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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 9302


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: 02/08/1994

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 9302

J: You've made some pretty strong criticisms of Greenpeace, are there
other factors involved?
PMV: Well, I didn't want to extend the Forum press conference out here but I
will take some domestic questions.
J: Are you concerned that Australia's willingness to train Indonesian
troops will in any way undermine the American human rights push in
that country?
PM: I don't think so. I think that the President has made his policy clear in
respect of China. That is, that one has a bigger influence on countries
when you are relevant to them and that is when the United States
made a decision on MFN for China in the same way as Australia has a
more relevant relationship with Indonesia than Wts had in the past on
all Issues including human rights.
J: Mr Keating, John Fahey has announced a public consultation into the
future of Circular Quay, today. You've got some strong personal views
on that what would you like to see done, and do you think a public
consultation is the way to go about it?
PM: Well, it's no substitute for leadership, and I hope the Premier has
written to me saying that he wants to engage the Commonwealth again
In a discussion about the financial costs of a chang to Circular Quay,
and we're quite happy to have the discussion. But we want a real one
and we want all the facts on the table.
J: So, you're prepared to. put some money in?
PMV: We are. But under certain conditions.
J: Whats your reaction to Alexander Downer's letter involving the
Ciftiens Initiated Referendum?

PM: Well, I thought there was a very revealing piece in today's Canberra
" times where he admitted he had not told the truth six years ago when
questioned about his attitude to the Citizens Initiated Referendum. Of
course, this bogs the question, when is he telling the truth? -He will
have to let us know. And he told a press conference, he told an ABC
journalist recently, Paul Lyneham on the 7.30 Report he said, " I'm the
most open and honest person you'll ever find." Well, I mean generally,
if any of us in public life me, or John Hewson, or Bob Hawke, or
Malcolm Fraser came out and said, as Alexander Downer has said, " I
am the most open and honest person you'll ever find", yoU~ d get. a
horse laugh right through the cou~ ntry. He said this, and then has
admitted that he has told an untruth on this question of* Citizens
Initiated Referenda... which means you can't tell when he is telling the
truth. But, more than that the notion of him being the most honest
person around is actually debunked by himself, on his own admission.
Can I just say, though, that about his defence yesterday in respect of
Mabo where he says itVs all about Aboriginal health the Liberals
always put this in these terms: you can have Aboriginal health, better
health and better education, or land, but you can't have both. Where,
in fact is about improved. health and education and land. And, as any
number of people wise about this subject will say, irs the alienation
from the land which affects the welfare of aboriginal people. Now, this
Government has vastly improved funding for aboriginal health and
education, and of course last obviously so, in the response to the
Deaths In Custody Royal Commission. But, what he's about saying is
you get one or the other. And really, what ifs all about is essentially
appealing to the redneck group in the West Australian Liberal party
upon whom he has relied for support in his challenge.
So, ifs not surprising that today the mining and farming leaders are
concerned about Mr Downers ill-considered remarks because
repealing the Native Title Act or even saying you will, creates great
uncertainty as to tenure and as to title. Now, I know Richard Courrs
trying to do this with the High Court challenge. But they say no-one
will know the mining companies and the pastoralists say that no-one
will now where they stand if the act is repealed. So, the tribunal is, in
operation we're watching closely how it's working, and we think irs
working effectively. So, this notion that it needs to be repealed can I
Just say in seeking to help him, the Leader of the National party said
today in a press statement that Alexander Downer said he would
repeal the legislation, as an option, if iK proved the Act was unworkable
But thats not what Alexander Downer said at all. What he said was, " If
I have to repeal the Act to achieve our goals, then thars what I'll do."
No mention of unworkable that's only the spin being put on it by Tim
Fischer as a Coalition partner. So, the fact is, here, the Liberals are
up to their usual business say to the Aboriginal community, ' We know
better. We know what's beat for you. Ifs better health and better
education, but it's not land' When the Aboriginal community * say, " No,

no, no, what we need here is access to land", and what-anybody in the
debate about aboriginal policy knows, Ws the alienation of aboriginal
people from their land which produces most of the problems in their
welfare. So, you know, the Liberals the point I made yesterday, let
me repeat the point the Liberal Party has lost its way as a political
party. It has no policy on Australia's identity, and even on things like
social cohesion, going as they must to how we relate to our indigenes,
they prove again even after the Mabo debate has been had, and the
Bill hat, been initroduced and passed they prove again that basically,
they are. about the policies of social division and can't give the lead as
a political party which Australia now needs. The Liberal Party is not
capable of giving a lead on these big issues of identity and culture and
on social policy, and Alexander Downer has displayed that again in the
last 24 hours.
J: Is Mr Downer himself a bigot do you think Prime Minister?
PM: Well, I made it quite clear yesterday. I noticed a bit of sloppy reporting
on this point I said that he was givng support to, you know what I
think is unrestrained bigotry on the part of the Western Australian
Liberals. Now, I don't know quite in the end where Alexander Downer
stands on this, but I hope that upon reflection, he'll recant from his
views of giving succour and support to these unworthy rednecks.

Transcript 9302