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Transcript of Dr John Hewson MP interview on 'the world today' ABC Melbourne



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Leader of the Opposition

1 August 1991 REF: TRANSCR\0234\BQ

TRANSCRIPT OF DR JOHN HEWSON, MP INTERVIEW ON 'THE WORLD TODAY' ABC RADIO, MELBOURNE

E & Ο E - PROOF COPY ONLY

SUBJECTS: Foreign affairs, Senator Evans, US/Australia relations, wheat subsidies.

Palfreyman:

Well the Opposition Leader Dr Hewson has attacked comments by Foreign Minister Senator Evans, describing a US wheat sale to China as an act of a hostile country. Dr Hews on described

Senator Evans' comments as inflammatory. Senator Evans said yesterday that the United States decision to sell subsidised wheat to China, a major Australia market as we mentioned, was not the act of an ally or a friend but that of a hostile country.

The Opposition Leader, Dr Hews on, said today that he did not believe the US action breached President Bush's assurances to Prime Minister Hawke that the US would not harm Australia's traditional markets. Dr Hewson spoke in Melbourne this morning to Tony Hill.

Hewson:

I think Senator Evans has gone over the top and in saying that I am not downplaying the significance of our concern about US subsidised wheat sales around the world. There is no daylight between us and the Government on it. But I think there is a way to handle an issue like this and if you compare what Senator Evans said with the joint release by Dr Blewett and Simon Crean you get a quite more measured approach, if you like, by Simon Crean and Dr Blewett.

Now the point is that there is a consultative procedure that can take place. It is going to take place within a couple of weeks, that is the place in which to make the comments and to argue the case.

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REF: TRANSCR\0234\BQ 2.

Hill:

What does that indicate to you, the fact that Senator Evans comments are so much stronger than those of Dr Blewett and Mr Crean?

Hewson:

Well he typically has that sort of attitude, doesn't he. He tends to overstate most things and exaggerate things. I believe very strongly in putting the case as I did recently in the United States from the President down about our concern about

agricultural subsidisation by the United States under their Export Enhancement Program. But I don't think making those sort of quite inflammatory statements are going to get the job done.

Hill:

So are you concerned about the effect of Senator Evans comments on the relationship?

Hewson:

Look I don't know that it would go that far. I think the

Americans are probably as used to Senator Evans as everyone else is . But I do say that the statement by Simon Crean and Neal

Blewett was a much more measured statement. It still made the same points and it made them in an appropriate way and as I say in current circumstances it is not a time for calling people names. It is a time for getting to the bottom of the problem.

Hill:

But does this move by the United States break President Bush's assurances that the United States would not harm Australia's traditional markets?

Hewson:

I think that is why the consultative process is important to determine the precise nature of the commitment, as you used it, the statement that President Bush made to the Prime Minister, that is why I think the difference between the Blewett/Crean

statement and the Evans statement is important because they don't seem to say that it did whereas Evans seems to (imply that it was a breach. Now, again, there is some uncertainty about what was meant by the Bush statement, it is better to clarify that in the

consultative process.

REF: TRANSCR\0234\BQ 3.

Hill:

What is your view of that?

Hewson:

Look I doubt whether it did breach the undertaking that President Bush gave although ...

Hill:

How can you tell that to Australian wheat farmers though?

Hewson:

Australian wheat farmers want us to act in their best interests. We will put the case in as strong a terms as we can, as I say I

recently did it from the President of the United States down. But a next stage to put that argument is in the consultative process. It has been brought forward. It is going to get

underway in a couple of weeks and in that context we should

determine precisely the nature of what was meant by the Bush statement, what is meant by traditional export markets, what damage is done - get them to understand the damage that is done by subsidising agricultural exports like wheat to China, or wheat to Kuwait as was done in the recent past.

Palfreyman:

Opposition Leader John Hewson in Melbourne this morning.

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