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Transcript of interview/talkback with Bob Maumill, Radio 6PR

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MAUMILL; Hello Prime Minister how are you, good to see you again.

PM: Good Bob it's good to see you. I remember we last talked in Sydney didn't we?

MAUMILL: We did, we had a vigorous exchange of views on that occasion. As I remember I asked you some questions about interest rates and it got to the stage, at one stage the producer of the program had to come in and ask us to cool it down because it we started to get angry but I think on that occasion my criticism of the government, the high interest rate structure was warranted.

PM: Yes well I said we would bring them down didn't we and we have bought them down, how much?

MAUMILL: What were they then -PM: We bought them down about 6%.

MAUMILL: 21% they were at the time. Well hang on a minute it was a legitimate question -PM: Of course it was -MAUMILL: And you have got the longest memory in history.

PM: I also -

MAUMILL; Hey I am doing this interview Prime Minister.


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PM: Hey Bob I think you said as I recall that I wouldn't deliver on the tax cuts didn't you?

MAUMILL: I said at the time that I would believe the tax cuts when I saw them. I though the economy was too sick for you to deliver it.

PM: Did you get them mate?

MAUMILL: I do admit that the tax cuts have arrived Prime Minister, but there are still problems with the economy.

PMi Sure.

MAUMILL: And what have you got in mind?

PM: Well I will be making a very detailed statement to the Australian people in the parliament on 12 March and we are not going to muck around with the Australian people, I acknowledge that they have been hurt, they are hurting and I will try and

explain how we have been attempting to cope with the problems that we had of high level of demand and that as I think the Australian people know that we had to slow things down, that that's certainly caused pain and to detail to the Australian

people the range of things that we will be doing. I will be making specific announcements about the way the economy will be shaping in the future, we are going to take them completely into our confidence and I believe that the Australian people

will respond to that.

MAUMILL: On the question of interest rates the falls have been dramatic and they are still falling and in the time since we last spoke you said 6%. But there was a period of great hurt -

PM: There was.

MAUMILL: We are told it created a recession and we have been told by your Treasurer that that's a recession that we needed. Now when will it end? We need it to end. The anger and

frustration and misery out there is becoming a problem that electorally you may not be able to overcome unless you redress it.

PM: As I have said Bob I expect the economy to be on the rise in the second half of this year and I adhere to that


MAUMILL: Prime Minister the problem with our wool industry has now got to a stage where there is almost panic in the wool producing areas. John Kerin one of your most effective ministers said this morning that this is arguably the biggest

problem that he has ever faced. Now we in Australia face a potential bill, the taxpayers face, of $2.5 billion because we have guaranteed the Australian Wool Corporation's borrowings. Much of the funds have been raised of course from farmers

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MAUMILL: (cont'd) around Australia. Is there a Cabinet plan to bail the wool industry out or is there a plan in fact to do away with the reserve price scheme?

PMt I can't go into those details as you would appreciate but John Kerin was talking to me yesterday, there will be

discussions in Cabinet next week but I am not going into details Bob.

MAUMILL: So the problem will be addressed?

PM: Well we have had it under continuing review and let me say this that John Kerin as I think you intimated he is an outstanding minister, he has the confidence of the industry, he has been in constant communication with the industry

including you know right up until yesterday and together the wool industry, the leaders of the wool Industry and the government will tackle this problem. It's a problem not only for the wool growers but the wool industry remains of very

great importance to the overall Australian economy and we have had this from the point of view of our rural producers, we have had this coincidence of the falling out of the market for wool and of course the low prices for wheat and when you take wool and wheat combined you are talking about a very very

large proportion of the rural industries. Now of course last year the problems of prices, of low prices, low demand were exacerbated by the high level of interest rates, well we promised then we would bring the interest rates down. We have done what we indicated what we would do on that side but as

far as the price levels are concerned well that, particularly for wheat is going to require a continuation of the leadership by Australia in the Uruguay Round to try and ensure that we get fair trading internationally in agriculture.

MAUMILLs Australia's car industry prime Minister is starting to react now. The vehicle builders are taking to the streets with placards, traditional Labor supporters are saying that their industry is under threat with the Button plan of course

suggesting by the year 2000 many of the makers that are presently employing Australians will no longer be around and the vehicle builders are frightened about it. You have seen the demonstrations.

PMt I understand that.

MAUMILLt What's the future of the car industry?

PM; When you talk about the future of the car industry you have got to talk not just about those who are currently employed in it but the future of the car industry is the future for car consumers, car purchasers as well as car producers. Now as has been pointed out by the report of the

industry commission the level of assistance that's provided under the existing tariff regime is equivalent to about $1.6 billion or something like $4,000 per vehicle. Now we remain committed to the position that tariff levels have to come down

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PM t (cont'd) and they will come down and we will be dealing with that in the statement that I make and Senator Button makes to the Parliament next month. But we will do that in discussion with the producers in the car industry and with the

unions and with the ACTU. We will have in this country a

viable car industry but if you try to conduct an economy on the basis that you kept every precise existing structure because the people who work within that structure must be protected then in the end of course what you would do would be

to have a price structure in this country which would be unsustainable. You cannot look after 17 million people and the interests of 17 million people including those people as purchasers of motor vehicles on the basis that you must keep

every existing plant, every existing worker in their existing job.

MAUMlLLt Prime Minister I have interviewed you in many forums on two or three radio stations, I think the last time we had an exchange of views outside a radio station was when I was conducting some interviews at the Golden Slipper. You were

kind enough to give me your time then and we walked out

amongst the crowd of what 40/50,000 there on that day, most of them left the rails and gathered around you and then the kids wanted autographs, the mums wanted to touch you. In every forum that I have interviewed you during the time that you

have been Prime Minister you have been a popular Prime Minister that has attracted big crowds, That's changed a bit I mean since our involvement in the Gulf there have been protests by people who in the past may, like the vehicle

builders been traditional Labor supporters who have been particularly cruel and particularly vocal in their remarks, the criticism that's made of you and you are getting a lot of the pressures that we got for prime ministers of Australia of

other political persuasion during the Vietnam war. How do you cop it?

PMt If you conducted this important responsibility of the Prime Ministership of this country on the basis of being worried about criticism and demonstrations if that was your approach then you don't deserve to be in the job. If I said

now Bob if I do this will I get some boos, hisses or

demonstrators, alright I won't do it because I might get some boos, hisses or demonstrators, I would be virtually a traitor to this country. I have got to sit there on the basis of all the information that's available to me and then make the decisions which I believe are in the best interests of this

country. Immediately and in the longer term in regard to the war there is no one who abhors war more than I do, just

because you are shouting around under a placard and saying peace, peace, peace that doesn't make you love peace more than the Prime Minister loves peace. I have got to talk about it in terms of the immediate and the medium term and the longer term interests of this country and of the world and I know without any question that I have made the right decision so

that's my answer and if I get some criticisms and some boos

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PM: (cont'd) and some jeers, some hectoring that's the price I have got to pay for making the right decision, okay so be it.

MAUMILL: Do you still believe it's the right decision.

PM: I know it's the right decision.

MAUMILLt The carnage of a ground war has started, there are casualty figures now starting to emerge. The Iraqis today took a terrible pounding we have seen the first American ground casualties over the last week or two, reports coming out now that among the prisoners taken may have been a female American serviceman. Do you believe that the American and the Australian public will have the stomach for a long ground war?

PM: Well let me make the first point. I don't believe that there will necessarily be a long ground war. I have been of the view from the beginning that it is conceivable that this conflict can end or could end without a long ground war, conceivably without a massive ground war at all. Now I am not saying that's the outcome but what you have got to understand is that the multinational forces now have complete air

supremacy and that means that they are in a position not only to pursue strategic targets within Iraq like their nuclear, chemical weapon, biological weapon facilities and their military infrastructure. But they are in a position where

they can pound the equipment and the forces of Iraq in Kuwait and southern Iraq and those forces are going to be on the receiving end of that bombardment in a situation where they know they have got no air defence. Now I believe it is

conceivable that that resistance could come to an end without a massive ground war. Now however, having said that and that's obviously a matter of debate there have been some indications from high level military figures within the multinational forces that they believe that's a possibility,

others who don't. But if indeed a massive ground conflict has emerged it was known at the time when the decision was taken to engage in the response to Iraq's aggression that this was a possibility and it was a price that together we would have to pay perhaps.

MAUMILL: Do you believe that the issue of conscripting young Australians into the armed forces has been put to rest by your most recent statements, keeping in mind the Democrats are trying to keep this issue alive?

PM: It should have been if we had honest politicians in this country but of course unfortunately in this area we have people who for their own malicious and malevolent purposes have tried to introduce fear and loathing in the hearts and

the minds of innocent people in this country. I mean I can't think of anything more contemptible than that political figures and others associated with them should be introducing such fear into the minds of Australian fathers and mothers and young men and women that this government is contemplating

conscription when they know it to be an untruth. I have made

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PM: (cont'd) it clear that there is no intention and I take the opportunity on your widely listened to program Bob of saying it again and that I cannot find words to express my contempt for those who continue to inject fear and

apprehension into the minds of Australian men and women by this continuing suggestion. They know it has no basis in fact and they ought to have the moral decency to refrain from producing this fear.

MAUMILLi Is there still a bipartisan approach to our

commitment in the Gulf between the Labor government and your opposition opponents?

PM: Yes. And in the parliament, so I am not saying anything new, and in my reply winding up that debate, that historic debate I paid tribute to the Opposition both for the fact of their support and the manner of it. I find the Opposition

lacking in many respects but on this issue I would be less than fair if I didn't acknowledge as I say their support in fact and in the way they have done it.

MAUMILL: Is there any uneasiness there with you about the way in which the Americans now seem to be saying well Kuwait is the objective but while we are at it we will just put Saddam Hussein out of business forever.

PM: When you analyse it there has been some I think -MAUMILL: I mean they are going for the man now aren't they?

PM: No they are not. Let's make it quite clear if the

multinational forces had wanted to go for the man and wage total war they have the capacity to have obliterated Iraq. They have the unquestioned capacity to do that but obviously from the beginning it wasn't a question of getting the Iraqis out of Kuwait on the one hand and not attacking Iraq on the other. I mean if you are going to attack a military

dictatorship regime that has obliterated another country then you have to tackle those targets which sustain and support and could in the future if the conflict went on, increase his

military capacity. So from the beginning it was always going to be the case that there would be a severe and concentrated attack on strategic targets in Iraq. Hence the concentrated attacks for instance upon his nuclear facilities, upon his chemical weapon facilities and upon his biological weapon

facilities and you obviously in a situation where they having started the war and I remind you and your listeners the war is not two weeks old it's nearly six months old, the war started when Iraq invaded and obliterated Kuwait on 2 August. Now when that military dictator refused after five months to respond to the demonstrated wishes of the world that he should withdraw and he went to the deadline without it, then what you had to do was to make sure that his capacity to continue the war was minimised and that's what has been going on. Now it's

remained our hope certainly my profound hope that as soon as he understood the intensity and the unanimity of the

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PM: (cont'd) multinational forces commitment to his withdrawal from Kuwait that he would do that and that's all he has had to do at any time and the conflict would have ended. The simple thing to say alright I accept the world opinion I withdraw my

forces from Kuwait then it's all over.

MAUMILL: Prime Minister there are a number of people who would like to talk to you today, a final question before we go into our listeners. It is 1991 and you haven't been asked this week but are you going to stay as the leader?

PM: Yes.

MAUMILL: Okay. How's Paul, alright?

PM: Yes.

MAUMILL: Everything sweet.

PM: Yes we had a good yarn last night it was a fairly long one we covered a lot of issues including this and it was a very civilised I think basically friendly discussion and I intimated that I would be staying and he understands and

accepts that.

MAUMILL: Let's go to the phones, we have got Phyllis.

CALLER; Well I just want to congratulate you and Paul Keating for your capable handling of the affairs of Australia in the last eight years and long may it continue. I am not going to talk about the war I just want to say that the Australian economy in my opinion is one of the soundest in the world for which you and your government have to be commended and I feel

too that even if the economy has slowed we are still not much better off than most countries in the world. I think it's to be regretted that many Australians don't express more confidence in their country because confidence is infectious

and in your case well deserved and I can tell you while your are at the helm I am happy about the way Australia is going.

PM: Phyllis thanks very much it's very kind of you


MAUMILL: That's not you Hazel is it?

CALLER: No I am not related to you I have just been a great admirer of you ever since you took over eight years ago I have kind of rested on my oars.

CALLER: I am a pensioner I would like to refer to the tax cuts that came into operation on 1 January which have been reported as benefitting award workers on $575 per week equivalent to a wage rise of about $18 per week. Mr Prime Minister could you

please indicate to me and all pensioners listening to this program whether you intend to increase pensions to compensate

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CALLER: (cont'd) them for this benefit received by all workers and if so what extent and if not why not?

PM: Well you have got it around the wrong way Clem. What we have done is to commit ourselves to the proposition when we came into office of increasing the pension as a proportion of average weekly earnings. When I became Prime Minister Clem the pension as a proportion of average weekly earnings of what workers got was just over 22% and I said I would get that up

to 25% and I have done that and not only have I done that and that is the highest proportion that it's ever been. Not only have we done that but by the way the system operates now, that will continue to happen, will continue to ensure that sort of

proportion is maintained and as you know we have reduced the area of the pension that is subject to tax so that by the

middle of this decade we will have the position where no pensioners will be paying tax. Now you can't ask for a fairer go than that Clem.


MAUMILL: Let's keep talking. Mick's joined us on line 15. G 'day Mick.

CALLER: G 'day Bob and Prime Minister Bob.

PM: G 'day Mick.

CALLER: G 'day Bob. Bob, I'm not going to ask a question, I'm just going to make a couple of statements. I don't know where that first lady listener's been for the last few years but somebody woke her up this morning. But Bob, we've got

this statement coming up in March and I don't want to ask you a question because you probably can't answer it, but Bob, this economy has to be lifted, the export scene has to be lifted and you're the only guy that can do it, you are

the Leader and you should be directing those people over there on what you want and I'm saying to you that all economies in the world were lifted on people getting a free ride. What I mean by a free ride, there has to be an

incentive for somebody to invest and all the ships in Norway, as you would be aware, are owned by doctors and God knows what and they just lease them back to companies and consequently they get a tax write off. Today in this country there is no longer a tax write off, there is no

incentive, there is no investment allowance, there is no depreciation of any consequence and these are the things that are affecting the economy -MAUMILL: Right, we've got you, Mick. Now there are other people waiting to get on. I think we've got the drift of what you're saying. Incentive to export is what Mick's on about.

PM: Well let me say Mick, I accept the first part of what you're saying and that is that we've got to lift the economy further but I don't accept the latter part of what you're saying. That is just factually wrong. We have in fact had

in recent years the highest level of investment that the country has experienced as a proportion of our total gross national product and in part that has happened because of

the range of incentives that we have provided, not only on the tax side but also via the co-operation of the trade union movement. The proportion of wages as a share of national income has been reduced with the agreement of the trade union movement so that in fact there would be an

incentive to invest, and that's occurred. But I don't say that Mick, with any sense of complacency and let me say to you that in regard to the area of exports although there has been a pleasing increase in the level of manufactured exports which is above the average of the rest of the OECD,

the performance that we've had in that respect, we can't be complacent about it, we've got to do better and we will in the preparation Mick, of the statement that I'll deliver on 12 March be seen sensibly. If there are further things that we can do I don't think you'll be disappointed.

MAUMILL: There's a wicket at the WACA, Prime Minister. They're three for ... Who's out Rog?


ROG: Robin Slee?

MAUMILL: What did he make mate?

ROG: 58 I think, from memory.

MAUMILL: Are you going down there later?

PM: Not today. I hope to go tomorrow.

MAUMILL: Prime Minister, Tony Scrowe, he's a mate of mine that exports vegetables. Good vegetable exporters here in Western Australia. ... send millions of dollars worth of vegetables to South East Asia. Tony Scrowe's in it in a

small way, he specialises in lettuce. He asked me to mention to you when you come in that he's only making about $16 a container load now because the Department of Primary Industry is charging him $140 an hour to inspect his vegetables and he said look mention it to Bob and he might be able to help. I've mentioned it. Next time you're

speaking to John Kerin will you say look mate, ... an hour and give the boys a chance to make a quid out of the lettuce. I'm serious, $140 an hour.

PM: Well I mean you can't expect to have these services provided for free. I'm sure that John Kerin wouldn't do anything that was unreasonable in this regard. I'll ask him about it though just because you asked me.

MAUMILL: Tony, are you listening? He's going to ask him. I've done my dash ... Let's keep talking. Lee's joined us on line 21. Go ahead Lee.

CALLER: I'd like to speak to the Prime Minister please.

MAUMILL: Look, soon as I say go ahead Lee, the Prime Minister and most of the media in Perth that are assembled in the studio can all hear you.

PM: G 'day.

CALLER: Hello. Well I want to ask Mr Hawke when he sent our Australian ships, Australian kids to the Gulf was his son on the ship?

MAUMILL: OK Lee. Hang up and the Prime Minister will effectively answer your question.

PM: Well Lee, I hope I'm not rude but it's a rather silly question. My son is not a sailor. If he had been a sailor, it's quite possible he would've been, so not being a sailor and not being in the Royal Australian Navy, no he wasn't on


MAUMILL: Barry wanted to know if it's possible to meet the Prime Minister. Barry, I've got to tell you come on air with us, Barry but that would depend on what for.


CALLER: I'm just an ordinary citizen from the ethnic background and I made numerous attempts actually through various channels to meet the Prime Minister and I've got a particular message that was delivered to him and only him -MAUMILL: Well give it to us know.

CALLER: No way ... I'll say this on the air, mate.

MAUMILL: Alright, OK. Well -PM: Well you can always write to me care of Parliament House Barry, and I can assure you if you do that your letter will be read and it will be dealt with and you'11 get a reply, and they always are.

MAUMILL: Thanks Barry. Thanks for joining us. Fay has joined us on line 20, Rog. G'day Faye, how are you?

CALLER: Hi, how are you?

MAUMILL: Alright. ... to battle Faye, but the good news is we're still here.

CALLER: inaudible


CALLER: Could I speak to the other Bob please?

PM: Yes, g'day.

CALLER: G'day. How are you?

PM: Well thank you.

CALLER: Good. I've got a question to you.

PM: Sure.

CALLER: How can you justify the fact that you abolished the widows pension and before you answer it, an old age pensioner, an old age person, gets an old age pension, right?

PM: Yes, an old age person gets a pension.

CALLER: Old age pension, right.

PM: If they qualify for it according to means testing.

CALLER: An invalid pensioner, and invalid gets an invalid pension. Unmarried mothers get an unmarried mothers pension. Now why can't a widow get a widows pension ...?

PM: The answer is some do. But as you know there was some changes made in the arrangements whereby it wasn't automatic


for all people because what we wanted to do generally in the period we've been in office is to make sure that where people have the capacity to get into the workforce and do what would satisfy them most, that is to be able to provide

for themselves, earning their own income, that that's the way in which we've tried to shape things, not only in regard to pensions but also in the unemployment benefits area. And that concept, I believe Fay, has met with the overwhelming

approval of the Australian people. The Australian people don't belive that we want to be simply a welfare hand-out state, that if conditions can be created for people to get into the workforce themselves and sustain themselves, that the sort of society we want to be. But there always remains the safety net which means that if people can't do that then they are covered by other forms of social benefits. That's the concept that we've employed and which I think, as I say, has been embraced by the overwhelming majority of the Australian people.

(ad break)

MAUMILL: Let's go back to the phones. You're with Bob Maumill and my guest today is the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Hawke. Paul on line 21 looks like an interesting one. Hello Paul, how you doing?

CALLER: I'm well thank you very much, Mr Prime Minister.

PM: G 'day Paul.

CALLER: I just have a question for you. I'm interested in your opinions of current union work practices and whether you believe that they are in some way contributing to unproductive practices in Australia and hence our

uncompetitive nature?

PM: Well Paul, there are some union work practices, as there are some management work practices which I think are ..., I mean they are just of another era and that's why since we've been in Government we've worked very, very hard to get significant changes in work practices and we've got them and there are lots of reflections of that Paul. But one of course is that there's been a 60% reduction in

industrial disputation since my Government's been in office compared with the previous 7 years. So w e 're trying to tackle this. But Paul, I don't pretend, my friend, that we've got rid of all the work practices that are undesirable

any more than we've got rid of all the management practices that are undesirable. But Australia is very, very much better in this regard than it was before. And talking about our competitive position, we have had a performance in regard to the exports of manufactured goods in the last five years, which is above the OECD average. We've got that because a lot of the trade union movement and a lot of management has recognised that the practices of the past

aren't efficient enough. But to the extent that you're indicating that there is still some practices that are not, you know, right up to the most desirable ..., you're right


and we'll continue to try and persuade the union movement and management they've got to do better.

MAUMILL: How do we handle this problem with the United States subsidising their grain growers and dudding all of the Australian farmers?

PM: Well I think the Australian rural producers and their organisations have been kind enough to recognise the intensity and the consistency with which I and my Ministers have tackled the United States and the Europeans on this

issue. I don't think we could've done more than we have to do it and to try and bring an end to it. To be fair to the United States in the Uruguay Round negotiations, they have been playing a constructive role to try and bring these practices to an end. It's the Europeans who have been the problem. Now we're just in the process of resuming those negotiations.

MAUMILL: Will we ever get anywhere with them?

PM: Let me say this, that there are some signs. I mean it broke down, as you know, at the end of last year but there are some signs now coming out of Geneva that the Europeans are prepared to change their position and I have some hope

that in the weeks ahead of us now we're going to get a positive outcome. It does look as though there's better grounds for optimism now than there were at the end of last year. I can't make a promise. The only promise I can make

is that Australia will continue to be in there leading the push to get a fair go for Australian farmers because what sticks in my craw is that we have the most efficient rural producers in the world and they're not allowed to get a fair go in the international markets.

MAUMILL: There's a voice in the rural community now though that has started to put the shutters up, start to keep out some of the cheaper products.

PM: Yes, but see you can't have a situation where you want your Prime Minister and your other relevant Ministers going into these international forums and saying you open your markets so that we can come in and have a fair go and while we're arguing that, do the opposite ourselves. I mean we'd be laughed out of court. So we've got to try while these negotiations are on to go in and push our case and push our case as we can with the clean hands that w e 've got.

MAUMILL: Let's take a few more calls, Prime Minister. Ida has joined us. Hello Ida. How you doing?

CALLER: Well Bob. Hello Prime Minister.

PM: G 'day Ida.

CALLER: Good afternoon. Thank you for the opportunity of letting me speak to you for a start. Now my concerns, but before I do can I just say that I ... know you because of


another dictator. That's why I'm right behind you on this Gulf thing. Now you've got my backing on that one. Now what worries me is you talk about terrorism and we've got to be so careful. Now I am being pestered daily, month in, month out, by the IRA, which has become so big in this country. Then I hear that two of your Senators are behind

this lot and could you explain a little bit to me please.

MAUMILL: Thank you Ida, the interesting call.

PM: Well Ida, let me say this, we've made it quite clear at all appropriate levels that we reject the concept of murder and terrorism and force that's been employed by any organisation and where the IRA has done these things we have condemned it and condemned it unequivocally. As to the level of IRA activity in this country, with respect Ida, I think you overstated it. I mean I haven't got any evidence before me - and after all I'm in a position to have access to fairly good evidence - and I haven't got any evidence of a high level of IRA activity in this country of the sort that you're talking about. As to the position of any of my Senators, I don't know there precisely what you're talking about. But let me say this, my Government and my Party rejects the instruments and the concepts of terror as a means of resolving political problems and I'm quite unequivocal about that.

MAUMILL: Race relations in Australia are present or differences between some ethnic groups and the body of Australians are fairly well stretched and it would only take one loony, wouldn't it, to start to come out and preach a doctrine of hatred for things to really flair up. Have you been concerned with the few incidents that have occurred?

PM: Yes. I have been concerned with the few incidents. I'm glad you give me the opportunity of going to this issue, Bob. I think the first and the fundamental point we've got to make is that, overwhelmingly Australians are a tolerant people. Overwhelmingly Australians recognise the right of people to have differences of opinion. Overwhelmingly Australian people don't discriminate against another person on the basis of the colour of their skin, their religion,

their creed, the shape of their face, their race or any of those sorts of things. Unfortunately, it is the case, obviously it would be dishonest to hide the fact, that there are some exceptions to that. Of course, in the context of this Gulf conflict there has been an increase in tensions. I want to use this opportunity of saying to your listeners, as I've tried to say to all Australians, that, let me deal

firstly with those of Arab and Muslim persuasion and background. Those people who are citizens of Australia are, I believe, overwhelmingly loyal and committed to this country. If they do have a view which is critical of this Government's policy they are entitled to have that view and

to express it and they should not be, and particularly their kids, should be not subject to any harassment or vilification because of their origin. It is abominable that anyone should attempt to harass or vilify or hurt in any way


people because of their origin. Similarly, if people have some views about Israel that they don't approve of either the existence of Israel or some of the things that they say that Israel may be doing, there should be no, absolutely no harassment of anyone in the Jewish community here. The only criterion that there should be in regard to the conduct of citizens of this country is that they obey the law. If they disobey the laws in any way then the laws will be applied but within the law people should have the right to express dissent and to express their own views. But I plead with your listeners not only that they, not in any way personally

be party to any harassment of people in our community. In this immediate context whether they be of Arab or Muslim derivation or Jewish, because there has been harassment there, not only do I plead with them personally not to

involve in this but actively to discourage it in others.

MAUMILL: Prime Minister, have you got as good relations with the Arab communities in Australia as you have, say with the Jewish Australians.

PM: Yes.

MAUMILL: You've been a supporter of Israel for many years.

PM: I have been a supporter of the right of Israel to exist within secure and recognised boundaries and I have been well known for that. For the whole of my period in public life, not only when I've been Prime Minister, I've also recognised the rights of the Palestinians and it's perhaps reflected,

at this time. I mean, I've visited not only Israel but I've visited and met with King Hussein of Jordan, his brother the Crown Prince, met twice with Mubarak of Egypt and am welcomed in these countries and during this period I have

received, I think, three letters from the Crown Prince of Jordan. So I am a universalist in my attitude towards the Middle East. I've recognised, for longer than most people, the pivotal nature of the tensions and conflicts in that

area because these have been tragedies, not only for the people of Israel, the people of the Arab states and the Palestinian people and particularly never let us forget the tragedy of Lebanon. But it's not only been a tragedy for

those people but it has always carried the potential for the disaster of more widespread and global conflict. That's why I've had the interest. That's why I've visited Israel, why I've visited Jordan, why I've visited Egypt and, may I say, why I think I 'm respected in those countries because they do understand that my interest is that of a universalist. I don't divide people on the basis of their race, their colour or their creed. We're all human beings and this world is not going to finally be rid of the scourge of war unless ultimately we understand that. There is, in the end, an artificiality about race and about geographical boundaries.

In the end we're all human beings and unless we recognise that. I mean, one thing that always comes to my mind, ask ourselves this question, if there were to flash upon your screens now the news that the martians were arriving how quickly as citizens of this planet we'd forget our


differences, the things that we're prepared to fight about. Well it just would be, you know, marvellous if we could imagine the martians are coming. It might bring us all to our senses.

MAUMILL: Something worse is happening. The talkback listeners are coming. ... some of them. Let's go to the phones. Ida has - no Ida's gone - you've had your say. Kevin's joined us. He's got a two part question. They're always a bit tricky.

PM: Just depends on the parts, doesn't it?

MAUMILL: You're not bringing the Ambassador to Ireland and the Holy See home?

PM: No. I'm not bringing him home. He's doing a fine job over there. May I say, let's be direct about it, he's made it quite clear, if he's required to come home for any other purpose he'll be here.

MAUMILL: He told me that. I said are you coming home and he said if the Prime Minister rings up and says get home here and be a counter boy, he said, I'll be home tomorrow. Yes, I said, good, how are you enjoying it Brian. He said

it's tough keeping the diet they're good cooks over here. Has that been an embarrassment at all?

PM: No. Not at all. He was appointed on merit, he is recognised as having done and doing an excellent job in regard to the issues in this state. If his presence is required here he'll be here.

MAUMILL: Kev's on the line. G 'day Kev.

CALLER: G'day Bob. Thanks for the show.

MAUMILL: Thanks Kev.

CALLER: And to you Prime Minister.

PM: G 'day Kevin.

CALLER: ... to talk to both of you. Actually with you both being out of this state, I don't know if you guys know it or not but we're fighting a private war here of our own in Western Australia. It's a pretty dramatic one in a sense it relates to the environment and it relates to salinity. Just before I fly into it, Bob, I'd like to really state here that we work in pretty closely with the Minister for Agriculture, Ernie Bridge, who I heard his interview this afternoon, I go along with it 100 per cent backing on him because he's got everything right. He'd probably be the best Minister for Agriculture we've ever had in this state. Going back to the important part. In this state last year

some 300,000 hectares of productive land at a cost of $30 million last year. Now I don't know if you are aware of it,


Prime Minister, but this problem is as close as Wandowi, Ballsbrook, and this is in the Duour Water Catchment areas -MAUMILL: Kev, you're running out of time very rapidly this was going to be a two part question, it's becoming a major

statement. Make it quick because I want to take another call before four.

CALLER: Ok. Are you aware of these problems that we're having here, right here now, Prime Minister?

PM: I am aware of it in broad terms. I must confess, Kevin, I don't know all the details to which you'd want to go but I'm aware of the issue.

MAUMILL: I must - look just let me intervene here. Your track record in land care is well known. Soil degradation in Australia is one of the biggest problems that are facing our farmers in our country. We lose valuable top soil down through the river system that's blown out to sea. Now more

than most Prime Ministers, you've made it your business to identify with the environment. There may well have been votes in it.

PM: We've done more than that. We've not only identified with the issue but we've put money into this very issue.

MAUMILL: I was about to say that. There's votes in it of course, because there was an environmental awareness during the last election. Cynics like myself may well say that you and Graham Richardson standing on a river bank under a gum tree reassured an awful lot of people who were worried about your commitment to the environment. Now having said that

the dough has gone in.

PM: We've put the money where ...

MAUMILL: And the tax breaks have come, haven't they?

PM: We've put our money where our mouth was. In cooperation, may I say Kevin, with the State Governments and I pay also tribute to the National Farmers Federation, with whom on some issues we've had quite serious arguments. But

there's been very active cooperation between the Government, the National Farmers Federation and the Australian Conservation Foundation in establishing a network right round this country of local organisations to deal with this

issue which are helped to be established and operate by money provided by the Government. So that in this way it's not just something which you get statements from on high from Canberra but from Canberra you get the initiative to

support these local groups who with their knowledge of the problem in their own area are then able to go ahead with our support in dealing with it.

MAUMILL: But there's a backlash, isn't there, against the perception that environmentalists were leaning too heavily on the Federal Government and you were making too many


concessions. A number of your Ministers, John Kerin in the past, Peter Walsh when he was on the front bench. They've come out and said, been disparaging in their descriptions of the environmental movement.

PM: Don't let's talk about Peter Walsh. He's no longer a part of the Cabinet. So in that sense h e 's not relevant. I don't say that to disparage him but he's not a Minister now. But you take John Kerin. It's very unfair to Kerin to

leave, however, the impression that he's not a man with a concern for the environment. Kerin has a passionate concern for the environment. It is true that he questions, at times, some of the claims of the environmentalists and in respect to some sections of it, questions some of their integrity. But you'll never, when you're dealing with environment and development matters, Bob, on every issue get the balance which is, by definition, going to satisfy everyone. You can't and there comes a point in which you have to make decisions. Now in the life of this Government,

in this three year term, we'll make some decisions, I imagine that the environmentalists won't like but as in the past we'll make the decisions that we think are right, not only for now but for the future. I go back to the point I made at the beginning of the program. If I conducted myself

and led this Government in terms of saying, well what's going to get us the least number of boos or have us avoiding any demonstrations well we wouldn't deserve to be Government. I and my colleagues will make the decisions which we think are right for now and the future. That on occasions will upset the environmentalists, on some occasions it might upset some developers, but we'll try and make the right decision.

MAUMILL: How many years has it been now, at the top as Prime Minister?

PM: It's eight years in March.

MAUMILL: What have the highlights been? What are the big items? What are you proud of?

PM: I guess I'm proudest of - well don't let me say I'm proudest of one thing now - one thing that gives me enormous pride is in the area of education. You've heard me talk about it before but nothing is going to change it and that

is that when I came to office only one in three of our kids stayed on in education. Now it's nearly two out of three. So we've changed the face of educational opportunity in this country. As a result of this Government it's no longer a question of whether your parents are wealthy, whether your kids are going to stay on in school and have the opportunity of going on. It's a question of whether they want to and if

they want to they now have an opportunity they never had before. That's going to have everlasting benefits for this country.

MAUMILL: What are they saying to you out there, the people that you meet with every day?


PM: They are saying different things.

MAUMILL: You go to a million forums.

PM: Yes, sure.

MAUMILL: There's a lot of feedback. This is only one of a hundred talkback programs you'll do this year. What are you getting? Are you getting flack about the economy?

PM: Sure. During this last nine months or more we've been getting quite a bit of flack but interestingly also a lot of understanding. People, I think as a result of eight years of our Government, that the electorate is more economically

literate and understanding than they were because w e 've tried to talk to them about economic issues. I mean, just the other day a bloke was back from the United States and was talking to some of us and saying he couldn't begin to compare these two countries, the United States and Australia, in terms of the way here in this country, you heard ordinary citizens talking about economic issues, about balance of payments and things like that. He said, in America you just wouldn't get citizens talking about those

sorts of things.

MAUMILL: You won't get Presidents and Governors doing talkback programs either. I can tell you that. They won't walk into studios and have exchanges of views and eat a bit of cake with the proletarian. That doesn't happen over

there. Prime Minister, I'll thank you for coming in now. You have other commitments. There's just one thing I will ask you to give some thought to on the flight back. West Australians are, as you well know, are susceptible to

airline strikes. We're easily isolated because of the problems that occur in the aviation industry. I must have had a hundred calls over the last two days saying, look I don't want to ring the program but will you tell Bob to get hold of them. He's the great negotiator. He's sorted a million blues out in the past. Make sure that we are not continued to be held to ransom like this, our lives are being destroyed. Now if you can imagine that magnified by

some thousands, that's the depth of feeling here. Would you speak to Peter Cook and a couple of others and see what you can do to get this blue about two man crews, one man crews, refuellers over?

PM: Well I will be talking to Peter Cook. We'll be having a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Before that I'll be talking with him. Just let me say this, I would appeal to both sides in this dispute in these terms. We have a system,

under the law for resolving industrial conflicts and I think it is a system, the conciliation and arbitration system which ought to be respected. It has a good record and if people have got a grievance it ought to be resolved in there or through the processes of direct negotiation and I appeal to both sides in this dispute to abide by those processes. There can't be any excuse for imposing the sort of hardship


upon people generally, and in this state in particular, that has occurred and I hope that we won't see any more of it.

MAUMILL: Prime Minister thanks for your time today. Always good to see you. Thanks for talking to the people of 6PR and the people of Western Australia through our radio station. They're racing at Harold Park. Roger is recording. Roger's recording but they are racing at the park I'll be back soon.

PM: Thanks Bob.