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Partial transcript of news conference, Mareeba

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JOURNALIST: Mr Collins has called for you to intervene on the waterfront, do you have any intentions of calling that summit of warring parties?

PM: ... before that, but he's right that we do need to move here and I've decided that I'll call the parties to see me on Friday. I will have to change my program. I am scheduled to go to Darwin, as you appreciate, so I'll

go there and discharge my obligations tomorrow on Anzac Day but then I'll cut the program short. I'll fly back to Sydney on Thursday night and i'll want to see the ACTU and I'll want to see the waterfront employees. But just

let me make this clear, the ACTU and the waterfront employees - the Waterside workers' Union - seemed to be making some sounds that the waterfront reform process has come to an end ... There is going to be no moratorium on waterfront reform. We've entered into an agreement with

the unions and the employers and that agreement is going to be adhered to. The waterfront reform is going ahead and I intend to meet with the ACTU and the unions in Sydney on Friday and with the employers and make it quite clear to them, firstly, that that reform is going ahead,

that the classification structure which is being negotiated - that'll be concluded and Implemented - and the wages outcome has got to be consistent with the national aggregate wages outcome that's been talked about

in the Accord. Now those things are going to happen.

JOURNALIST: Are you happy with the role played by Senator Cook given that now your ... directly?

PM: Yes, in regard to the waterfront in particular. Of course Senator Collins has had the main carriage there although Senator Cook at all times has been available for discussions with him. They have done a good job. Most of the work has been done, but I'm simply not going to

accept a position now that the unions can say that that's the end of the process. It's not and it's going to be concluded.

JOURNALIST: Do you have any sympathy position at the moment? for Mr Kelty's CO Μ Μ o r 4V/EALT H

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PM: Generally in regard to the decision that's been handed down by the Commission, we can certainly understand the concern of the ACTU and we've expressed similar concern and that's got to be addressed. But it's not going to be addressed at the cost of stopping waterfront reform.

JOURNALIST: Will- you fight him on this?

PM: I don't think it will be necessary to fight him but my position will be made quite clear to him and to the ACTU and to the WWF.

JOURNALIST: When did you personally decide to intervene, Prime Minister? And who did you confer with before doing so?

PM: Who did I confer with?


PM: 1 think what l ao in these processes of conferring are really my business, but as soon as I became aware that there were noises that they would be stopping the reform process, then I talked with some of my people,

including Senator Collins, and made it quite clear that I was not going to be party to allowing that to happen. And so 1 said this morning, I took the first opportunity this morning on a radio program in Cairns of indicating what my position was, and I'm taking this opportunity now

of making it crystal clear, publicly, what my position is.

JOURNALIST: What can you do if the unions decide not to follow your sensitivity ...

PM: Well, yes, over some thirty-one years now in public life I've been getting these questions - what will happen if you're not able to persuade people. I've always taken the view - well, let's see whether I can persuade them first. I believe I can.

JOURNALIST: What do you have up your sleeves though if you can't? Is tnere anything that you can do ...?

PM: Thirty years of negotiating ability.

JOURNALIST: So basically it all hinges on negotiations?

PM: It hinges on them understanding that an agreement has been entered into, and commitments have been made, undertakings given, and they are not going to be abandoned as far as I'm concerned.

JOURNALIST: Aren't they just doing what the rest of the union movement and the Government has said is appropriate, that the Industrial Relations Commission



decision was off-line and that the ... will be appropriate?

PM: No, you see what you've got to understand is that -on the waterfront - what we've got there is a very special situation where an agreement has been entered into which embraces the Government and the unions and the waterfront employers. And in regard to which we've given

undertakings in regard to redundancy payments and so on. Now that's a three-way set of commitments and just because something's happened in the National Wage Case,

that they are dissatisfied with, and in regard to which I can understand the dissatisfaction, I'm not going to allow the dissatisfaction about the National Wage Case

decision to involve a breaking of the undertakings and commitments that have been given. Because this waterfront reform is important, obviously for the people that work on the waterfront be they as employees or employers, but it's fundamentally important for the whole of Australia and I am not going to allow Australia's

interests to be prejudiced in this way.

JOURNALIST: So this is a one-off case that - if other sectors of the union movement want to get past the iRC's figures and go for the sorts of figures that the union movement and the Government has said are more appropriate

for the running of the economy - that would be OK?

PM: What is OK is - provided the unions conduct themselves within the parameters of the Accord framework. We have laid down expectations under Accord Mark VI as to what national aggregate outcomes will be. I've made it

clear and so has the ACTU, that they are not going to endorse anything which takes it beyond that level.

JOURNALIST: On another subject, Prime Minister, Jeff Kennett now being reinstated in Opposition in Victoria - have you any comment on tnat?

PM: It was one of the smoother operations in the history of the Liberal Party's continuing practice of dumping their leaders. I mean they've had a lot of practice, but they're usually pretty messy about it. But on this occasion you've got to say, well, very unmessy. Now ...

JOURNALIST: Does this bolster Premier Kirner's chances now or make it a little bit more shaky?

PM: I don't know that Joan would say that she's bolstered or unbolstered. She has recognised that she's got a tough job down there and I've acknowledged that she's got a tough job there. But I don't suppose that means you're going to have an entirely happy little bunch of Liberal pilgrims down there. There shall be some worms I would think. How much they fester and create problems I don't know.


JOURNALIST: senator Evans' regional security initiative - is there a need for that given the response from ...

PM: Don't let's sort of create something that, In words, don't necessarily reflect what's been said. I'm not really going to go into any detail on this issue when what you have is correspondence between Senator Evans and

Secretary Baker being revealed. 1 think you'll appreciate that the nature of the relationship between the United States and Australia is very firm. That has been said at tho PreslrtPTvMal level, it's been said at

this Prime Ministerial level and I don't think you're going to be finding any basic problems between us. But I'm not going to go - and it doesn't serve Australia's interests or the United States' interests - to go into

any speculation about matters which are capable of being dealt with between us.