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Transcript of interview with senator the Hon Graham Richardson, radio 2ky, Sydney



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PRIME MINISTER

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH SENATOR THE HON GRAHAM RICHARDSON, RADIO 2KY, SYDNEY, 18 SEPTEMBER 1991

E & O E - PROOF ONLY

RICHARDSON: Good morning Bob.

PM: G'day Graham, how are you?

RICHARDSON: I'm pretty well actually. I know I missed Cabinet yesterday, I assume you were able to get along without me were you?

PM: Just scraped through mate.

RICHARDSON: Just scraped through - didn't do anything to me I hope, while I was absent.

PM: I'm saving if for you son.

RICHARDSON: I'm glad to hear it. I know that today you're on the racing station - you're on KY - the station that does it all with racing ...

PM: Yeah.

RICHARDSON: And I also know that you are an absolute racing fanatic. They fax formguides to you all round the world when you travel. I know that every Saturday you're always there at the races if you can be, and if not at the races you're sending someone up the TAB. Tell us, have you got real friendships in racing?

PM: Yeah, I've got great friendships in racing. I think its - as I've said many times, Graham, to people who come from overseas - when they ask how do you find out about Australia, I say go to the races. I reckon it's the great melting pot of Australia. You see the saints and the sinners, the rich, the poor, everyone there, it's all united in chasing the quid in an honourable way. I've made lasting friendships, for instance, Colin Hayes, who I think is the greatest trainer in the game.

RICHARDSON: His son is doing pretty well too.

PM: Yeah, and he got a good start and he's got a great talent himself. But Colin's been a friend of mine now for over twenty years. I've got great friends here in Sydney racing, I've got blokes like Brian Mayfield-Smith and Ray Guy, two locals who I think are

ornaments to the game. And you get real characters - I mean, if Damon Runyon was around alive and well in Australia, he would have a vast talent to draw upon.

RICHARDSON: I'm sure he would. Do you make a quid out of it?

PM: Yeah, I stay in front.

C O rvi Μ Ο N W EALTH PARLIAM ENTARY LIBRARY M IC A H

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RICHARDSON: You stay in front. There's not many punters who ever actually manage that. Is that because you know Colin Hayes and Ray Guy and Brian Mayfield-Smith?

PM: Well, knowing people helps - there's no doubt about that - but, as with everything in life, unless you work at it yourself, you won't win and I make a point however late I finish on a Friday night, I try and get The Sportsman and study the form for a while. I mean if I didn't study, I wouldn't win.

RICHARDSON: So you must occasionally listen to KY.

PM: I do indeed, yeah I listen to KY. It's compulsory listening when I'm in Sydney.

RICHARDSON: Do you reckon you could help the rest of us mortals earn a quid? We find it pretty tough at the races, but I know that there is a meeting on today in Newcastle, is there anything you can tell those people out there who are desperate to get up the TAB and make some money?

PM: I'll start with the usual protestation of the tipster - I reckon it's a reasonably hard day. The Cup's on today - the Newcastle Cup. I tend to think it's between a couple of horses - Rural Prince, which I saw win the Grafton Cup when I was up there the other day. Brought it across hit and run from New Zealand, very impressive performance, and it ran very well a third the other day - 1 think it was the Wyong Cup. It's in today well weighted - I think it's got an excellent chance, and I think the top one Aquidity - a

combination of Tommy Smith and Dittman - so I would be going Rural Prince/Aquidity in the Cup.

RICHARDSON: Any other tips during the course of the day? A big day like that?

PM: I've had a little investment on a thing called Open Mind in the fourth, and I think you tell me that's been tipped to you?

RICHARDSON: I don't think you're Robinson Crusoe, I'm thinking that might get up. So I have to tell everyone out there who can't see this, he has got notes all over the table - the formguide - so he's not telling us everything but at least he has told us a couple.

PM: And, there's a bit of a long-shot one. There's one that Brian Mayfield-Smith's got which, it ran a very good race against Kinjite last time in. Kinjite's very good - it's even the bottom weight. Zephalira in the ninth - that will be a long shot but might have a bit of

a chance.

RICHARDSON: Long shots do get up sometimes so, maybe I might part with a bit of my own money and see if I can do it. Are you, I know you go to the races a lot, do you find it hard being Prime Minister and turning up at functions like that? Do they drive you mad?

PM: No, in terms of going a lot, I go as often as I can, which isn't too much. I went last Saturday which was the first time for months and months. Now, its a great thing about the Australian people, they know that when I am at the races, I'm there to enjoy myself and they are very friendly - you don't get any chiacking - and they just recognise you're a fellow punter. They're marvellous.

RICHARDSON: When you say you don't get any chiacking, what's it like around Australia at the moment with a million people unemployed. Are you finding it harder as you go around or are they still friendly?

PM: Still friendly. I mean I'm not trying to be silly about it by saying that people aren't hurting out there. I deeply regret the fact that we had to slow things down there for some time and people are hurting, but I think the Australian electorate is much more

sophisticated now than it used to be. They know I haven't been in public life and in the

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labour movement for thirty-three years to deliberately create unemployment. But we had to slow things down - I think people tend to understand that and I'm still getting a very good reception.

RICHARDSON: What would you say to the kind of caller that I've been getting here in the last few days, and on other talkbacks that I've done over the course of the last few months, when you get someone who rings in and they're, say forty years old, and they say well, look I've got three kids, I've been laid off my job in the building industry, I'm trying desperately to get another one - I can't - I never borrowed money from overseas, I paid taxes all my life, there's just been a wage flood - what are you going to do for me? What do we say to him?

PM: Well, I would say these things. First of all, I would genuinely repeat the real concern that I have - that this situation has been made necessary - and I would try and explain with one simple statistic - I wouldn't hit them with a lot of statistics - but I would simply say that there, two or three years ago, we had a position in Australia where we were increasing our spending as a nation twice as fast as we were increasing our

production. We were borrowing from abroad, importing, and if we hadn't done something to slow things down, then the world would have imposed a much more drastic solution on us. So, I would first of all try and explain why we had to slow things down, Graham. I would then explain that we have massively increased by hundreds of millions of dollars, the spending on training and retraining programs, relocation allowances, too, for people who can shift to other places if they see it as a possibility elsewhere, and I would urge that person to go to the CES, find out about all these training and retraining programs that, you know that in Cabinet we worked out to try and address this problem to see if there were programs which suit them and I would ask them to have confidence because we now have, for the first time in a generation, a nation which is low inflation, lower rates of inflation than the rest of the world, we are becoming more competitive, the economy is turning, we are on the way back - so get in there and do what you can to train and retrain yourself because it is going to come good. And I would say that they can have the assurance that this Government, as distinct from the Opposition, will ensure that benefits, social welfare benefits, are going to maintain and over time increase their real value. We are not going to, as the Opposition promises to do, to throw them on the street after nine months. So, those are the sorts of things I would try to say and explain.

RICHARDSON: What about the ones who ring in, increasingly now, and talk about immigration and calling on us to cut it and say, in a recession - a million out of work - why do you keep bringing in 150,000 people a year?

PM: Well, first of all I'd say we're not bringing in 150,000 - the figure is about 112 - and in fact this year, in net migration terms, it'll be less, it'll be under 100,000. I'd say this, Graham, I'd say this great country of ours is a nation of immigrants. I'd ask them to read their history and look back and remember that in the early days, it was the Irish that were getting attacked - the Irish were the root of all evil, we should keep the Irish out and stop them coming. And then, I can remember straight after the war, my first years at University, Graham, it was the wogs and the dagos was the phrases we used - the objectionable phrases - the Italians, the Greeks - kick them out because they are a threat to our jobs, and fortunately, our great Labor Party in that immediate post-war period, stuck to its guns and we are the strong and I think great nation we are now, because we haven't succumbed to these temporary attacks upon newcomers. Something like the Vietnamese are subject to attacks to some extent. But the Irish, if we go back, have helped to make this nation in our great country, as certainly the Greeks and the Italians have and it will be seen as history goes on, that the people have come from Vietnam, for instance, will make a very special contribution. So we have got to try and take the longer term view and understand that we are only seventeen million people - that's all we are, seventeen million people - in a world of five and a half billion and we can't just believe that we can cut ourselves off from the rest of the world. We have got to grow with it, enrich ourselves with people coming from all over the world. Having said all that, we do

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temper the level of immigration. If we are not growing as strongly as we have been - as you know, we've cut the levels back - so those are the sorts of things I'd say.

RICHARDSON: What about the other complaint that I've had a few times, that we are not a real Labor Government because we are presiding over this million unemployed and we are not actually going to do anything to get them back to work in a hurry?

PM: Well, I would get pretty vehement about that. Any objective record of the history of our Government will show that we have been more true to Labor principles than any Labor Government in the history of this country. What is, after all - you and I can say this without bullshit - the basic principle of Labor is about trying to see that the great resources of this country are developed in a fair way that we grow, and that those with the least opportunity, are to sort of look after themselves, get help by the community. So I would start with education, and I'd say that when we came to office, we inherited a situation where only one in three of the kids went on to complete secondary education, and they were basically the kids of the rich. Kids of the relatively low income areas of Australia didn't go on. And the most fundamental Labor principle is that a child -

irrespective of the income levels of his or her parents - should have their talents fully developed. And that's what we've done - instead of it being one in three, it's now well over two in three are staying on. We've created a record number of places in the education system, in the technical education system, in the universities, so the kids can go on. Evidence - a university in the west of Sydney. The Tories think that universities are places for the privileged, and they situate them accordingly. We say that university is for everyone, and we are situating them accordingly. I would say that in regard to pensions, that we inherited the position where pensions got just over 22 per cent of average weekly

earnings. We've brought it up to 26 per cent and are taking them out of the tax regime. In regard to the disabled, they are now looked after in a way they've never been looked after before. All this in a situation where we've created a record number of jobs, still with the unemployment that's occurred in the last 12 months or so we've created 1 V z million new jobs which is nearly four times as fast as the Tories did when they were in and it’s twice

as fast as the rest of the world. So we're developing the resources of this country. We're making it grow now. We've taken the tough decisions when we had to slow it down but in all that period we haven't been obsessed by mechanistic economic statistics. It's been about people and making sure that the community looks after those that are not able to

look after themselves. That's what Labor's about.

RICHARDSON: I wish I'd had you on the air the last couple of days - it would've made life a lot easier. I think we have a lot of people who've rung in, Prime Minister, and I think we should try and talk to a few of them.

PM: Sure.

RICHARDSON: Now the open line's 633 9000. There are a lot of calls on there already but we'll try and find just a few people for the Prime Minister to talk to. Our first caller is Eileen. Good morning Eileen.

CALLER: Good morning Senator.

RICHARDSON: Do you want to talk to the Prime Minister? He's right here.

CALLER: Well actually it doesn't matter. I'm not actually whingeing but I'm just wondering when the country's going to come out of this mess? I'm speaking as a worried mother.

PM: Yes.

CALLER: With a son that's an architect and you know how things are with the architects.

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PM: Sure.

CALLER: ... for about eight months.

PM: Eileen, could I just say to you very, very briefly and I hope you don't think it's just a politician saying words. I repeat what I said to Graham a moment ago. I regret that we've had to slow things down there in the last couple of years because Eileen, I repeat, I'm not trying to drown you with statistics but we were just growing that fast in terms of spending our money and not matching that with increased production that we were borrowing from the rest of the world, we were importing, we had to slow things down, we've done that and now the evidence is increasingly around us that we've hit the bottom and we're on the way out. As we go out of this calendar year '91 and into '92 the economy is going to pick up - all the indications are there. Particularly may I say in the housing sector we're going to very significantly increase the number of homes that we build in this country now in this coming year and the period ahead. In the area of the construction industry generally, Eileen, we did get overheated. I mean, if you look at the central business districts of Sydney and of Melbourne we've created more office space there with all these new buildings than we've been able to accommodate. So that is going to have some impact for some time on the profession in which your son is involved. But I can assure you, Eileen, that the economy has bottomed, we're on the way out and the prospects are better. It may be that some people are, for a while, going to have to do jobs that they are less, as it were, than they are professionally trained for. But the time will come, Eileen, I hope in the not too distant future, when your son is going to be able to do the sort of work for which he has to his great credit equipped himself.

CALLER: ... Do you think it's because these developers have been overburdened with the high taxes?

PM: No, no in fact, Eileen, since we've been in Government we have significantly reduced the burden of taxation. We've done that, not just in the personal tax area but one of the great things we've done for companies is bring in imputation which reduced and removed the burden of double taxation where the profits of company were taxed twice, both in the hands of the company and in the hands of the shareholders and we've produced one of the best imputation systems in the world which is of great benefit to these

companies. Now the fact was, Eileen, that they really, companies and it was particularly evident in Sydney and in Melbourne, they overbuilt, they over-extended, there's now a glut of office space but that will, through time and not too distant time, that will even

itself out and will resume, you know, significant activity in the non-residential construction area as well.

RICHARDSON: Okay. Thanks very much for your call Eileen. We've got a lot more and at 22 past 10 we might talk to Dorothy. Good morning Dorothy.

CALLER: Good morning.

PM: Good morning Dorothy.

CALLER: A very good morning to our Prime Minister, Mr Bob.

PM: Thank you.

CALLER: I'm an 82 year old job. I've been around a long time. I was bom in Melbourne.

PM: Were you?

CALLER: I was.

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PM: What part of Melbourne Dorothy?

CALLER: I know Mr Hawke's background. I was born in Middle Park... to Elstemwick when I was three years of age. My father bought our home on the Nepean Highway for 600 pounds. I could really write a book on it - the politics followed them all. I've been a great admirer of Mr Hawke all my life. I know he earned it. I know he had to go to England to get his, you know, his award and blah, blah, blah and of course on a lighter note when I could afford it and had a few bob - when I was growing up doing my

marketing before the word was in the dictionary - I used to go to the races.

PM: Did you?

CALLER: ... to give Mr Bob a laugh. I do my homework and I'm nearly blind with cataracts but that's beside the point. I get the reading lamp and you know and then I have a rest and then I open them and do them again.

PM: Yes.

CALLER: ... 60-1 ... last Saturday week.

PM: Did you?

CALLER: What nearly broke me up, being a pensioner and living on a restricted amount of money and lying straight in bed I couldn't afford to take the quinella because it was like a Melbourne Cup. What ripped me off was good, I'll have a dollar each way on number 17, I'll have a dollar each way on 7 and I'll take the field in the quinella with number 1. So there was the trifecta. The quinella and the trifecta.

PM: Good on you.

CALLER: My homework is spot on.

PM: Well Dorothy just let me, we're coming to the most interesting period of the year in racing now as we come up towards the big spring carnivals in Sydney and Melbourne. Just keep your eye on a horse down in Melbourne, it's one of Colin Hayes', a horse called

Ivory Way.

CALLER: Oh yes.

PM: He brought it out from England. It's first start it ran fifth and it's won its next three. One of the interesting things about it, it was over in Adelaide before it came to Melbourne it thrashed Durbridge and Durbridge as you know won the AJC Derby here earlier in the year and it had a slashing win in Melbourne on Saturday and this Ivory Way is -CALLER: inaudible

PM: Just keep an eye on it. I think it might do some good things over the carnival.

CALLER: But Mr Bob the money that I've made out is only the 50 cent job, you know.

PM: Yes, sure.

CALLER: I do believe that when you boil down the racing for the poorer person that's doing everything right there's only one way to win and I put in about six hours homework.

PM: Yes, you've got to put in the work. Just let me say one more thing make sure you don't let Dr Hewson get anywhere near government because he'll whack a great big, a

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consumption tax on your betting and he'll take 15 per cent out of it. So don't have a bar of that because it's hard enough getting a win now without them taking another 15 per cent.

CALLER: I do everything right and I've got a very good, sincere friend in the Department of Security and I'm in the Penshurst area.

PM: Good on you.

CALLER: ... everything right.

RICHARDSON: Good on you Dorothy.

PM: Thank you very much Dorothy.

RICHARDSON: Thanks very much indeed. Our next caller who wants to speak to the Prime Minister is May. Good morning, May.

CALLER: Good morning, Senator.

PM: Good morning, May.

CALLER: Good morning, Prime Minister. Well first I want to tell you I admire you very much because I prayed for you that you would give up drink and you would keep off the drink and you did.

PM: I have. It's over 11 years now without a drop, May.

CALLER: Tremendous.

PM: Thanks.

CALLER: Just tremendous. Now there've been wonderful achievements in your lifetime. I'm a clergyman's widow and you'd know a bit about the life I've lived.

PM: Yes indeed. You wouldn't have had a lot of money, May.

CALLER: I've had a lot of other good things.

PM: Exactly, yes.

CALLER: Now, Prime Minister, just briefly I know you're concerned about the people that are unemployed and there's one thing you can do.

PM: Yes.

CALLER: My father proposed it in 1930 at the Bankstown Labor Party meeting. Jack Lang passed it. The Moratorium Bill that stopped men and women losing their homes because of unemployment caused by the Great Depression. Now it was law for 41 years. I met Jack Lang in '73 and had a talk with him and he published on the first page of The Century - his little paper, you might remember -PM: I do remember The Century, May, yes.

CALLER: How Askin threw it out in New South Wales, the Moratorium Bill. Now he pointed out there that very little had been lost by the building lenders, the banks and so forth and he said it was a wonderful bill. He proposed at that time that the Whitlam

Government bring it in because there was this slight downturn at that time. Now Mr Hawke that's something I'd like you to do again. If he proposed it for the Whitlam

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Government, with all your power and compassion I think that is something that would put Australia on the world map to get a Moratorium Bill again. I'll tell you why my father proposed it. He had a business at Bankstown. It was called Phillips and Woods and the man that had the lorry - owned the lorry that did the carrying for him ... he and his wife were turned out of their home because of the downturn in the building area and his wife gave birth to her fourth baby in a tent and died with pneumonia. Now it grieves me to see, I'm talking this over with Ross, who is the local member, how it grieves me to see the

auctions.

PM: Yes.

CALLER: When people strive hard, they do the right thing, they marry, they have a family and their little home has to go up - it is really a dreadful experience I should imagine - it's never happened to me.

PM: Yes, May, well I -CALLER: It's in your comer now Prime Minister and I'll look forward to seeing what the future holds regarding it.

PM: Okay, May thank you very much for your observations. I won't go into the technical and legal and constitutional questions of the problems between what we can do and what's in the area of the states but I just would say this that one of the things that's pleased me in the last 18 months is that I have been able to bring down dramatically interest rates by an

enormous amount. They're now down, for house lending, they're down to the lowest figure they've been for I think something like six years, so the pressure of interest rates has been very, very much lessened and as far as the banks are concerned, we have as a Government said to the banks that we want them to adopt an understanding and a compassionate attitude towards those who are in temporary difficulties. This is what we call jawbaiting them because we share with you the view that the worst thing that can possibly happen to someone is that they can see a situation where they've invested their savings and their time into getting their home and see the threat of that being taken from them. So we're trying to make the banks understand that they should be as understanding and as compassionate as they possibly can be in conducting their business with people who are under temporary pressure. But thank you May very much for your thoughts I appreciate it very much.

RICHARDSON: Yes, thanks very much for you call May. Now we'll be back in a few minutes. There's going to have to be some headlines and I might say even prime ministers wait for the scratchings on 2KY.

BREAK

RICHARDSON: The Prime Minister is still with us and you can talk to him on the open line number of 6339000 and if you're out of the Sydney metropolitan area ring us toll free on 008 044159. Now Bob, I know on Sunday as the person sitting directly behind you at the football, you jumped up very high every time Canberra scored.

PM: Yes I did.

RICHARDSON: How are you feeling for Sunday?

PM: Well let me say this. I think and obviously I hope Canberra wins but I respect Penrith very, very much indeed. I think it's a great side and a great club. I think the fans are going to be in for a magnificent game of football. I mean you look at the stars that are going to be on the ground. I mean let me mention Canberra first. You've got, I think, some football geniuses there, you've got Mcninga, you've got Daly, you've got Bradley Clyde, you've got Stuart, then you’ve got Lazarus and Belcher. Then in Penrith you've got

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Alexander and Geyer, young Fittler. On that paddock you're going to have some stars. Now I just happen to think that Canberra's got a bit more experience and a slightly wider spread of genius, if I can put it that way. But you've got two great coaches in Tim Sheens and Phil Gould. So I respect both sides enormously. Obviously I think Canberra's going to just get there and that's what I hope but I do wish Penrith well. I think it's a great, great side. I think it's going to be a great game.

RICHARDSON: We'll have to break the habit of a lifetime and disagree on this because I think Penrith might just get the nod on Sunday.

PM: You'd better put your money where your mouth is.

RICHARDSON: Well I usually do.

PM: Sure, sure. Yes that's -RICHARDSON: It's cost me dearly on occasions but we'll have to sort out what's an appropriate bet -PM: Even money.

RICHARDSON: But Sunday, I think, should be a great game. I take it you're going to be there. Now I had a staff member here in this rugby league mad station saying to me: "Does he really like rugby league"?

PM: Well let me say this. I have become, you know, very, very much a fanatic of it. I hadn't seen a league game, didn't know anything about it until I became Prime Minister. Then living in Canberra I, you know, I got surrounded by it and I watched it. I didn't understand it for a while and I still fully don't. I'm not an expert but I really believe it's a

great game. It's got Graham, what I like about it, it's got the tremendous mixture of team work, I relies very much on team work, but it also encourages individual brilliance. I mean the two things are brilliantly intertwined, I think, in a way that you don't see really in many other codes or any other sports. I have become an absolute devotee of it. I still

love Australian rules but I love this just as much.

RICHARDSON: Well obviously you love cricket because you played representative cricket and on the cricket front and I suppose on the Rugby Union front, what's going to happen with South Africa? I know you've been talking about going there. Are we going to resume sporting contacts?

PM: Yes we are. That process is already underway. I was thinking Graham, about going there. You know I’m going to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Zimbabwe. That's the 16th October for quite a few days. I've been thinking about the possibility of going into South Africa beforehand but I've now decided I won't actually go there because while they have made very significant changes - and I have publicly and privately congratulated President de Klerk for that because we'd be churlish not to recognise the significance of what he's done and what he's doing - but the changes towards transitional government and discussions about constitutional reform have slowed down. They're not going as fast as I think they should've. So we've made the judgement it wouldn't yet be appropriate but let me say we're going to be having contact with them. It's suggested that their Foreign Minister, Pik Botha, will be coming here before I go to Zimbabwe. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing him and we want to encourage them. They deserve to be encouraged. We want to - having been at the forefront of imposing sanctions - I think we have a a moral obligation now to be at the forefront in seeing that those sanctions come off as quickly and as responsibly as they can.

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RICHARDSON: When can we expect to see the South African cricketers turning up here?

PM: Well we've got the World Cup here at the beginning of next year. I've expressed the view that they would and should be welcome. That's now a matter for the international cricket authorities. But we're putting no bar in their way of being here. I think there are still some members of the Commonwealth, the West Indies are still somewhat reluctant.

So it'll be a decision by the International Cricket Council. But there's no bar as far as we're concerned.

RICHARDSON: Is that the same for all South African sports?

PM: There's one simple test that we've made. That is if the sports are integrated within South Africa then they are welcome to participate internationally.

RICHARDSON: Not a bad test. Well you can call the open line on 6339000 if you want to speak to the Prime Minister and maybe we might, at a quarter to eleven, just talk to a few more people and our next caller is Kay. Good morning Kay.

CALLER: Good morning. Could I speak to the Prime Minister please?

PM: G'day Kay.

CALLER: Hello there.

PM: How are you?

CALLER: Could you tell me who's paying for the time, cost and manufacture of the commemorative medals being minted in Canberra for the Raiders?

PM: I don't know what arrangement Kay, they've come to with the Mint about that. I just honestly don't know. That's a decision that's been made. The only thing I can say that I heard about it is that the workers and the management of the Mint decided that they wanted to make their time available to do this. I could perhaps find out for you Kay, and let Graham know. But I honestly don't know.

CALLER: I'd like to know this. ... piece in one of the morning papers -PM: No, I think it's a reasonable question Kay, but I think it would've been done responsibly.

CALLER: I was wondering please, could you let Mr Richardson know and -

PM: Yes, I will. I'll try and find out for you Kay.

RICHARDSON: Yes Kay, I'll let you know about it during the course of tomorrow probably. OK.

CALLER: Thank you very much.

RICHARDSON: You listen in then and we'll see what we can do for you. Our next caller is Norman. Good morning Norman.

CALLER: Good morning gentlemen.

PM: Good morning Norman.

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CALLER: Gentlemen, just your definition of a small business. How many people would you look at?

PM: Well different people have got different assessments of that. With the superannuation levy it's been worked out in a way which would mean of the audit of 20 people would be regarded for certain purposes there as a small business. But I don't think Norman, that there's any objective test that you can apply. I mean just let me give you an example of what I mean. I'm not trying to be evasive about this but just the other day I was down in northern Tasmania Norman, and the township of Bumie, you know quite a small town on the north coast of Burnie. I certainly didn't expect to find anything, you know, remarkable in terms of a significant business there, but I actually had my eyes opened very wide. I went in there and there was a factory in which this bloke who'd

started off as a diesel fitter working at one of the mines is now manufacturing underground machinery, trucks and movers, and he's got 10%, 10% of the world market. Now that, by the standards of a lot of economists and people in business, would be a small business. But in my judgement that is an enormous business. Here is a bloke who

started off in the back of a truck, a diesel fitter, and he's now got 10% of the total world market. I think that's an enormous business. So I'm trying to just use the example Norman, there is no single test to say, in my judgement, what is a small business.

CALLER: Mr Prime Minister, what I'm getting at is OK, we're, you know, a small manufacturing business, a family show. We have grown over a number of years, purely with a lot of hard work.

PM: How many people do you employ Norman?

CALLER: Round about the 20. But one of the problems - and I've got to say this - the same answer has come back both from the Opposition party when they were in power and from your party. I sent letters through Mr McKellar and through Mr Bowen to the relevant Ministers at a particular time when they were in government and the same stereo

letter came back. I don't think these letters always get to the relevant people sometimes.

PM: What was the letter about Norman? Were you asking a specific question?

CALLER: Yes. One of the cruel things is having to pay sales tax by the 21st of the month. Now we're a business, we sell goods say, this month, September, the earliest we're going to be paid and then it'll be about half the amount, half the customers ... the

end of October. But by the 21st of October we have to pay sales tax and there's only one way. We've either got to try and get it from the banks and pay interest. At times when times were tough, weren't able to get it and then we were penalised 20% by the Government which also wasn't a tax exemption. Now, you know, we're trying to do our best. We have, I suppose, saved Australia the equivalent of $1M in imports of a similar product.

PM: What do you manufacture Norman?

CALLER: Toiletry bags.

PM: Oh yes.

CALLER: But I must admit at the moment it's getting very hard, particularly with products out of China. Products out of China - now your duty is now dropping down to 6%. If we wish to bring in a particular material to make a good product we have to pay 40% duty plus $2.00 a square metre which eventually is refundable, I must admit, once we've manufactured everything and we've filled out all the forms and everything else.

But it is that capital that we have to use up -

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PM: Norman, I'm sorry I don't want to be rude but I wonder if you'd do this because I'll give you this guarantee that if you send a letter here to this station for me I will guarantee you personally that I will have a look at that letter that you send in. I will read it myself, I'll have it examined by the relevant people and I will personally reply to you.

CALLER: Well thank you very much.

PM: OK. Thanks Norman.

RICHARDSON: Thanks very much Norman. It's ten to eleven on 2KY 1017. Our next caller is Alex. Good morning Alex.

CALLER: Good morning.

PM: Good morning Alex.

CALLER: How are you?

PM: Well.

CALLER: I've just been listening in to Senator Richardson and talkback and there was a chap who rang in from South Australia, a shearer. I'd just like to make a few comments. Are you aware of the trouble in the shearing industry at present Bob?

PM: Alex, I was aware of it when I was President of the ACTU mate. You remember the wide comb dispute?

CALLER: Yes, yes.

PM: So yes, I am aware of it mate.

CALLER: Just to touch on it briefly, did you realise where the wide comb dispute ended up Bob? ... flowed red with blood.

PM: Well I know it had some very rough spots Alex, I know.

CALLER: Yes. As I said, I am presently unemployed, I am a shearer, I haven't been able to find work the last couple of weeks and here it is in the middle of springtime. I used to be able to reside not far from your birthplace actually but now I'm forced into a nomadic situation once again. I'm hoping to get ... in a weeks time but what is actually happening, w hat... touched on was that when you ring people and ask for a job more and more

occurring now is they say well how much arc you prepared to work for and I just say well all I want is the award and they say well look I'm sorry, I can't give you a job because I've got other fellas that will work for less than that.

PM: You've been in touch with the union?

CALLER: Yes, we've been in touch with the unions. You know, there's nothing much they can do about it. The problem has escalated to such an extent that I believe they were forecasting 42% of the clip is now done by the New Zealanders which I think is

absolutely pathetic.

PM: There are two parts of what you're saying Alex, and I'd like to deal with each of the two parts. Now firstly, I mean this suggestion you make that much of the work has been done at under award rates, that is intolerable and that is something that I mean you should make sure you have contact with the union, identify the employers who are alleged to be

doing it under the award rate. They are breaking the law. If they are breaking the law they should be dealt with according to the law. Now that's one point. It's quite definite.

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No equivocation about that. On your second point about New Zealanders, now look what we've got to face up to is this mate, it is a decision of this country across the political spectrum, it was initiated by the other side of politics before we came in in '83, this is the CER agreement, the Commonwealth Economic Relations agreement between Australia

and New Zealand, the tories initiated it and we took it up so it's bipartisan. It's based upon the proposition that we should in economic terms try and virtually create one economy. Now Alex, that's created a lot of jobs for a lot of Australians that wouldn't have otherwise been there. We have access to markets in New Zealand that we wouldn't have otherwise had and there are people, Australians, who have got jobs who wouldn't have had it if it

weren't for CER. Now mate, when two nations make decisions like this about trying in an overall sense to enable a free flow of people between them, as you know we don't have visas between us. Australians can go over there and be available for work there - and there's not much available over there, they've had a five year recession, I must say, because it's coinciding with the introduction of their broad-based consumption tax since

October 1st 1986, they've been in recession ever since. But if you have a situation where we get benefits, where Australians get employment because we can have access to their markets, we can't say yes, we'll have all the benefits but then bugger you, you can't have any of the benefits here. Do you see what I mean? You've got to - these things are a two-way thing.

CALLER: I understand what you're saying. About 15 minutes ago you were speaking and you used the term 'tempered immigration'. Is it possible now that they're running at 42%, that we could temper it, we could hold it until this rural depression gets its act together a little bit and the sheep numbers go up? I don't know whether or not you know but the national wage case which of August of 1989 our, we were awarded, you know, a percentage. Of course the farmers or the growers argued that they were unable to pay and we have still not received that. Now we are quite prepared not to have more wages, we

don't want better conditions -PM: Yes, I understand that Alex.

CALLER: ... cliche.

PM: But could I just make the point in regard to what you're saying on immigration mate. The question of the Kiwis, the New Zealanders, they don't get caught up in the immigration levels because there is free flow between us. They don't effect the immigration levels.

CALLER: I beg your pardon.

PM: What I'm saying mate, is that the Kiwis don't enter into the immigration levels. There is free flow. That's the whole point I've been making. There's a free flow between New Zealand and Australia. Australians can go over there not as part of an immigration

program. It's just like travelling, as it were, literally to another state of Australia and Kiwis can come over here as though they are coming to part of New Zealand. They don't enter into the immigration levels mate.

CALLER: Well I know it's very -RICHARDSON: Alex, could I just say 1 think we've had a fair go on the shearing problems today. We've heard a lot about wide combs and New Zealanders and I understand that there's a lot of pain being felt there but I think the Prime Minister's given you about all he can on the issue and thanks very much for your call but I think we ought to move on. If we can just talk to Ken. G'day Ken.

CALLER: Good morning Bob.

PM: G'day Ken.

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CALLER: How are you?

PM: Good mate.

CALLER: Bob, you were talking earlier there about the immigration and the quotas and that sort of thing, coming into the country and going back in history how the country progressed by going back over early years. What I'd like to ask you Bob, is with such a large amount of people unemployed in Australia and you're talking about retraining the young ones to take up the new challenges for the future, what concerns me is when people come out here are they selected for certain jobs? Are we taking people that we need or do we ... one type of person which affects the others and put those out of work. Do we have some sort of control on that?

PM: To an extent we do and to an extent we don't. Let me make the point without going to a long answer. The components of our immigration policy are these Ken. Firstly, people who have come here before and who are immigrants, they have what's called right

a family reunion. That is very, very close. I mean the first degree relations, the son, the daughter, the parent. That sort of thing. They have a right to come here if they satisfy certain points. But the fact that they arc in the family reunion category gives them very, very high points that they achieve for coming. So that's - in that area we of course also if they have certain skill components they get further points. But that's one category. But then we do have a very important category that we've operated over the years Ken, that we just call the occupational category. That is there are certain areas in Australia where we've had skill shortages and we've brought people in to fill those. And then of course we've had two other categories - there's the business migration category where we've sought to bring in people with business experience and capital. We're reviewing that now because that hasn't worked brilliantly I've got to concede, although there's been a lot of success under it. Then fourthly, we have the humanitarian component. Now what we're doing is gradually we've brought down the total level Ken, over the last couple of years because of the tighter economic situation. But within it all, we've tried to give additional points to those who have particular qualifications which we think are going to be useful in the Australian economy.

RICHARDSON: Alright, thanks very much Bob, and thank you for your call Ken. Bob, I know you've got to go in just a couple of minutes. The life of a Prime Minister's always a busy one. But can you tell us after 30 years in public life and four elections and all those years in the ACTU, what drives you to keep going?

PM: Very simple. I passionately love this country and I don't say that in a sloppy sense. I do. I just think it's the greatest country in the world. I think I've still got a significant contribution to make. I think I can do the job better than anyone else and I passionately believe at this point that the torics represent a greater threat to a socially cohesive

Australia than at any time in the past, worse than at any election I've faced before. John Hewson is, himself, he's a cold, passionless man who gets his inspiration from economic models. He's got around him harsh, hard right wing ideologues. They would produce in this country economic devastation and social divisiveness of the dimension we've never seen and I feel committed to trying to stop that. That's why I want to lead us to victory in the '93 election and that's what's driving me. I'd be better off financially and socially and

in every other way if I was out of the job.

RICHARDSON: Yes, I can imagine. But I don't think we're going to see you out of the job and judging from the calls, Australians don't want to see you out of it. Thanks very much for coming in.

PM: Thanks mate.

ends