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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 9303


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: Press Conference

Transcript ID: 9303

PM: Well, I might say thank you indeed. I think that the Pacific leaders feel
quite proud of the achievements of this Forum. The outcomes have
justified our confidence in changing the format to bring the retreat to
centre stage. Allowing leaders to discuss privately real issues of
significance to their economies and societies has proven, I think that
the leaders are very much up to grappling with the big issues. And, I
think on the theme of managing our resource, which was the theme of
the Forum, they have shown that concrete actions go beyond words,
and there have been plenty of those, On the big topics I mentioned to
you yesterday, for instance, forestry, during the morning we held a
separate meeting of Forum Uimber producing countries thafts
Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands
and Vanuatu and agreed to work towards a common code of
conduct on forests, to which companies operating in those countries
would have to adhere, and agreed to increase urgently the monitoring
of logging. And, we've agreed that forestry officials will meet within
two months to work on this, although we will be progressing the
monitoring more quickly than that This is in addition to that to which
we agreed yesterday about common legislation et cetera, which we
gave you notice of last night On fisheries, of course, leaders have
agreed on the merits of multi-lateral approaches in order to get fairer
returns than at present On airlines, leaders have agreed to examine
options for rationalising airlines in order to reduce losses, which are a
point which I advised you of yesterday. On tourism, leaders agreed on
the need to protect fragile coastal zones. Al offhk was confirmed
again today in the plenary session in ihe communique.
During this morning's meeting, we also agreed that South Pacific
finance ministers would meet to discuss ways of dealing with common
problems of public sector and fiscal mismanagement, where it might be
a difficulty, and to put remedial changes into budgets, which all of us
need to do from time to time. Finance ministers generally have the
burden of being at the hard edge of all change in governments,
particularly where the public sectors of governments are the
predominate sectors and, we think. therefore, a meetin of finance
ministers might be an appropriate thing to be doing. and where we

might be able to share each other's experiences and look at trend
behaviour in fiscal policies. Other matters discussed and agreed
during formal sessions are covered in the Forum communique, which
of course, you have. Australia made two announcements, a South
Pacific 2000 program, which will help South Pacific countries
participate in the Sydney Olympic Games and benefit from them
because the South Pacific gave very stong support to Australia in its
Olympic campaign. And, also, additional support to South Pacific
countries under the SPARTECA trade arrangements for export
development and foreign investment promotion.
Overall, I think the meeting clearly shows the understanding that South
Pacific leaders have, of the urgent challenges we face. And, the thing
that impressed me, I must say, particularly, was the political will that
they all showed in seeking to manage those challenges, and their
willingness to actually grasp the nettle on big problems. I think the
Forum has again proven its value as an institution. The drive for better
management of our natural resources is something that each of the
leaders feels strongly about, and I think the results of the Forum reflect
a collective commitment to use our resources in a sustainable way. I
think the Forum concluded with the leaders fairly pleased with
themselves that in a much more concentrated period of time, in two
days, and with a theme for the Forum that they have been able to
maximise their time and the opportunity of their meeting together to
grasp these larger problems, and we now have a year to consider
those problems before the next Forum meeting in Papua New Guinea:
Now, rd be glad to take questions.
J Phillip Williams, ABC, one of the leaders I spoke to expressed concern
about Australia's record on greenhouse gas emissions and called on
Australia to make specific comfittments to adhere to the convention
and not to seek any exemptions from the individual conventions. Can
you give those guarantees that will take place?
PM That argument has been put about by Greenpeace and Greenpeace
wouldn't know a win if they tripped over it. Let me just tell you this
How many meetings of groups of countries like this are there, deciding
to monitor forests, deciding that they will look at sustainable
development in forests, particularly tropical hardwood forests, deciding
to look at replenishment of stocks in fish and management of fish
stocks, worry about sustainability of fishing fields, putting in place
mechanisms to approach major countries who deal in them? At some
point, organisations like Greenpeace, have got to say, well look, you
go around the world, you talk about climate change, you talk about the
big issues, and you don't get the response from industrial countries,
and you don't get them from the resource rich countries. On this
occasion you've got them, but you'd have to put it up in fluorescent
lights with neon tubes to get the message through to Greenpeace.
Now there is no doubt they will go around hawking their views to forum

island countries who are sitting six to nine feet, two or three metres
above the surface of the sea, saying, well, and telling them
erroneously that tomorrow they'll be doomed. And then saying Where
does Australia stand? Well Australia stands very firmly on the
question of greenhouse gas emissions. It has been part of the lead in
the western world and industrial countries in doing this and again the
communique supports this. But again, this has to be a global
approach-All greenhouse gas emitters have to be treated in an
equitable way and thats where we're going to make a difference but I
think Greenpeace thinks that because the Australian Government has
a proudih envirimntal record and is keen about environmental issues
that Greenpeace will ride Australia to alone not in concert with
industrial countries to alone meet international greenhouse
emissions without others being inclined to that Well, they're wasting
their time. Because what we need here is a global approach and, not
a selective approach. But, more than that, isn't it about time that
Greenpeace and these other environmental bodies actually know when
they've kicked a goal? I mean they're all push and no pull. They're all
push on all these communities but when they actually get a win on
forest and they never know they've got one. They on their big
amorphous subjects. So so much for Green peace. Thank you for the
J Stewart Parker, AAP, the Marshall Islands raised the issue again
today of turning a couple of their islands into some sort of dump for
nuclear waste. I think the President also suggested there may be
some sort of compact among the Pacific Island countries on this issue.
What's been the reaction of the Forum to the question.
PM I specifically asked the President whether he was seeking any
endorsement by the Forum. He indicated no he wasn't That he was
simply telling the Forumr advisedly that he'd set up a national
commission to look at these issues. Now that is within the realm of his
national sovereignty and of course it's the Marshall's prerogative to
consider these issues but its another thing to seek support for them at
the Forum. That he didn't do.
J Paul Smith, Ten Network, Whilst some of the leaders have endorsed
your concern over environmental matters, they've also raised the
question of compensation and seem to be indicating that they'd be
looking to Western countries, such as Australia, to help with
compensation of environmental issues.
PM Well it was never raised with me at any stage, not at any stage. Thas
not to say Australia won't help and do what it can, where it can. But
and as you know, I mean in respect of as the case in point the Marovo
Lagoon in the Western Solomons Australia has In fact agreed to write
off the servicing of a certain amount of-debtas a way of actually
encouraging that to happen and in financially assisting albeit in a

modest way the Solomon Islands Government. But there hasn't been
any general approach by Prime Ministers or Heads of Government to
Australia about compensation.
J Chris Hammer, S05 Television. There's been quite some progress, as
you mentioned, on fishing and forestries but not on some of the other
issues outlined by Gordon Bilney earlier this year, namely population
growth and land reform. As Australian Prime Minister, are you
disappointed about that lack of progress?
PM I don't think you should see it as a lack of progress, I think everyone at
the Forums understands that these are problem issues for some
small island states but the conference had a theme to it and the theme
was Managing Resources and in that theme, we've sought in the two
day period of the conference to try and get some positive outcomes,
and the ones weve got Are very positive indeed and theyl require
work over the course of the year. Now, it may be at the next...
( inaudible)... thars: not to say that some of these other issues are not
being attended to by their national governments as time goes by, or it
may be that at the next Forum or the one after it, if we agree to
continue this, if you like, this focus on themes, that human resource
development education, population, et cetera may be a theme. But,
for the moment because there is an urgency about resource
exploitation resources an acute urgency resource exploitation,
and resource management was the theme, and it was of course
naturally to that we devoted our attention.
J Michael AFP, just to take you back to the Marshall Islands.
Although the President didn't seek endorsement of the Forum, did you
on behalf of Australia or did any of the Pacific leaders actively express
opposition to what he was proposing to you?
PM No because he was very politely advising the Forum of the fact that he
thought, given the fact that certain parts of the Marshall Islands had
been rendered by former nuclear testing as being uninhabitable, that
there may be a purpose and given the geological stability of the area,
in this study being undert aken. Well, these arre views, that's all they
are. These are views, but they are more than views from him, they are
advice that he set up a National Commission. This was not a debate
about the merits of this issue. It was a contribution to the preliminary
session, but I did-ask the President to be clear at the end, was he
seeking any endorsement by the Forum and he said no.
J Victor Larear from Mexico. Four countries from America and three
countries from South Pacific are members of APEC. Is there any
prospects of linking APEC with any organisation lik eFoufr

PM Well, Papua New Guinea is a member of APEC as from the next
meeting and of course Australia and Now Zealand are members of
APEC. So there is a fairly strong, if you like, some very clear
relationships there, between countries with South Pacific interests and
APEC so I've got no doubt that in any APEC context anything which
has a particularly South Pacific focus and needs to be put, there are
enough of us there to be able to put any view we think Is relevant to
the South Pacific
SCraig Skehan, AAP, Mr Keating, The Solomon Islands said they object
to a separate dialogue meeting with Taiwan being held down on the
Gold Coast rather than here in Brisbane, Is that a case of pandering to
the sensitivities of the PRC, and should organisations like the Forumn
allow differences between countries like Taiwan and the PRC to
interfere in normal discussions in AID programs and so o . n.
PM Well, we're the host of this meeting, and I think unusually as host we
are the first among a few who actually recognise the Government of
China as the Government of China, all China, and therefore, it
becomes germaine to any invitation we might be associated with, if not
issue, for Taiwan to come here. As you know, the PRO wanted any
dialogue with Tiwevan to take place in countries which recognise
Taiwan and outside of Australia. Now, as it turns out, we're having the
dialogue on the Gold Coast tomorrow, I think it is, and China will be
attending, that's the PRC will be attending the dialogue partners
meetings and will be attending tonight, the dinner which I am hosting
for dialogue partners and Pacific leaders, so I think honour is being
settled all the way around. I mean, China wanted the meeting outside
Australia, it isn't, they're still coming, Taiwan wanted it here, Wts not
getting its way, its down at the Gold Coast and I think thats a
reasonable compromise of interest and a reasonable outcome for
people who wanted benefit to from the dialogue.
J John Uri, Sydney Pacific News. Earlier on, Prime Minister, I raised the
question with Prime Minister Francis Hilly and the question was that
there is an agreement to provide 2 million dollars to the Solomon
Islands and he stipulated that there is a condition to that offer. Can
you stipulate what that condition is and also can you tell me whether
the Government was actually happy about that If there was any
condition attached to that offer.
PM No, I spoke to the Prime Minister some months ago saying that I was
concerned that one of the prospects for long term tourism in the
Solomons, that's the Marovo Lagoon area, may be deposited in some
way by forest practices and logging and that he said that this was a
concern of his and his Government's and the matter was essentially
left In his hands. What I said was that he also, at the same meeting.
approached me. about some outstanding loans to Australia, and I said
if he incurred costs in dealing with logging in the Marovo Lagoon area

we might meet him part of the way by carrying some of these charges
ourselves. Now, I said that to him. There's been a debate in the
Solomons; about this issue and the Prime Minister at his own behest
made an announcement yesterday saying there'd be a termination of
all logging in that area and then went on to make a further
announcement which you now have details of. Let me just say I
congratulate him for it, I think it shows a lot of leadership and this is the
kind of Government I think the Pacific needs and particularly a country
like the Solomons who now find themselves faced with unscrupulous
practices in logging.
J: Maniko Horokawa from Yomiyuri Shimbum, Japanese Newspaper.
Regarding the fisheries Issues, I've heard that not from the Japanese
side, but the countries that have bilateral agreements wittJapn on
fishing at the moment are quite happy with what they have, so, how
soon do you think that they would get into multilateral agreements, and
have you set any timetables?
PMV: No, just that there is a general view that multilateral management of
this fishery area will produce better results for the countries concerned
and for, those who buy the product Because, we won't reach a point
where we have over exploitation of certain fisheries, and a long term
decline of fish stocks, which, for instance we've seen with the southern
blue fin tuna, which is a very popular, large, species of tuna in Japan.
IWs now not as plentiful as it used to be, and countries which consume
a large level of fish in their diet and Japan is one, is, I think will be
well served by an approach which says, let's make sure that we are
thinking about the habits of t hese migratory fish. What are the
influences on them? How might we protect them? How do we
guaratee the stocks exist? And, the other thing, how do we get a
decent price for the product? Now, its all of that, I think which has
encouraged people to take the view. Now, some bilateral agreements
may suit individual countries, others may not. As a rule, they don't
because, their proceeds are very greatly diminished compared to
some other bilateral arrangements. Understandably they want to
improve these.
J: La Monde from New Caledonia. The Kanak people from New
Caledonia have expressed, since a few years, that they want to
become observers at the Forum. Has this been considered at any
stage? -And, the second thing, what do you think of the right wing not
answering the invitation at the Forum since they have been invited a
few years ago?
PM: Well, look can I just say, it was not discussed at the Forum although of
course we, the -FLNKS come as unofficial observers to the Forum, and
have on this occasi'on. I mean that's fine, that relationship, I think is
working well, and this all depends in the long run on domestic
outcomes in New Caledonia. I think the Forum in a sense is, we are

an interlocutor, we're not deciding, we're not playing a vital role, and
can't play a key role, in their political future.
J: Thank you Mr Keating, my name is Benito Falu from so much for
Greenpeace organisation. Just one question, are you going to honour
your commitment? Yes or no?
PM: I gave you an answer before, and that is that Greenpeace ought to
wake up to itself and work out where there's some value in the world
and not realise when Ws actually got a win like it has over the
weekend it just puts that straight in its pocket and goes onto the
next amorphous issue. Now, I think the Australian government has an
environment record, second to none in the western world. And, it
doesn't need to be kept up to the mark by Greenpeace. Nor are we
encouraged by the fact that a lot of the moderates have been largely
expunged from Greenpeace recently, which I don't think bodes well for
Greenpeace's influences on governments like Australia.
J: Mr Keating, are you concerned at Australia's willingness to train
Indonesian troops is in any way undermining..
PM: Well, I think we'll, I crossed the border yesterday, but I don't think I
should today.

Transcript 9303