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Brian Burke; ALP Leadership; Waterfront reform



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Leader of the Opposition

28 April 1991 TRANSCR/NM/0003S

TRANSCRIPT OF DR JOHN HEWSON, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION DOORSTOP INTERVIEW 70 PHILLIP STREET, SYDNEY

E & Ο E - PROOF COPY ONLY

Subjects: Brian Burke; ALP Leadership; Waterfront reform.

Hewson:

I will just make a short statement and then take some

questions.

There are two very important opportunities for the Prime Minister right now to show some leadership. The first relates to Brian Burke and his ambassadorial position. He himself has now admitted that if he was any other ambassador he would have

to stand down by now. I think that's a clear signal there that the Prime Minister ought to act. and this morning Senator Evans on the Sunday Programme was clearly distancing himself from Bob Hawke and the mateship issue and has now completely undermined the Prime Minister's position in relation to Brian

Burke.

The second issue relates to wage determination and this waterfront reform package. What we want now is not the politicisation of this issue, what we need is the Prime

Minister to show some leadership and the only way he can do that is to make sure that we move now, in these circumstances to genuine enterprise bargaining. The only way this country is going to become internationally competitive is to re­

establish wage negotiations at the enterprise level. The sooner the Prime Minister shows that sort of leadership instead of living in a timewarp riding in on his white charger, as if he was back in the days when he was head of the ACTU trying, to pull of some miracle deal. Those days have

passed. He's got to provide some leadership. The sort of deal that he stitched up in the course of the last few days can't be afforded by the whole nation and should not be a role model for the whole nation. The only solution in the present

circumstance is genuine enterprise bargaining.

Now I'll take some questions.

Jrnlst:

COMMONW EALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY M ICAH

What do you think was the motivation behind the Burke

admission?

Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 Phone 77 4022

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Hewsοni

Well, I don't know, I've no idea but I think he's established really what we've been saying and Senator Evans has confirmed that this morning. These things have to be case by case. In the case of Brian Burke there's damage done to our

international reputation and it continues to be done. We don't question, of course, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, but where he's doing international damage to our reputation, where he can't really effectively perform

those functions of that job, he should stand down until the process of the West Australian corruption inquiry is complete.

Jrnlsti

Wouldn't you say that the Federal Government has been standing by that principle of innocent until proven guilty?

Hewson:

No, not at all. There are plenty of instances where people have been in exactly the same sort of situation and they've stood down. We've used a number of political examples from both sides of the spectrum, whether it was Phillip Lynch or

Neville Wran, those two examples, Mick Young - they all stood down until they were cleared and I think that' s the

appropriate case to apply in this circumstance. If you look at this as a particular case, Brian Burke continuing in that position does international damage to Australia and he is increasingly incapable of performing that job. There are

something like 12 separate items under review in the West Australian corruption commission, 9 of which could well call him for evidence one way or another. At about 3 weeks a time

that's about 27 weeks out of the next 12 months. Clearly, on those two criteria alone he should stand down until he clears his name.

Jrnlsti

...inaudible...

Hewson:

Senator Evans actually said something more important - that he thought that it ought to be done on a case by case basis, which is what we've argued all the way through, and in saying that he has completely differentiated his product from that of

the Prime Minister. He has left Prime Minister Hawke and his mate Brian Burke out there on a limb and he's preparing the ground, I believe to dump Burke in the course of this week.

Jrnlst:

Shouldn't Fred Chaney also be under scrutiny? Didn't his fundraising ...inaudible...' . . . / 3

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Hewson:

No, the only person who's run that argument is Paul Keating. When Paul Keating runs an argument like that you want to ask why. He's trying to divert attention from the fact that some very serious allegations have been made in relation to the

Prime Minister and the conduct of a Labor Government in Western Australia. He tried to muddy the waters by focusing on Fred Chaney. I've been assured Fred Chaney did not breach any rules of fundraising; he did not get any money. The money

went to the Party. They are not at all comparable situations. It is just an attempt by Paul Keating to muddy the waters.

Jrnlsts

...inaudible... (question relates to waterfront reform).

Hewson:

Well, the waterfront reform process didn't just break down in the last few days which is the impression that they've tried to create. The waterfront reform process hasn't been running on an effective basis for the last 12 months. The Government

is well behind its objectives and there are several key elements that ought to be readdressed. One is enterprise bargaining on the waterfront - an essential element of an effective solution to that problem. The second is privatising the Port Authorities which is obviously something needs to be done in conjunction with the States of fundamental importance. And thirdly you've got to create the circumstances for genuine

competition on the waterfront as an individual port and between ports. Now that waterfront agenda is there. It can be implemented - other countries have done it. I was in New Zealand last week and I saw the staggering situation of the

comparison between, say the Auckland waterfront and the Melbourne ports. One ship, the La Perouse, which left the Melbourne waterfront some time ago was loaded at a rate of about 8 to 10 containers an hour. That ship unloaded in Auckland at about 42 containers an hour. That gives you an

idea of just how far off the pace we are in Australia on the waterfront. And you don't go dealing with that situation by throwing around wage deals which the country can't afford.

Jrnlst:

How would you deal with it?

Hewson:

Well, you proceed down the path that I've just identified. Three separate issues that have to be dealt with in order to get genuine waterfront reform. There's an element of the Prime Minister sort of capturing a set of circumstances trying

to show that only he can bring about a resolution to this

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Hewson:

No, the only person who's run that argument is Paul Keating. When Paul Keating runs an argument like that you want to ask why. He's trying to divert attention from the fact that some very serious allegations have been made in relation to the

Prime Minister and the conduct of a Labor Government in Western Australia. He tried to muddy the waters by focusing on Fred Chaney. I've been assured Fred Chaney did not breach any rules of fundraising; he did not get any money. The money

went to the Party. They are not at all comparable situations. It is just an attempt by Paul Keating to muddy the waters.

Jrnlsts

...inaudible... (question relates to waterfront reform).

Hewson:

Well, the waterfront reform process didn't just break down in the last few days which is the impression that they've tried to create. The waterfront reform process hasn't been running on an effective basis for the last 12 months. The Government

is well behind its objectives and there are several key elements that ought to be readdressed. One is enterprise bargaining on the waterfront - an essential element of an effective solution to that problem. The second is privatising the Port Authorities which is obviously something needs to be done in conjunction with the States of fundamental importance. And thirdly you've got to create the circumstances for genuine

competition on the waterfront as an individual port and between ports. Now that waterfront agenda is there. It can be implemented - other countries have done it. I was in New Zealand last week and I saw the staggering situation of the

comparison between, say the Auckland waterfront and the Melbourne ports. One ship, the La Perouse, which left the Melbourne waterfront some time ago was loaded at a rate of about 8 to 10 containers an hour. That ship unloaded in Auckland at about 42 containers an hour. That gives you an

idea of just how far off the pace we are in Australia on the waterfront. And you don't go dealing with that situation by throwing around wage deals which the country can't afford.

Jrnlst:

How would you deal with it?

Hewson:

Well, you proceed down the path that I've just identified. Three separate issues that have to be dealt with in order to get genuine waterfront reform. There's an element of the Prime Minister sort of capturing a set of circumstances trying

to show that only he can bring about a resolution to this

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problem. You've got to step back from that and say what's the nature of the problem. Did he really solve anything? What has he contributed in terms of waterfront reform? The process has stalled. He has been held to ransom. He's done a deal, really, with the ACTU to offer an expensive wage package on the waterfront which doesn't really bring you any reforms - to

the extent that its linked to productivity, all that

productivity is to go to workers - that isn't right. If we're going to get internationally competitive we've got to have a way of sharing productivity gains so that there is investment and there is a return to companies and a return to workers -

and it's a fair sharing of those productivity gains that is an essential element. All that has been lost in terms of the way the Prime Minister has gone about this deal.

J r n l s t :

What do you think of the package that was offered on Friday to the employers .,.inaudible...?

Hewson;

Well, I think it puts employers in a very difficult position in the sense that the Prime Minister has put his imprimatur on it, along with the ACTU, -and they're basically being told to fall into line whereas the fact is we should step back and see

just how badly our waterfronts are performing; how far off the pace we are performing; how much they've fallen short of best international practice. Then ask some questions whether it's appropriate to pay away a substantial wage increase, and it's

$12 plus 4% in July plus two more wage increases next year. For what? I mean sure, you are settling a dispute at a price, but it's not necessarily in the best interests of either waterfront reform and if it becomes a model for the

nation as a whole it is not in the best interests of the

nation that employers around the country are expected to do a similar sort of deal in order to save this thing called the Accord. The Accord has failed. The best thing you can do in those circumstances is to recognise that the Accord has failed

and go to an alternative wage determination system which is genuine enterprise bargaining - not the sort of enterprise bargaining system that Bill Kelty and Bob Hawke are talking about, but genuine enterprise bargaining and putting it back to the workplace.

Jrnlst:

What would your advice be to employers on the waterfront?

Hewson:

I am not going to give them my advice. They have to make up their own minds in the circumstances that have been somewhat artificially created by the Prime Minister. My view is that

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