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Transcript of news conference, Union Street, Hamilton



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COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

PRIME MINISTER

TRANSCRIPT OF NEWS CONFERENCE, UNION STREET, HAMILTON 1 AUGUST 1991

E & OE - PROOF ONLY

JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, the actions of America In selling in our traditional markets, is that an act of a friend?

PM: Well I ’ve told successive American Presidents that it's not friendly. The language I've used is to say, if we get shot in the head with one of their bullets it' s not much use

them saying to us the bullet wasn't intended for you, it was intended for someone else. It still hurts, it's still dangerous. So we will continue to press the United States to -

JOURNALIST: How can you do that Mr Hawke?

PM: Well I mean we're not going to declare war on them -they're a bit big. But we are going to tell them that they are acting in a way which is not conducive to the improvement of relations. We have very good relations with the United States but understandably our farmers are saying they're finding it very difficult to understand where your

friends do things which cost us very dearly. We can understand their concern with the Europeans. The Europeans are the basic cause of the problem and w e ' re trying to get the Europeans in the context of the Uruguay Round to change their practices. Now the Americans are doing these things to attack the Europeans into trying to stop them, but it's hurting us in the process.

JOURNALIST: Is it the act of a hostile country as Senator Evans says?

PM: Gareth wasn't saying they are our enemy. But what he was saying, it looks like a very unfriendly act when a country with which you have an alliance relationship does things which cost you dearly and there's no doubt it does.

JOURNALIST: Could we face the same situation with South African coal?

PM: Well it's a quite different thing with South Africa. If it comes back into the international market after the sanctions are lifted then we will have to compete with them. I mean, it's a quite different situation. We'll be ... a competitive market out there in coal. I'm quite confident

that as far as Australian coal producers are concerned we 1 re

2

the most efficient in the world. We've got high quality coal and we can win. Our farmers don't mind having to take on the American farmers in a market, in a free market. We are the world's most efficient producers. If we go out in

the competitive market that's good, let's take on the Americans. But it's bloody difficult when they subsidise it at $75 a tonne or sometimes less, way below the cost of production. That's not competition.

JOURNALIST: And do they really care when you say anything to them now?

PM: Well they care - I'm not accusing ... But the problem is there's that quantum step between saying, yes, we're sorry but translating sorrow and concern into action. They justify it by saying well it's not you that we're trying to hurt it's the Europeans we're ... But I come back to the point I made at the beginning. It doesn't help you if you get hit in the head by a bullet to be told by the person who

fired the bullet, I'm sorry it wasn't intended for you, it was intended for someone else. The bloody bullet still hurts as much.

JOURNALIST: So what can you do to actually make them stop it?

PM: I don't know that I can stop them. I mean, this goes back a long period of time. The Farmers Federation are generous in their praise of us. They say no government could have done more in tackling them and putting the issues

before them, both in the United States and here, but I don't know what the next thing is that's done. Other than of course the real answer, is what we're concentrating on, is in the Uruguay Round negotiations and they really are coming

into their climax now in the final half of '91 and together - and we have the support of the Americans here - we've got to get the Europeans to change their practices. Just cut

out the production and export subsidies within Europe because once they do that and agree to a process, a phase process of bringing those things down then the Americans will, they'll get out of it. So that's really the key to

solving this problem.

JOURNALIST: You're dining with the US Ambassador tonight. Will you be mentioning this issue?

PM: I have no doubt it'll be coming up.

JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, are you concerned about the blockades threatened by the transport workers?

PM: We'll deal with those issues.

ends