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Transcript of news conference, Kelvin Grove High School

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JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what's the status of the commitment you made in December last year to serve out the full next term if you win the next election?

PM: After 1993? I will be making clear, as I go into the next election, what my intentions are. That's the time to do that. The fact is I will £>e serving out the whole of this term. I will be taking the Party into the 1993

election and in that election I will make it clear to the Australian people what my intentions are in that period.

JOURNALIST: ... to serve out a full further term ...?

PM: What the people need to know now is that I will be leading this Government to the next election. That I will be doing at the period of the next election, during that election, I will make it clear to the Australian people what my intentions are then. And so they now have the knowledge

that I will be leading up until the 1993 election and in that period, which is the period when they will need to know what my intentions are for the next period, they will be told.

JOURNALIST: But Mr Hawke a few months ago you were very definite that you would lead through the full next term.

PM: I have nothing to add to the answer I have given.

JOURNALIST: Why have you changed your attitude?

PM: I have nothing to add to the answer I have given. The Australian people will want to know that I am leading them until the next election. They know that. And then in the period when they have got to make up their mind as to the

next period then I will be making it clear to them what my position is.

JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke five Ministers last week distanced themselves from some of your recent statements and about the Kirribilli House affair. How do you feel about that?

PM: That leaves about 25 who didn't.

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JOURNALIST: Can we ask you on the question of uranium? Do you believe it should be brought up at the National Conference?

PM: It is going to be.

JOURNALIST: Does that concern you? Do you think it is meant to embarrass you.

PM: I don't know. Different people have different motives in these matters, but I am not worried about anything that happens at a federal conference.

JOURNALIST: Should it be fully debated do you think, the issue at the conference?

PM: Well, we will see. I'm relaxed if it is going to be. But you know when, before conferences, I've been going to them now for a thousand years and there are a lot of things happen before conferences which get sorted out beforehand,

others don't, and then you have a full debate. I just don't know what will happen on this one.

JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, recently you said it did not need to be debated and would be better not to be debated. Have you changed your mind about it.

PM: Well because at that stage that seemed to be the view of the Party that they want it and I had the view that looking at the market situation it didn't worry me if it wasn't debated if that was what the party wanted. I'm

reasonably relaxed about this one. I don't think the future of Australia is at stake here in terms of whether the Government makes a decision now or in a couple of years time. But if they want to have the discussion now, that's

alright with me.

JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, what role do you see these public appearances playing and do you intend to do more for the remainder of this term of office?

PM: Not more than I would have done any rate? I mean I think it's well established amongst those who analyse Australian politics that I probably travel around the electorates more than any other Prime Minister has done

before me. And I do that because I like it and I regard it as a much more important part of politics than that part of politics which obsesses people, including some around me here, who think it's all in Canberra - that's what they

think politics is about. Well they have been wrong for a very long time. They are wrong now. I have always regarded life outside Canberra as the most important part of politics, so I will continue to do what I've done in the

past, be out of Canberra as much as I possibly can.

JOURNALIST: Some Ministers seem reluctant to hand over spending programs to the States?


PM: Yes, but there is nothing new about that. When I made the statements last year about the Special Premiers Conference program and processes, I made it clear that we had to make sure that we protected national standards. What

it was about was trying to ensure that if possible we could, by eliminating overlap and duplication, if we could do that, consistent with maintaining standards, then there should be the possibility of helping Australian consumers. I have made

that clear and obviously a number of my Ministers are going to make sure that those concerns are at the forefront of all that we do as Commonwealth and States in addressing these matters. We have got two conferences coming up, July and November, and in regard to the area of services, no

decisions will be made before November. And in between now and November not only will I and my Ministers be watching this closely but the Commonwealth officials, together with the States, will be examining it in detail to ensure that if there are changes they are changes that will be consistent with the standards I have set. That is no diminution in

services to the Australian people.

JOURNALIST: You sounded very much at the Community Centre earlier today that you were re-launching if not launching some sort of campaign. Are you starting ...

PM: Well I have been saying to my people during this year, I have been having a series of backbench dinners and I have said that really what we have got to be about is a two year campaign. And I have been talking about that to them. I mean you can speak to a number of my backbenchers who have

been there for dinners in the Prime Minister's suite and that is what I have been talking about. And I think that is really what we have got in front of us - a two year campaign - because it is quite clear at this point in the political

cycle that there is a vast unbridgeable chasm emerging between the policies of my Labor Government and the alternatives of the Tories. They are about entrenching privilege, they are about taking money from the poor and the

low and the middle incomes sections of Australia and transferring that to the rich, of denying the equality of opportunities in the areas of education and health. Now these are fundamental. They are about launching an ‘ unprecedented attack upon the ordinary people of this country and I am about leading the attack against that. And

I will be doing that over this next two years. Because rest assured that when the 1993 election comes, the people of Australia are going to have a quite fundamental choice. It is between a Labor Government which is committed to giving

equality of opportunity in this country, to ensuring that the resources of this country are directed to giving opportunity to those who need help, the lower income, the middle income people, and not having their resources

transferred from them to the already privileged. That's what this next election is going to be about.

JOURNALIST: Just back on the question of uranium?

PM: I have noticed how people are just talking about it everywhere today. It is fascinating.

JOURNALIST: At the Conference, if there was to be a debate on uranium or even now, what is you current disposition on the need for any policy change, that is an expansion of mining?

PM: Good try, well if it is up for debate you will hear me at the Conference.

JOURNALIST: It is really sensible politics to be confronting what is inevitably going to be such a divisive issue so soon after the leadership issue?

PM: Well, there are some obviously who would like it to happen, but not necessarily for the best of motives. But there are others who really believe that it ought to be discussed. Now there will be, as there always is before every Conference, there are discussions that go on between groups to see just what is going to be happening at the Conference. That will happen \in 1991 as it has happened in

every year before 1991 and we will see what happens then. The point I am making, I have been quite relaxed about it, is that I have not felt at any point that the future of this country absolutely depends upon a decision being made in

1991 on this issue. We have got a capacity in the existing mines to meet demand but if there is a view that it ought to be decided now, well OK let's have that discussion.

JOURNALIST: Is the Government locked into the budget that Mr Keating had been preparing or is there scope or is there discretion for difference ...

PM: The premise of your question is wrong. No one man, not Paul - and Paul wouldn't make the claim himself, to be fair to Paul. It wasn't a question of Mr Keating had been preparing a budget. There had been preliminary meetings of the Expenditure Review Committee, which Paul was a member,

in which the preliminary thinking and discussions had been sketched out and now Paul's not there. Those processes will continue and there will be now a new leadership on the economic side provided by John Kerin. But what you have got to remember is that the fundamental concepts will remain in place and they are two. One, that we have spent eight years

rectifying the financial incompetence and recklessness of Tory governments who had never been able to produce a surplus. By a reordering of priorities, and by the creation of a fairer and more efficient tax system we had moved what was nearly a $10 billion deficit to over a $8 billion

surplus. Now w e 've got a structural integrity about the budget and we are not going to see that undone. Obviously in the cyclical period now we are moved to a significant reduction in that surplus because of the two pincer movements of increased outlays associated with higher

unemployment and lower revenue associated with lower levels of activity. But the structural integrity of the budget remains there and we are not going to upset that, so that



when the cycle of economic activity moves upwards then that integrity of the budget will produce a surplus. Now that's point one. Point two, we recognise that in this period of lowered activity and greater hardship for people, we've got to look at those things and see if, for instance in the area of training and labour market programs, for example, whether any more needs to be done to ensure that those most adversely affected by the downturn in activity need more help. Now those are the twin considerations. They will continue to apply.

JOURNALIST: Finance Minister Willis, from his comments this morning, seemed to be worried about micro-economic reform as it impacted upon employment. Do you think his fears are warranted?

PM: Well Ralph was stating, with respect, an obvious concern and that is that by definition micro-economic reform very often requires, in immediate terms, a loss of employment. He was saying that when that comes at a time of

cyclical downturn well then that is something which exaggerates an unemployment problem. And we understand and I share that concern. But he wasn't saying that this means that you don't go ahead with the programs of micro-economic

reform. What you have to do is to go ahead with those programs of micro-economic reform because that means that in the longer term you’re going to create a stronger and more competitive economy with more secure employment opportunities. Secondly, as he observed, it means that in

that short term if there are unemployment problems associated with it, well you've got to make sure that the ameliorative programs that you put in place to deal with it are strong enough, as we've done in the case of TCF, as we've done in the case of the motor vehicle industry. And we'll be watching those programs that we've put in place with about $120 million programs, at least, in those areas.

We've got to see whether they are going to be adequate and that's what we'll be doing.

JOURNALIST: Do you see any room for infrastructure initiatives in this budget, Mr Hawke?

PM: Well we've already indicated that there will be infrastructure initiatives there. We've, as you know if you've been following these things, for example in the area of the National Rail Freight Corporation program, we've had

the Minister, Brown, already in discussions with his State counterparts to get the National Rail Freight Corporation going. And we've indicated that we are prepared to put in a significant amount of money and do it in this budget to get that particular micro-economic reform going.

JOURNALIST: Have you been able to gauge from your movements today that perhaps the Government or perhaps yourself has suffered any damage from the events of last week? .

PM: Well I have watched the reaction very closely, I hope you have and I'll be very interested to see what your


reaction of the same events has been as I have. Because I've been there, I've seen the reaction, you've seen them. I'll be very interested to see how you write them.