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Transcript of news conference, Radio 2KY, Sydney



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PRIM E M IN IS TE R

TRANSCRIPT OF NEWS CONFERENCE, RADIO 2KY, SYDNEY 18 SEPTEMBER 1991

E & OE - PROOF ONLY

JOURNALIST: Are you happy with that Mr Hawke?

PM: Yes. Were you?

JOURNALIST: There were no questions about Mr Keating. That was somewhat surprising, don't you think?

PM: It just shows that it's not an issue, doesn't it.

JOURNALIST: Well considering Senator Richardson could have been allied to Mr Keating earlier on ...

PM: You heard what Senator Richardson said at the end of the program. I think it said it all.

JOURNALIST: Did you discuss it off air at all? Did you say you weren't going to talk about it or not?

PM: No, I had no discussion with Graham Richardson about the format of the program at all, none.

JOURNALIST: Were you surprised that he invited you on the program?

PM: No. We've been friends for a very long period of time. He obviously thought it would be good for his program to have the Prime Minister on. This is a good Labor station and I thought it would be a good thing to go on. So it was mutual interest.

JOURNALIST: When was the decision made not to go to South Africa? When did you decide?

PM: Just within the last few days. I would like to have gone if the criteria that I'd set myself all the way along had been satisfied. Those criteria were that there should be a continuing, some irreversible, discernible series of decisions which were moving towards the process of interim

arrangements and preparations for the Constitutional Conference that would be necessary for the transition to power. Now while great things have been done by the Government of South Africa, and it would be churlish not to

acknowledge it, the process hasn't been as rapid and as

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determined as I think we all would have liked. Now in those circumstances I didn't think it was appropriate to go. But as I say, I'm looking forward to, I understand there will be a visit from Pik Botha, the Foreign Minister. I would very much like to talk to him before I go to CHOGM. Australia is going to be at the forefront of trying to ensure that there

is as rapid as possible a lifting of sanctions consistent with the responsibility we must have for ensuring that the processes of reform go on in South Africa.

JOURNALIST: How much did Gareth Evans' bad reception affect your decision?

PM: You're out of touch with the realities. I mean Gareth Evans didn't have a bad reception. What happened was that you had an attack upon him by the Zulu organisation, Inkatha, and Buthelezi, were I think rather ill-mannered in

their reception of him. You had a public release of things that he said privately to a security bloke. But of course subsequent events in South Africa entirely vindicated the position of my Foreign Minister. So there is no overhang of any suggestion that he had a bad reception or did other than what he always does wherever he goes - that' s an excellent

job for his country.

JOURNALIST: Just back to the program Prime Minister. Do you think there was a good rapport between you and Senator Richardson?

PM: Well I mean I think so, but you were watching it. You could see. You can make your judgement about that. I think we were comfortable.

JOURNALIST: Are you happy with your popularity figures out today?

PM: Well I never get carried away by polls. It would be totally dishonest for me to say that I don't look at them with interest. Of course I look at them with interest. I'm pleased that they're moving well for me and the Party. But, you know, through all this period of the last few months when there's been a lot of concentration on whether the Government is going well and the leadership thing, I've just had one consideration in mind and that is that I put my head down and get on with doing the job that I'm elected to do. What the people of Australia want from Bob Hawke is that he governs and that's what I 've been trying to do. To some extent I think that seems to be reflected in the judgements of the people.

JOURNALIST: The dollar is doing well today. Is it going to continue?

PM: When you say the dollar's doing well -JOURNALIST: ... strong today.

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PM: - don't just make the judgement that a steadily increasing dollar is all good. I mean it is very interesting to note the judgement that's being made by the world about this country. I know it must be disturbing for

the Opposition who want to hear all bad news about Australia, about their country. It's something that annoys me more about the Opposition than anything else. They gleefully seize -upon any bad news about the country. So

they can't be too pleased with the fact that the world is making positive judgements about us. But we don't want to see a steadily increasing dollar, going up all the time. Because while it has the plus side of being good from an

inflationary point of view, because it means that our imports are cheaper, it nevertheless also means that the returns to our exporters in dollar denominated contracts go down. So we want to see a dollar which is respected but not necessarily too high. I don't want to set the markets off by saying that. That doesn't portend any interventions, any action. I'm simply making the indisputable economic point that a steadily rising dollar is not unalloyed beauty.

JOURNALIST: Does your appearance on the program represent some sort of rapprochement between you and Senator Richardson?

PM: Well Graham Richardson and I have continued to have civil and good relations.

JOURNALIST: Despite the fact that he was leading Paul Keating's campaign for PM?

PM: I wouldn't say he was leading it. That's your judgement. It's not mine.

JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, is there anything that the Federal Government can do about the NSW Government's Industrial Relations legislation?

PM: Not by way of legislation ourselves. We've expressed a view about it. But there's nothing we can do by way of legislation I think.

ends