to make the plant tick, and on the part of the employcs in making the town and
the business tick.
1: Prime Minister, in there you spoke about mateship. In that regard, can I just ask
you about the OST. If in Victoria it's not proven that the ads bite, where does that
leave your Govrment when you go to the polls?
PM: Look, State election campaigns come and go. They have even done so in the past
through major federal issues. I think people separate the issues out.
J: Today a survey of Chief Executive Officers has shown that about 54 per cent could
support a fomi of consumption tax.
PM: Well, so what, so what. It will blow the inflation rate to pieces, it will add 6-7
perceulage points to the price system, it will take bill rates from now under 6 per
cent to around 14 per cent, it will break two decades of effort of lowered inflation
rate. Look, Dr Hewson has got one policy he wants to lift prices through a
consumption tax and cut wages. It's a pretty heartless policy, and worse than that
it's a dumb policy. It will do nothing for Australia and nothig for Australia's
Industrial dcvelopnent.
J. says that the Federal Government has asked the State Government not to
campaign against the OST.
PM: It's no good trying to ask me questions about the Statc election, forgct about it.
I: Mr Keating, what was that last meeting about in there?
PM: They were just discussing the industry and the town, and factors in
J: They are fairly keen on regional security.
PM: Well I think anyone in the industry here is, and it's a pity the Liberal Party voted
against the legislation in the Senate. We had the Bill there and they voted it down.
J: What did they seek specifically at the meeting?
PM: Nothing in particular, not one thing in particular.
Thc survey of Chief Executive Officcrs also showed that they were willing to
Invcst money, but that Investment Is not going Into jobs but capital equipment. Is
that really one of the major problems?

TEL: 5. Aug. 92 17: 49 No .030 P. 03,
PM: No. no, look, it was the same In the 1980s. Whercvcr you see growth in the
economy, you see employment. They go together like Bib and Bub. if g2owth
goes up, employment locs up. So anything they do to get growth up will get
employment up. Now at the momecnt we're going to have a bit of a lag there
becausc we'll have more output from fewer people in the first instance, but as
activity picks up so too will employment. But It always takes a while to catch up.
But It will be there, as the economy starts growing as it's now doing, as I believe it
will in the course of this year, employment will come up with it.
J: Would you like to say anything about the death of Sir Robert Muldoon?
PM: I put a statement out. alrcady saying that he was obviously a leadcr of significancc
of the people of New Zealand and for the conservative party in New Zealand, and
he has made a substantial contribution to Nzw Zealand over a period of time, and I
expressed sympathy to his family, and to his party.

Transcript 8606