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Transcript of news conference, Canberra Boys' Grammar School, Canberra



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P R IM E M IN IS T E R

TRANSCRIPT OF NEWS CONFERENCE, CANBERRA BOYS' GRAMMAR SCHOOL, CANBERRA - 26 SEPTEMBER 1991

E & OE - PROOF ONLY

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what information do you have from Iraq? Is there anything new?

PM: I've spoken this morning to Senator Evans - he rang me from New York - he had spoken to both Secretary of State Baker and to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Jim Baker had indicated to him and asked to have him convey

to me that the United States regarded the situation with the utmost seriousness and that we should know that and that they will stay in contact with us. The Secretary-General of the United Nations had just spoken with the Iraqi representative and had conveyed to them the seriousness with which the United Nations views this situation. So I think I

can sum that up by saying that the very strong firm position which has been taken by the United States is itself a reflection I believe of the view of the United Nations and the international community simply will not tolerate the

abuse by Saddam Hussein of the decisions of the United Nations.

JOURNALIST: How close do you think we are to UN military action?

PM: I can't answer that but I do appreciate the fact that the United States have indicated that they will stay in touch with us. I can simply say to the Australian community that as soon as I can say something, if there is something to be said, then of course I will have a conference and convey that information.

JOURNALIST: Would the HMAS Sydney be involved in the ...?

PM: It's too early to go to particulars.

JOURNALIST: The position of the two Australians remains unchanged, Prime Minister?

PM: Yes.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, on another related area, Yugoslavia, what movement has taken place at the UN ...?

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PM: Well I'm very, very pleased and proud on behalf of Australia that what has happened there is . . . As you know, we took the initiative in that area. There has now been a meeting of the United Nations Security Council and they've passed, unanimously, resolution 713. The elements of that

resolution are these: firstly, that the Security Council has called for an immediate cessation of hostilities. Secondly, they have commended the Europeans for their

efforts and asked them to continue. Third, they have asked the Secretary-General to investigate and report to the Security Council as soon as possible. And, fourthly, they

have imposed an arms embargo. So I think Australia is entitled to be proud of the initiative that we've taken there and I 'm certainly pleased with the strength of the decision of the United Nations Security Council on this matter.

JOURNALIST: What effect do you think that arms embargo will have now, Mr Prime Minister? There's been a lot of fighting already and there's a lot of arms ...

PM: Well obviously the passing of that decision and the imposing of that arms embargo won't have any immediate effect. I mean, there are obviously considerable quantities of arms there and in a sense we hope that it will be

irrelevant in that the processes of bringing about a peaceful resolution of this, now strengthened by the intervention of the Security Council, we hope will create a situation where in a sense that will be irrelevant.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, would it be appropriate now for Australia to increase aid to Yugoslavia or ... to Croatia . . .?

PM: No. In regard to aid for humanitarian purposes I've made it quite clear that we will stay in touch as we have been with the International Committee of the Red Cross. We have already made a decision as you know to make a

significant amount of aid available. If it becomes necessary to increase that we'd of course consider it.

JOURNALIST: On a domestic issue - the super summit on today. Employers have bagged it as a public relations exercise and they say there's no discussion on the levy just its implementation. How are you going to come about getting

- achieving what you want with them so hostile?

PM: Well in the end we govern the country and not employer organisations. We are serious in wanting to have discussions and negotiations with them. If they've come to this with a negative attitude as perhaps they have by what you are saying in some comments that I've read, I don't

think it's a very sensible way to approach it. We're approaching it with good will and good intent. I hope they'll make a significant input in the discussions and I think my Ministers will adopt an attitude which should ensure that they do that. If they don't want to make a positive contribution then that's up to them.

JOURNALIST: Martin Ferguson described it as a day of reckoning, do you agree with that assessment?

PM: Well, day of reckoning, I don't know whether that's exactly the phrase. I mean, I have no objection to him using it. But what it is about as far as we're concerned is conveying to the community and its major organisations that

this Government is serious about bringing in a system of superannuation which is going to attack a problem which we must do now. We've got to now, in 1991, deal with the real problems that are going to be emerging through the rest of

this decade and, more importantly, into the next century because we're going to have a massive change in the demographic and age composition of our population. We're

going to have fewer people in employment supporting more and more people who are retired. Now if we don't make the decisions now to meet that demographic fact then we'll pay a very high price. So it is the day of reckoning in the sense

that we are making it clear that we are serious, we're going to legislate, we want to do that in a way which involves the greatest cooperation and input from all who'll be involved. Okay, thanks.

JOURNALIST: About that tyre factory.

PM: About that tyre factory. About two years too late, darling.

ends