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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 9483


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: 16/02/1995

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 9483

CALLER: Welcome Mr Keating, and I think half of these people that have rung
up should go to the UK and live under a conservative government and
then they would know it's not easy. This is a very, very good country
under Mr Keating's government, it's absolutely magnificent and that's
all I would like to say. Welcome Paul.
HS: Did you hear that?
PM: Thank you very much.
HS: That was a nice introduction.
PM: Absolutely.
HS: The rest of it wasn't all so good. Thank you very much for your call.
Look, the Prime Minister has joined me in the studio early, how are
PM: I am good Howard, thanks.
HS: Where have you been is a question I must ask you before the news
because we haven't seen you here for 11 months, where have you
PM: I would have come in August, but I..
HS: What happened?
PM: Got a bad attack of the flu as you know.
HS: Well, people are making much of this fact that you appear to show us
little regard.

PM: What they should be making much of is the fact that the economy has
grown here 10 per cent in one year. It took 150 to 200 years to get so
big then it got 10 per cent bigger in one year. Now, that is what I am
here for, that's what I do. I am about making Australia grow more
strongly and the last election the Government was rehired to restart
the growth and employment. That's what we have done. That's what
the community have got to worry about. Is he over there getting me a
job? Answer yes.
HS: Well, Richard Court would say he has done all that because it's all
happened since his government came to power.
PM: So, in other words the rest of the growth around the economy is all his
too? In Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland..
HS: No, it's Jeff Kennett in Victoria and..
PM: What has happened, it's come off the Federal government's policies.
This State has been growing, it's had 10 per cent economic growth in
this last year which is just phenomenal and 5 per cent employment
growth and 2 per cent inflation. It's come off the back of the Federal
government's policies.
HS: But, would you agree, I don't want to labour this too much, but there is
a perception that if you are not here you don't care, and you agree
there is a perception?
PM: Perception from all the people who generally try to give us a boot in
the tail at their ballot box, but from the people who are serious and are
on side I don't think that is..
HS: Do you know we are parochial Western Australians?
PM: I know, but why should you be? I mean here you are, you're
contributing a very large proportion of the country's growth. I mean
much of the economic policy for the last decade had been set up in
Canberra for Western Australia, the exporting states of Western
Australia and Queensland and we have got here Carmen Lawrence
and Kim Beazley and Peter Cook and our Ministers who are constantly
here and putting me and the Cabinet in touch with Western Australia.
I mean this is a we have got modern communications, it is important,
I think, for Prime Minister's to visit parts of the country. I try to do that,
but as you know to come west it's at least 2 days. So, it's 2 days out of
any week and in this case it's 3, so given the pressure of the job it's
not easy to do it all the time.
HS: Well, I have got lots more questions to ask you and we will do that
after the news and we will take some talkback, as much as we can.

The Prime Minister is in the studio with me and it's good to have him
here after a gap of 11 months so we have got a lot of catch up on,
haven't we?
PM: It's your call.
HS: We have the Prime Minister in the studio today, he is here in Western
Australia for a three day visit and some of the issues which I know that
most people want discussed are the Mabo land rights legislation, how
it is going to impact on Western Australia, there is health and housing
of Aboriginal people, there is the upcoming federal Budget, there has
been a huge blue over road funding and a nice old set too over that,
petrol prices and the fact that the Federal Government takes about 33
cents in the litre and the suggestion that it might take more and forest
management. Prime Minister, will you be discussing all or some of
those issues while you are here and who will you talk to about that?
PM: Well, you if you want to Howard.
HS: Thank you.
PM: Go for it straight away.
HS: That puts me ahead of the Premier.
PM: Well, in these things you probably are.
HS: Good, thanks very much. Now, you made the point before the no
I'm happy about that you made the point before the news that to
come across here takes at least two days out of your time. The
Premier, I guess, would contend that if he is going to go across to
Canberra or his Ministers and see their counterparts, the same thing
applies to them.
PM: Well, that is true except there is half a dozen States and moving
around them requires a substantial commitment of time, but
nevertheless this is what we are all happy to do.
HS: Now, can we expect, although I don't want to make everything of this,
but more regular visits from you in the future?
PM: It depends what the time is, when the Parliament is sitting, what the
issues are. I mean, last year we had a May Budget we changed it for
the time from August, we've always had August Budgets since the
war. Last year we changed that and that changed a lot of the
schedules. I had a number of overseas commitments, of course, one
of them was APEC in Indonesia in November and a number of others

in the second half of the year and it is just pulling the better part of a
week out, you know, you can do it, but you can only do it at the cost of
basically keeping ones eye on the ball.
HS: This business about the Premier won't see you and you won't find time
for him, can you appreciate that electorate thinks this is a little bit
PM: Well look, it is on his part. I mean, what normally happens to me is if I
am coming to Melbourne Jeff Kennett will call be a week earlier or
something and say ' I hear you are down next week, have you got any
time?' and I'll ' yes', or John Fahey the same, and we'll have a meeting
and hardly anybody knows and we'll sit down and do a bit of business.
What Richard Court does is firstly go on your radio station then write
me, essentially, a sort of rude letter, then release it to the newspapers
and then send it to me and I'm supposed to say ' oh, yes, here I am
Richard, now what do you want me to discuss?' I mean he has got to
be joking.
HS: So, you are saying that if he had written a..
PM: If he was dinkum, if he is genuinely interested in the issues of his State
and his people he would ring me and say ' look, you are coming over
next week' he knew I was coming.
HS: He did know you were coming?
PM: Oh yes, because we had invited him to the Regional Economic
Development Organisation launch yesterday. He knew I was coming
and if had said to me ' look, can you make some time for me' I would
have seen him. But, if there is a genuine wish to talk about some
things, but you see, there is essentially no co-operation from him and
what he does is he comes on your radio station, then he says he wants
to see me. He then publishes a letter to the newspapers and then he
sends a copy to me. So, he is not serious and if he is not serious why
should I if he is in to playing games, I'll lend him a little snakes and
ladders set before I leave. Another thing about him is, the terrible
thing about him is he'll probably use it. In the quiet time up there he
would probably get into it.
HS: OK, but are we going to be punished for all of this? The West
PM: No, just understand this, let me just take..
HS: You don't hate us because we have got a Liberal government do you?
PM: Look, don't confuse my association and good wishes and work for the
Western Australian community with what I do with Richard Court. If he

wants to, essentially, deprecate their interests and discount them by
these sorts of antics the point I made before the news Howard is this,
Western Australia grew by 10 per cent economic growth last year. In
other words, if we kept that up for 10 years, everything that has been
created in the 150 to 200 years here would be recreated in full in
years. Can you just imagine what speed of growth that is.
HS: But, you won't let that happen anyway.
PM: But, 10 per cent economic growth and 5 per cent employment growth
and 2 per cent inflation, the growth and the change in Western
Australia is coming off the policies of the national federal Labor
government. Now, they are the things I mean essentially, in the last
election campaign the issues were all about growth and employment. I
said that we would make the economy grow again and we would get
employment growth started. We started that with the One Nation
package where we started spending money in 1992. When private
spending was down we lifted public spending. Now, they are things
that matter most to West Australians. I mean, this is a big primary
exporting State, it has got minerals, it has got agriculture, it is now
selling ships, ferries, sophisticated metals like the place I was at
yesterday. That can only happen with the competitiveness, the low
inflation, the exchange rate, the wage outcomes coming from the
federal government's policies.
HS: Sure, but just when it looks as though Australia is going to take off and
we record a growth rate of 6.4 per cent, which in the Asian region
wouldn't be considered anything special, you've loped the top off it
with interest rate rises 2 and 3/ 4 per cent in five months.
PM: But what we want is a sustainable rate of growth. Let's record this fact
HS: We just want to enjoy ourselves.
PM: Yes, but we want to continue to enjoy ourselves. We don't want to
enjoy ourselves for one year, we want to continue to enjoy ourselves.
This is the fastest growing, the economy of Australia, is the fastest
growing western world economy by a big margin.
HS: But, not as high as the Asian region countries?
PM: But, the Asian region do not have a developed economy like this. I
mean, for instance let's take Malaysia which is an important economy
in this area. It's GDP is $ 40 billion, their whole national output is
billion. It is growing at about 8 per cent a year. Australia is $ 400
billion and we are growing at 5.5 to 6 per cent. You try and lift a
platform of $ 400 billion and make it grow at 5.5 to 6 per cent. There is
or $ 30 billions worth of wealth there.

HS: OK, but what's sustainable, I mean what will you allow to happen?
PM: Well, if this was a European country and we were having a discussion
on European radio, the average rate of growth would be 1.5 per cent
for the nation. Here in Western Australia it is 10 per cent. In the
whole of Australia it is 6 per cent. But what we are saying is to keep
that going we have got to be able to produce the goods and services
so it is not spilling into imports. In other words, we can't grow at a
pace where we can't provide the product for it.
HS: But, how would you like to be working in the housing/ building industry
and all of a sudden interest rates go up 2 and 3/ 4 per cent in five
months, they might go up more in the next few months then suddenly
your work has stopped, that is what's happening.
PM: It will slow down..
HS: No, it's stopped in many cases.
PM: But, overall it will slow down and it is coming off a massive high which,
in the large, is unsustainable. But, if you take, I'm not sure what the
medium priced accommodation market is like here in Perth, I certainly
know about Sydney. Sydney is now becoming over supplied, hugely
over supplied with medium priced, medium density housing. So, public
policy slows it down and it makes the recovery more affordable so that
when we are talking about 1996 and 1997 and 1998 we've still got
good growth and low inflation. What we don't want to see is the
growth go at such a pace that it blows the inflation rate and we are
back into difficulties again.
HS: Ok, but can I ask you what is sustainable, what would the Government
allow to happen on a regular basis 4 per cent, 5 per cent, what?
PM: We are saying, our target is to get to an unemployment we think it is
feasible to get to an unemployment rate of about 5 per cent by the year
HS: That is your target is it?
PM: Well, that we think is within our reach and you can only do that
growing roughly at around 4 per cent a year nationally. Now, some
States will do less than 4, others will do higher, but the average will 4
per cent. At the moment the average is 6 per cent. So, we are slowing
it down for the good of everybody. In other words, it is to everybody's
benefit that their job security is not an issue, that they can look forward
to their children getting jobs and they can look forward to their savings
not been torn apart..

HS: So, these are the interest rate rises we have to have are they?
PM: Remember how low they have been. I mean, we took interest rates
down to Reserve Bank cash rates, bill rates of 4.5 to 5 per cent and
they are now around 5 per cent. They are now around 8 per cent, but
they are still low..
HS: But, we do remember how high..
PM: The last 20 years, I mean they are very low rates.
HS: We do remember how high home loan interest rates got under
Treasurer Paul Keating, don't we about 18 per cent.
PM: No, they never got to 18 per cent.
HS: Maybe I went to the wrong bank.
PM: Well, maybe you did Howard, but they never got to 18 per cent. But,
at the moment they are around 10 per cent. Now, all of that reduction
in interest rates meant a big lift in take home pay to people because
they weren't paying it out on mortgages. So, what we have done is put
a modest increase in there which will actually slow the economy and
make the growth more sustainable for people and give it low inflation.
As I said a week or so ago, it is a premium that Australians are paying
to guarantee the longevity of growth. But, the core point is it is the
Labor government in Canberra that delivered this growth to Australia
and to Western Australia and getting these big competitiveness issues
right and the linkages into Asia and the business which is coming
down to Western Australia from Asia is in large part because of the
Federal government's policies.
HS: Can we talk about the leaking of the Budget ' wish list'. A lot of people
think it is a bit rich for your government to be calling in the cops when
back in 1980..
PM: No, I'm not calling any cops.
HS: Kim Beazley did didn't he?
PM: No, no the police do all these things they make all this clear
themselves. If confidential government property is stolen, the police
investigate it, but they always have.
HS: So, who called them in?
PM: That would be done by the Commissioner.

HS: So, no politician, no one in government said ' look, the Budget papers
have been leaked, or the wish list, will you investigate it', they just did
PM: Obviously the police have been notified.
HS: By who?
PM: Well, they would be notified by the Secretary of the Department that
had them stolen, no doubt.
HS: And the Minister Mr Beazley, none of the other Ministers would have..
PM: Look, don't fall for this line, Howard, that the Liberal's have..
HS: I'm just asking questions.
PM: I know, but you are repeating a line from the Liberals, you know, the
Costello line " Keating has put the police on us". The fact is they
have got Budget documents which have been stolen and when
something of core value to the nation's interest has been stolen,
pilfered, the Commonwealth police will always..
HS: It is only a wish list isn't it?
PM: It is a wish list by Departments, but it still is a document from the
process of the Budget.
HS: But, back in 1980 Treasurer John Howard's entire Budget was leaked.
Now, I didn't hear anyone on your side complaining about that.
PM: No, but it wasn't leaked to us. It was leaked to Laurie Oakes, a
journalist. This has been leaked to the Opposition. This is a
completely different matter, I mean, this has been leaked to the Liberal
HS: So, you think there was nothing wrong with what happened in 1980.
PM: Well, I don't believe the Budget I think it is a dreadful thing that the
Budget should be revealed. It was a dreadful thing then and it is now,
but it was done then by somebody to a journalist. This has been given
to the Liberal party and then they want to pretend that they are not
stolen documents. Well, of course they are stolen documents.
HS: There has been a 40 per cent let's get on to road funding because
this is another issue that does certainly affect Western Australia and
the figure that I have been shown shows a 40 per cent reduction in
Commonwealth outlays for roads in Western Australia during the past
three financial years. Can you justify that?

PM: That is not true. The base funding, I mean Kim Beazley made this
clear. Look, Richard Court has put on a 4 cents per litre petrol tax for
his own reasons, for himself and his budget.
HS: Nothing that needs $ 100 million extra to spend on roads.
PM: It is nothing to do with the Commonwealth, nothing what so ever. The
base funding is in fact gone up, well, I'll read from 1991 to 1994-5,
$ 149 million, $ 155 million, $ 136 million, $ 149 million, $ 153 million, so
in the last year it has gone up from $ 149 million to $ 153 million. What
has come out of it are the One Nation spending which I said to you a
few moments ago, which we introduced in 1992 to give the economy a
boost and then withdraw it. The blackspot program which was part of
that as well, that is the black spots which are those parts of particular
roads where we have a lot of traffic accidents and when we want to
give the economy a bit of a kick along we spend money to try and
move these things out and we have a program to try and take out the
most dangerous. That program came to and end, but the base funding
and as Kim Beazley may also have made clear, that in terms of the
Grants Commission recommendation this is the money which is paid
to the States by the Commonwealth led to the inclusion of road
maintenance expenditure in its assessments, along with various road
related charges. He said this in a letter to Richard Court. The
Commissioner accordingly recommended positive adjustments to
Western Australia by amounts in the order of $ 69 million in 1993/ 94
and $ 72 million in 1994/ 95.
So, in other words, Richard Court has bunged on a 4 cents per litre
petrol tax by himself, for himself, for his budget.
HS: Are you going to add on any more to your petrol tax take in the
PM: Well, I'm not going to be talking..
HS: Can't you talk about what you are not going to do in the Budget?
PM: No, the government is not there is a Budget process and the Budget
will be produced in May. The Cabinet has not met on the Budget or
any of the core, main issues of the Budget, so I am not in a position to
be saying yea or nay to anything.
HS: Not even nay.
PM: Because it is just not intelligent to say nay. I mean, people ask me for
three months, I'd be saying yea, nay, yea, nay all around the place.

HS: All right now Mabo you know that's a big issue over here you would
easily have gleaned that. Major projects, which I'm told by the
Government here, have been held up by Native Title legislation
include completion of the Ord River scheme, new hotels proposed for
parts of the Kimberley, tourism projects in Broome no-one wants to
invest until they know whether or not the Native Title claims are
legitimate or not?
PM: Well you know what's happened Richard Court's Government is the
only Government in Australia not to sign up under Mabo. Now isn't it
interesting he says this is all Canberra, and Keating and the Keating
Government, but why did Jeff Kennett and John Fahey and Dean
Brown and others introduce State Legislation to dove-tail in with the
Commonwealth Native Title Act?
HS: Maybe because it didn't affect them?
PM: No. It does affect them. And the same with Queensland they have
done it to provide certainty to investors. The lack of certainty comes
from the wilful rebuttal of national interests which comes from the
Western Australian legislation. But let me just tell you this Howard
this is the serious part of it Richard Court has now issued 8000
grants of interest in land over the last year, over which a large part of
which may be unlawfully issued. That is, they have been issued
ultravires of the Native Title Act. Now I wrote to him one year ago
saying to him: " if you issue these grants of interest, be warned that you
do it at your own expense at your own behest and at your own
expense and that you will put the interests of the people you are
giving these land grants to at risk". The prospect is, Howard, in this
next year this coming financial year there will be another 8000. So,
by the time the High Court hands down its' decision on the Western
Australian challenge to the Commonwealth Mabo Act...
HS: When will that be, by the way?
PM: Probably in the next couple of months he'll have in the pipeline
somewhere between 8000-16,000 grants of interest in land. Now,
some of these are exploration licences 3000 of the 8000 are
exploration licences and they are not actually title. But there is 5000
titles there. Now not all of them, of course, will be over aboriginal land.
But some substantial number will be, and...
HS: What's going to happen?
PM: Well the day it all goes sour on him, you will then be on your program
saying to me " this is all the Commonwealth's fault". So I'm just telling
you, there is a lot of villainy here on the part of the West Australian
Government and a lot of wilful villainy, putting the interests of Western
Australians and West Australian businesses at risk by granting interest

in land which is ultra vires of a Commonwealth Act of Parliament
agreed to by every other state bar Western Australian.
HS: But he would take some comfort from yesterdays decision of the Native
Title Tribunal it ruled against a claim by the Waanyi people for 250
hectares of land in North-West Queensland he would say that is the
beginning of the end of the Commonwealth's case?
PM: No. No it's not....
HS: He would say that.
PM: Yes, I know. But what he would say would be wrong. What that
decision reveals is pretty much as we have been saying.. . we say in our
Act. That is, where there has been a previous grant of interest in land
that is, a freehold title, or even a pastoral lease that extinguishes
the Native Title. Now, that is what the Native Title tribunal announced
yesterday that there was some other interest granted over that land
which extinguishes Native Title....
HS: But they're now going to go to the High Court over it. I mean, what's
the point of the Native Title Tribunal?
PM: but there was always the question about whether pastoral leases
extinguished Native Title. We have asserted this in the preamble to
the Act, but no doubt, on the first decision which this thing is some
interest group will take it to the high Court to have it cleared up once
and for all.
HS: But they might just keep doing it all the time. Every time they lose they
go to the High Court? I thought...
PM: No. Because there will always be a test case on some of the principles,
and that will be that. And there is no point in going back twice
because the High Court won't take the cases on. But that buttresses
my side of the argument what I have said all the way through is, when
he had the scare campaign " oh, we got all these pastoral leases, and
those people will lose their pastoral leases", and we have said " no, no.
Our presumption is that pastoral leases extinguish the native title".
And what yesterday's decision does is buttress to Commonwealth the
Labor Government's case. But what he is doing is something
altogether different he is issuing, willy-nilly every week, grants every
week grants of interest in land which are probably in the main,
unlawfully issued.
HS: All right, lets go to talkback you have got about 10 minutes left, so
David is you first caller good morning David. The Prime Minister is
here and he is listening to you.

C: Good morning Mr Keating.
PM: How are you David?
C: I'm just wondering there is a lot of emphasis placed on looking after
the family in the Social Security safety nets I believe the forgotten
people of the community are the single unemployed, and when you are
talking about living off $ 145 per week, and after paying $ 110 for your
weekly rent, you know, we're talking absurd living standards and I'm
just wondering can the single unemployed please get a better deal, Mr
PM; David, let me tell you, you are far from being forgotten. Last year we
introduced the largest policy change in any western country with the
White Paper on unemployment, called Working Nation. Working Nation
is a job compact for those who are long-term unemployed. That is, the
Commonwealth will give you work and a job subsidy, in return for an
unemployed person taking it. That is for the long-term unemployed.
For the shorter term unemployed, we are paying unemployment
benefits, we are seeking to encourage people into training but as well
as that, we are creating so many jobs. Since the election which is
just 2 years ago next month we have 496,000 jobs in this country-just
on half a million jobs in 2 years. And in Western Australia, the
employment growth rate in the last year was 4.7% just under
That is a huge number of jobs. So in terms of the commitments which
the Government and I made in the last election that is, not to forget
the unemployed, and to focus on the creation of jobs and to give
people job security we had the largest fall in unemployment in this
last calendar year ever recorded in Australia The
unemployment rate came down from 10.7% to which was the
biggest calendar year fall on record. So, we're finding the jobs, we're
trying to train people to take jobs, and to give them labour market
programs and work subsidies, and we're doing it for the long-term
unemployed by giving them a compact you take the job, we'll give you
the job and the job subsidy.
HS: All right David, thanks for your call. Paul's next he wants to talk
about the flag. Good morning Paul.
C: Good morning Howard, good morning Mr Keating.
PM: How are you, Paul?
C: I'm a young person in a young country, and I respect the office of
Prime Ministership, unfortunately you have lost my respect in one
particular area, and that is being your public denigration of our
symbols of history and tradition. I believe that in a young country such
as ours, these should be given nothing less than the highest regard,

and the way that you have gone about things has been a particularly
damaging form of vandalism.
PM: You think you can't trust an Australian as our Head of State. You're a
young Australian, but you are saying to me that you think we shouldn't
have an Australian person as our Head of State? Is that right?
C: That's my question and I'm sure Howard would be pleased maybe
an answer could get us an answer would get us on the 6 o'clock news
tonight. And that is will you give a firm guarantee here and now that
nothing less than a constitutional referendum be held to invoke any
change in the flag? It's quite simple....
PM: Let me just make this point I know what is simple and what isn't, and
let me make this clear to you. The flag is ancillary to the main point,
and that is Australia's constitutional arrangements....
HS: It's like the anthem, isn't it?
PM: . that's right. It's a representational thing, but the core matter is
should we be borrowing the monarch of another country not
withstanding the respect which I hold the Queen in, which is
substantial regard on a personal basis, and for the job she has done
with this country over time. But as a young country as you have put it
we can't engage Asia in particular and walk around truly representing
ourselves while the Head of State of Australia is the Sovereign of
Great Britain. Now, your view is a very conservative view for a young
C: How are you going....
PM: . and I think your the one out of step not me. I mean, I would be very
surprised if your view is held I'm not surprised, I can tell you your
view is a minority view among Australians.
C: I asked the question I agree that you want to change how are you
going to do it?
PM: There is only one way to do it by constitutional referendum. A
majority of electors in a majority of states. What we have said is let's
have our., our objective is to Australia see Australia become a republic
by the year 2000, let's have a national debate. I raised all this openly,
publicly in a policy speech in the last election 2 years ago, we now
have a national debate of substance it's being talked about all the
time and at some point of time, the Government will put a referendum
to the public, and it will need to be carried by a majority of electors in a
majority of states. But let me tell you this, even the Western Australian
Government has commissioned and this is Mr Court's Government

HS: The Constitutional Commission...
PM: yes, the Constitutional Commission said there would be no problem
in their view in terms of the federation if there was a change to an
Australian republic.
HS: But if there is a change in Government which you don't want to
happen do you think we would get that referendum? If there is a
change at the next election within the next 12 months will we still get
the referendum?
PM: Well I don't think there will be, and
HS: I thought you would say that.
PM: . and therefore, we will be putting... . continuing this debate.
HS: All right. Trish Townsend is on the line, I believe she is with the Forest
Protection Society yes Trish? Big issue for the Prime Minister, this.
C: Yes indeed. Good morning Prime Minister.
PM: How are you Trish?
C: All right. Look, just a word of thanks for your recent efforts to try and
help resolve the crisis facing the timber industry, and the rural
communities, in WA and elsewhere. Mr Keating, in your latest
statement on this issue of woodchipping, you say that in the future,
export woodchips forests can only come from forests that have been
assessed by under a Regional Forest Agreement between the
Commonwealth and the states. I just have two questions the first is
are you aware that in Western Australia we already have such an
agreement in the southern forest region, and that a joint assessment
between the Australian heritage commission and the Department of
CALM has already taken place? And secondly, most of the timber
harvesting areas or logging coupes withdrawn by your Government
for re-assessment have already been assessed under the joint
agreement between CALM and the AFC, so will your Government as
promised in writing by your Environment Minister, Senator John
Faulkner, give full faith and credit to the agreement between CALM
and the AFC, and allow access to those timber harvesting areas?
PM: I think we continue to recognise the worth of CALM, but the
assessments we're doing at the moment are wider, and includes
national state values as well as others, and I think that is one of the
issues which need to be taken into account. We remain committed to
the National Forest Policy statement, and the commitments in the One
Nation document, and I think the quicker we get to a system . for the

benefit of the listeners who don't understand all these terms, what we
have had in the past is a compartment by compartment assessment of
whether woodchips should be allowed from particular places. We
have said the best way to run the forests is not to have a debate over
an area of 150 square meters at a time, but lets have representative
reserves of trees, of species, of forests, and then the balance of it can
be logged. That's what the National Forest Policy Statement says, and
we want to move to Regional Forest Agreements across the country
with clear definitions which include national estate values as well as
others, and when we have got that, we will have a sensible
industry...... first of all we will do this: we'll have, I think, what most
Australians want that is, the important stands of trees protected, the
trees which have got heritage and national estate values will be
protected, but at the same time we will have the basis for a sustainable
timber industry, and not have this internecine battle over small
compartments of trees every year under these annual licence
renewals. Now that's where we're heading this is what I think will be
the value coming from this debate, and it should have happened
years ago.
HS: Could it have been handled better?
PM: It's about the issues there are smaller... we are seeing smaller and
smaller reserves of pristine trees. The smaller it gets, the more the
environment movement gets agitated about it, and the smaller it is the
more the loggers want to basically take what's left. So, I believe that
we are not a long way away from a plantation based and a regrowth
forest based sustainable timber industry. But we have to protect the
important stands of trees. Now part of the problem of this debate,
Howard, has been that some people in the environment movement
and some in the Wilderness Society have run around saying " there is
1300 compartments or coupes which are pristine stands of trees, and
the Commonwealth Government is not protecting them, and they're
desecrating them" that is just not true.
HS: Well some of them have already been logged?
PM: Exactly. And that is why of that 1300 that some people in the
Wilderness Society are going on about, probably less than 500 are
important stands of trees, and others have been logged once or twice,
or completely logged, in the last half a dozen or 10 years. So, while a
lot of Australians conscientiously do want the Commonwealth... or they
do want to see their forests protected, they have got to know that the
lead for them will not always be coming from the Wilderness Societies
of this world. It will only come from the people who want the balance
between looking after the important trees, and maintaining the forest
products industry which of course we should be well able to do.

Transcript 9483