PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 9031


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: 10/11/1993

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 9031

ILI 2.,
PM: Prime Minister, welcome to Dateline.
PJK: Thank you very much, Paul. Good to be here.
PM: If I can start with the Seattle Summit. You are off there Wednesday of
next week for the APEC Summit, but President Clinton's having real
trouble with NAFTA, getting it through the Congress, if he fails to do
that what's the effeict on APEC?
PJK-I think the effect would be, perhaps an indirect effect, and that would
be that the flag of free trade or freer trade would be lowered in the
event that NAFTA didn't succeed in passing the Congress. It wouldn't
in any way diminish the United States capacity to trade into APEC, or
Canada's independent capacity or Mexico's independence to trade into
APEC, it is just that they wouldn't be an entity trading into APEC. But it
won't affect APEC it only basically effects the North American trade
PM: What do you expect out of the APEC Summit? Is it just a meeting, an
informal sort of meeting amongst leaders, or do you expect some real
progress? Because some people are saying to you, don't press too
hard, don't expect too much.
PJK: Well we have got an eminent persons group who have outlined steps
for the directions that APEC will take. We are trying to take APEC
from, basically, a mini OECD, an information policy secretariat, to an
executive body that will actually improve trade facilitation and lift the
velocity of trade and investment in the Pacific area. That can't happen
without the authority of the governments. So, we need the leaders of
the governments together, to pull it together, if we are to talk of it being
a community.

PM: Yes. Would you accept Russell Fynmore ( of BHIP) advice that you
may be going too fast and to put the brakes on?
PJK: No, I don't think so, no. Australia hasn't got a second to lose. We
have all ready lost a century or so of getting ourselves accommodated
in this part of the world, and to get a structure in the Asia-Pacific. The
great thing about APEC is that, all at the one time, it gives us a chance
to multilateralise the interests of the United States, Japan and China,
as well as the countries of South East Asia. Now, large countries like
the United States always reserve the rights to do things by themselves.
They don't like signing up to a set of rules. But I think this is the great
opportunity of APEC and why it should be taken.
PM: But, Prime Minister, what about Asian countries who do have high tariff
wails, will they feel threatened at all?
PJI( I don't think so, because you can see there is Indonesia now starting to
announce a week or so ago a reform agenda to get industrial
protection down. You can see that China will do the same. But we are
talking about two things here, facilitating trade, trade facilitation, and
protection. Such things as harmnonised company rules, harmonised
investment standards, harmonised foreign investment, propert law
all these things will make investment better.
PM: Prime Minister, on to your Mabo legislation, which I think we will be
seeing pretty soon, can yobu sketch out the principles with the
accompanying social justice package? What are you doing there for
Aboriginal and Islander people?
PJK: The big problem for those who can't avail themselves of some of the
benefits under the Mabo decision or the body of law we will establish
are those who are formally alienated from the land, dispossessed of
the land, the so-called social justice package largely will be a land
acquisition fund, a large revolving fund.
PM: How big will it be?
PJK Well that is yet to be decided, but it will be substantial. I hope that the
earnings from the fund itself will be enough to be able to continue an
acquisition program every year. In other words it won't be the
spending of just a fund, but the earnings of a fund, will continue to go
PMV: Hundreds of millions, or billions?
PJK: Well, hundreds of millions, at least.
PM: At least.

Z 9UU4
PJK At least.
PM: Now Richard Court is going it alone, he is extinguishing Native Titde,
but he i-s allowing traditional use of the land. Why can't you do that as
well as doing what you are doing in your legislation?
PJI( Well, what he is doing is basically taking away the proprietary title, that
comes under our legislation, it comes from Mabo. He is saying
Aboriginal people can have the maintenance of so-called Native rights
undefined, but no proprietary title, certainly nothing running as far as
sole occupancy, or anything like running as far as freehold. In other
words what he is saying is you can have a set of rights but not title,
and we can take those rights away whenever it suits the Government.
PM: But you will ride roughshod over him, won't you, when you bring down
your legislation?
PJK Well, we are hoping that he will sign up to the principals we have there'
when he sees the legislation. Because we made it very clear here,
Paul, that the economic imperatives, as well as the social imperatives,
have got to be met here. And so we have left all the development area
with the States, and for them not to accept that, same States like
Western Australia not to accept that, is to wilfully take an ideological
view that in the end Aboriginal people should not have title to land.
PM: But he is unlikely to sign up, isn't he?
PJF( Well if he doesn't the Commonwealth tribunals would operate in
Western Australia.
PM:-Right. Could I move on now to one of your biggest and most
intractable problems, unemployment? Now, you are saying that the
economy is really recovering now, but how can you really say that
when we have still got unemployment over 10 per cent?
PJK: Well, I am not saying that unemployment has recovered much Paul,
because it hasn't. This has been a product ivity-l aden recovery that
is, we are getting more output from fewer people. We are starting to
see the job vacancies and some employmrent come through now. You
notice the ANZ job series this week was up
PM: Yes, 7.7.
F'JK: Yes, 27 per cent over the year and up substantially in the month. But
what we have to do is not just get aggregate employment going, but
also deal with the long-term unemployed who have slipped to the
bottom of the queue.

15I193 15: U0 2 lud 273 2923 PM PRESS OFFICE 400O5
PMV: Indeed, on a personal note, in your own electorate in Canterbury-
Bankstown anyhow 20,000 people out of work, that is 14.4. What
can you do about that, because you have been back in power now for
eight months?
PJK That is why we have this major study going on now that is, to see
whether we can do something in Australia which is novel and new in
world terms, as well as dealing with the long-term unemployed through
the labour market programs which we are now spending over
billion on. That will get people at least bark into work experience
those who have not had any work experience in the recent years.
PM: OK you have got the White and the Green Paper, but when is the
earliest we can see some decisions on that, like things such as the
jobs guarantee level whether you are going to do that?
PJK: Ail those questions will be resolved in the Budget round of 1994.
PM: Right. What about Mr Dawkins' suggestion for low award payments in
the private sector?
PJK: We are waiting to what the Committee recommends. It is the most farreaching
review into the labour market, and trends in the labour market
and unemployment, that we have had since the war. So, it is a very
large piece of work and the Government will take it seriously and we
will then look at the policy responses coming up to the Budget next
PM: OK, just to clarify that, the new Budget round you say. Is that Budget
round being brought forward, say February/ March for say an
AprillJune Budget?
PJK: The Government is considering bringing it forward on the proviso that
we can get the Budget through by 30 June. That is, we actually do
genuinely change the cycles and not that we have some spill over that
runs into July and August because were we to do that there is no point
to it.
PM: Right.
PJK So the Treasurer is now exploring those matters and will be with the
minor parties in the Senate in the next week or two.
PM: So, can you promise Australians that there will be some really concrete
action on unemployment say February/ March/ April?
PJK I can certainly promise them this Paul there will be very concrete
action on this report by the Government to deal with unemployment in

UU 0
the next Budget. Now, if it is an early Budget, it will be earlier, if it is a
later Budget, it will be a bit later.
PM: OK just on levies. What about raising the Medicare levy for those who
can afford it, who earn over $ 50,000 a year?
PJK That is another thing that Cabinet has got to consider what we do
about health and there is no doubt that a lot of the healthier people are
dropping out of private insurance. But, Medicare is a generalised levy:
I pay 1.4 per cent on $ 160,000 a year, someone on average weekly
earnings pays 1.4 per cent $ 32,000 a year.
PMV: Should you pay 1.9 per cent?
PJK Well, I'm paying now much more say, than someone on a low income
and that has been the principle of Medicare universality and a single
rate. I think, the Government would need a lot of convincing to shift
away from that.
PMV: Graham Richardson of course, says that he is summoning up the
courage to suggest to you that you and your family should go into
private health insurance.
PJK He is going to need a lot of it.
PM: A lot of courage?
PJK: Absolutely.
PM: You are not contemplating going into private health insurance?
PJK No, I'm not and why should I? Because the fact is we have got a levy
which is universal. It is a bit like the argument saying you can't put
your kid into a public school if you have got an income over $ 60,000.
PMV: But, you have often listened to Graham Richardson, so in this case
you are not going to take his advice?
PJK: No, well, Graham is going to bring a package of things to the Cabinet
and this was only one of a great number of measures, and he has
always made it clear to me not any one of them is vital to the package
he has in mind.
PM* A final question on multiculturali-sm. You have always tried can you
give a commitment that your Government will continue to fund a lot of
the programs that entails, because you have out English tuition to adult
migrants by 30 per cent?

15/ 11 ' 93 15: 04 % T06 273 2923 PM PRESS OFFICE -007
4 6
PJK But, our support generally for the mulficultural programs of the country
has been growing right through the ' 8Os and in the ' 90s and also may I
say, SBS is a model of that. In fact, the very expression of that.
PM: A very final brief question do you think you will be facing a new
Leader of the Opposition Christmas or New Year?
PJK I think Dr Hewson signed off on 13 March as an effective Leader of the
Liberal Party. He got the job back because they didn't know what to do
at the time. Now, they have had some change to ruminate about it and
think about it I think they will come to the conclusion there is no more
life left in him and whoever it may be, we will deal with them as they
PM: Prime Minister, thank you very much indeed for coming onto Dateline.
PJK: Thank you, Paul.

Transcript 9031