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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 9356

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P.J. KEATING MP AND HIS EXCELLENCY MR GOH CHOK TONG, DOORSTOP, PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA, TUESDAY, 13 SEPTEMBER 1994

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: 13/09/1994

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 9356

PRIME MINISTER
TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P. J. KEATING MP
AND HIS EXCELLENCY MR GOH CHOK TONG, DOORSTOP,
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA, TUESDAY, 13 SEPTEMBER 1994
E& OE PROOF COPY
PJK: Well, the Prime Minister and I have had a chance of a discussion now
for over an hour and I wanted to take this opportunity again to say how
pleased I am to see him in Australia with a number of Ministers. The
relationship between Australia and Singapore grows more important as
the years go by and I was making the point to the Prime Minister, now
that Australia has really opened up its economy by reducing tariffs,
removing exchange controls, by investing abroad where the whole
culture of Australian business is now to go out rather than remain in,
the linkage with Singapore which is itself, of course, a very famous
trading entity is naturally a closer one. So, our interest is to improve
that closeness and the Prime Minister proposed this morning, and I've
agreed to develop a Singapore-Australia Business Council which we
think can help put partnerships together for developments and
investments by Australians in Singapore and Singaporeans in
Australia. And as well, do things together in third countries and here
the Prime Minister also proposed that we the Governments of
Australia and Singapore through our development organisations
invest in a fund which would do feasibility studies for joint participation
by our industrial companies in third markets. Because the thing about
Singapore is it's now highly developed in many fields in Australia,
businesses at the top of their market share, and it makes no sense to
be trying to expand businesses in some cases in saturated market
environments. So, the obvious thing is to look at the tremendous
potential of third markets and we think that Singapore and Australia
can do just that. So, what we call strategic linkages, we are going to
seek to do that.
We had a long discussion about APEC and our respective positions
going to the Bogor meeting. I think it is fair to say Prime Minister Goh
and I have a fairly close view on how we think APEC should develop

and included in that view is our very strong belief that we should give
President Soeharto every support in making the meeting a success.
Not just for him and for Indonesia, but for the region as a whole.
We've also discussed our defence relations and I am delighted with
the fact that they are progressing very reasonably, in fact quickly.
We'll soon start flying training for the Singaporean Airforce in Pearce
in Western Australia and we are speaking of further collaboration in
army training and as well as that in general exercises. So, I think, we
are both very happy at that development.
We discussed the proposal for closer integration of AFTA and
Australasia and that is something, I think, we see on the medium to
longer term agenda and, I think, we are both happy to see that
progress. The other thing we discussed at some length is the possibility of
tourism and tourism opportunities in Australia for Singaporean
investors, but also and most especially and importantly for the people
of Singapore, and particularly young people. To see young people
come to Australia and get to know the place and to be able to enjoy it
and to have facilities here that they can come to rather than simply find
themselves lost in the tourism market. That they have actually tied
facilities. So, we have discussed that and, I think, we intend to try and
do something about that and make it work and, I think, that is a really
encouraging thing for us to be doing. We have got our respective
airlines with Qantas and Ansett and Singapore Airlines already flying
with some frequency in and out of Singapore and it means, I think,
where Singaporeans are very strong in real estate, we can actually do
a lot here, I think, together in the tourism industry and particularly with
our young people.
At any rate, I would be pleased if the Prime Minister would say some
things to you and I'm sure he'll agree we will take some questions.
GOH: Yes, as you can see we have had very good, substantive discussions.
Prime Minister Keating has very ably summarised the main points
which we've agreed on. We have a very warm, friendly and solid
relationship. Not just between Australian and Singapore, but also on
the personal level between ourselves and between our Ministers.
The future looks good for us to work together in the many areas which
Prime Minister Keating has just outlined. I would be pleased to answer
any questions that you may have or you could ask questions too of the
Prime Minister.
J: this fund that you are referring to how much are you talking
about?

GOH: We are thinking of putting in AUS$ 1 million each and the fund will also
require participation by the companies concerned. It will be a three
way sharing 50 per cent by the joint venture company and 25 per
cent from Australia and 25 per cent from Singapore. It will serve as a
very concrete symbol of co-operation between Australian and
Singapore to encourage our business sectors to work together in third
countries.
J: Prime Minister Goh, you've arrived here just as the damaging shipping
strike has ended. In your perspective as being the head of one of the
major shipping nations in Asia, can Australia really compete when
we've still got these sorts of industrial problems?
GOH: Well, if your industrial problems continue then, of course, Australia
would find it more difficult to compete, but the Australians understand
the problem and, I think, the problems that you have will be solved. It's
got to be solved, otherwise you are going to be left in the back waters.
It will be solved.
PJK: I think it is worth adding Prime Minister, this is the first, we've only had
two of these generalised water front stoppages in our history and this
was a short one and it was essentially about the future of the
Australian National Line. But I think, the image of Australia abroad in
terms of its industrial relations should square with the general facts
and that is, say compared to a decade ago, industrial disputes are a
third of what they were. You cannot run a country with an inflation rate
of around 1 per cent unless the work force are productive and cooperative
and that's, of course, what we have here. But, people also
have a general interest in trying to mark out territory for themselves
and this was a strategic matter for the water front unions, but I think,
can I say I'm very glad they have gone back to work, but more
importantly, part of that has been the general new culture of Australia,
I think, which has sort of encouraged them to understand that this is
not the 1970s and they can't behave as though it is.
J: Mr Keating, given the increased defence links that you just talked
about, do you see any possibility for conflict given Singapore's arms
trade with places like Burma in the region?
PJK: No. I think that Singapore and Australia have been partners in
defence now way back to the Second World War and beforehand, and
since, with the 5-Power defence agreement, and we do many things
together for the intrinsic worth of lifting the proficiency and joint
operations of our respective defence forces, and the policies of the
government of Singapore in respect of it's relations with other
countries in the region is a matter for Singapore. I mean, our point is,
what is our relationship with Singapore? And everything in our
relationship with Singapore augers well for this defence relationship to
grow.

GOH: And may I add that we have a responsible arms sales policy.
J: Prime Minister Goh, do you... given the momentum now towards APEC,
does this leave Dr Mahathir's EAEC proposal out in the cold? If so,
how do you think he is going to extricate himself from that at the Bogor
meeting?
GOH: I have just met Dr Mahathir in Langkawi before I came here. He
believes in EAEC much more than APEC that's on public record, I'm
not revealing a secret and I think Dr Mahathir would still like to see
EAEC move one or two steps forward, and Singapore's position has
always been that we support EAEC provided it is kept consistent
provided that it doesn't undermine ASEAN and it is compatible with
APEC. To us, APEC is a very important organisation, and the EAEC
must not in any way affect the progress of APEC.
J: Prime Minister Goh, given that, would you support any moves at the
Bogor summit to set specific start and finish dates for free trade in the
region?
GOH: We should try and aim for that, but we should also be sensitive to the
other concerns, or concerns of the other countries. So we will
approach this with some elasticity in mind. It can be a range of dates,
starting from 2005 and ending 2020 for countries in various categories.
But we should aim for some dates.
PJK: I have made the points to my colleagues in this country, Prime
Minister, that the important thing is the start dates. The finish dates
tend to be something that local industries very quickly pick up the
changed environment and they arrive much more quickly than the
nominal end-points set by governments it's really about getting a
beginning.
J: In the light of that, Prime Minister, how early do you think you might be
able to get s start date? What's your best estimate?
PJK: Well, the big start is going to be the GATT ratifications. I mean, that's
when we start to see the barrier falling, and that is going to be 1
January ' 95. I think that's the... I'm sure the Prime Minister will have
heard from President Soeharto that one of his objectives is he thinks
one of the most useful that in the first instance, the very first instance
that APEC can do is that the APEC members declare that they are for
ratifying, quickly, the GATT undertakings.
J: Do you believe January' 95 is a date that might be able to be agreed at
Bogor?

PJK: I think that January ' 95 will certainly be the... a commitment by APEC
members, I think, to GATT ratifications, and that will start the protective
devices falling. I think we might leave it at that Prime Minister.
J: Prime Minister are you pleased with Senator Evans's move to the
Lower House?
PJK: Well, that's a domestic, purely a domestic issue, and I'm not here to go
around the world for sport, so thank you Prime Minister.
GOH: Thank you.
ends.

Transcript 9356