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Transcript of Press conference: International Airport Sydney: 15 August 1979



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Leader of the Opposition

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. . .^/Λ..ονήρ:ζχ_.~S,„ AVS ν.ΗΛΜΑ,„>·

P R E S S C O N F E R E N C E B Y B I L L H A Y D E N , M P , L E A D E R O F T H E O P P O S I T I O N , S Y D N E Y I N T E R N A T I O N A L A I R P O R T , 1 5 A U G U S T 1 9 7 9 .

( A f t e r s o m e g e n e r a l i n t r o d u c t o r y c o m m e n t s ).

P l a i n l y , t h e r e is d i s s a f f e c t i o n i n t h e G o v e r n m e n t , b o r d e r i n g o n r e v o l t . T h e l a t e s t e p i s o d e o f m i n i s t e r i a l b e h a v i o u r i s a c a u s e o f p u b l i c c o n c e r n . T h e r e i s ' t a l k o f a m i n i s t e r i a l r e s h u f f l e . T h e P r i m e M i n i s t e r i s c o n ­

f e s s i n g t h a t p a r t o f t h e f a i l u r e o f t h e G o v e r n m e n t is c o n c e r n e d w i t h c o m m u n i c a t i o n s . B u t t h e n h e g o e s o n t o b l a m e t h e p e o p l e b e c a u s e t h e y e x p e c t e d t o o m u c h .

T h i s is t h e c l a s s i c c a s e o f t h e - P r i m e .M i n i s t e r a l w a y s f i n d i n g s c a p e g o a t s . I s u s p e c t h e b l a m e s t h e p e o p l e f o r e x p e c t i n g h i m t o k e e p h i s p r o m i s e s . T h e s i m p l e f a c t i s t h a t w e h a v e a P r i m e M i n i s t e r w h o l a c k s m o r a l a u t h o r i t y w i t h i n t h e G o v e r n m e n t . H e l a c k s m o r a l a u t h o r i t y w i t h

h i s o w n P a r t y , h e l a c k s , m o r a l a u t h o r i t y w i t h t h e P a r l i a m e n t a n d h e l a c k s m o r a l a u t h o r i t y w i t h t h e p e o p l e o f A u s t r a l i a . .

T h e n e x t m a t t e r I w a n t t o r a i s e c o n c e r n s t h e P r i m e . M i n i s t e r ' s u s e o f t h e G o v e r n m e n t ' s B o e i n g 7 0 7 a i r c r a f t f o r h i s p e r s o n a l t r a v e l s a b r o a d . T h i s h a s c a u s e d a g r e a t d e a l o f p u b l i c a t t e n t i o n , a n d q u i t e p r o p e r l y s o . I t

r e p r e s e n t s a d i s p l a y o f s e l f - i n d u l g e n c e a n d e x t r a v a g a n c e t h a t c a n ' t b e j u s t i f i e d . I ' d l i k e t o m a k e i t c l e a r t h a t a L a b o r G o v e r n m e n t w o u l d , a s a n e a r l y m e a s u r e , t a k e s t e p s t o h a v e a p r o p e r a s s e s s m e n t o f w h e t h e r t h e a i r c r a f t c a n

b e u s e d i n t h e m o s t c o s t - e f f e c t i v e w a y b y t h e D e f e n c e F o r c e s . I f t h e y c o u l d n ' t b e u s e d i n t h a t w a y , t h e n t h e y ' d b e f l o g g e d . T h e y ' d b e s o l d . I c a n ' t j u s t i f y s u c h a n

e x t r a v a g a n t o u t l a y o f p u b l i c f u n d s a s i s c o n c e r n e d w i t h t h e s e a i r c r a f t .

___ 2/

2.

L e t m e m o v e o n q u i c k l y t o t h e t w o a r e a s I v i s i t e d w h i c h m a y b e o f s o m e i n t e r e s t t o y o u . T h e f i r s t is R u s s i a , w h i c h I ' v e j u s t l e f t o n m y w a y h o m e t h r o u g h S i n g a p o r e .

T h e t w o m a t t e r s in w h i c h I h a d t h e m o r e i m p o r t a n t d i s c u s s i o n s w e r e t r a d e a n d f o r e i g n r e l a t i o n s .

In t h e c a s e o f t r a d e , i t ' s q u i t e c l e a r t h a t A u s t r a l i a s t a n d s to g a i n h a n d s o m e l y in t h e m e d i u m t o l o n g e r - t e r m i f w e g o a b o u t , i n a d i l i g e n t a n d s e n s i b l e w a y , o u r t r a d e r e l a t i o n s w i t h M o s c o w . *

O n e a r e a w h e r e nevy o p t i o n s a r e o p e n i n g f o r A u s t r a l i a .

. a r i s e s f r o m a 3 0 0 0 m i l e r a i l l i n e b e i n g b u i l t a c r o s s Siberia. · _

P a r t o f t h e p r o j e c t i n v o l v e s t h e e s t a b l i s h m e n t o f a n u m b e r o f i n d u s t r i a l c o m p l e x e s , l a r g e i n l a n d a r e a s , . w h i c h w i l l d r a w o n . c o u n t r i e s in t h e P a c i f i c B a s i n r e g i o n f o r t r a d e i t e m s s u c h as f o o d , c l o t h i n g a n d a r a n g e o f m a n u f a c t u r e d g o o d s b e c a u s e t h e e c o n o m i c s w i l l be s u c h

t h a t i t w i l l be c h e a p e r f o r t h e R u s s i a n s to i m p o r t t h a n t o t r a n s - s h i p , e i t h e r a c r o s s t h e S o v i e t U n i o n , o r f r o m E u r o p e .

t .

. S o q u i t e c l e a r l y t h e r e a r e t r a d e a d v a n t a g e s f o r A u s t r a l i a

. a n d t h i s is a m a t t e r w h i c h I e x p l o r e d .

I h a d ! t a l k s i n t h e S o v i e t U n i o n i n r e l a t i o n t o f o r e i g n , a f f a i r s o n t w o m a t t e r s o f i m p o r t a n c e t o p e o p l e i n A u s t r a l i a

. T h e f i r s t c o n c e r n s t h e r i g h t s o f J e w i s h p e o p l e w h o a r e b e i n g d e n i e d e m i g r a t i o n r i g h t s f r o m R u s s i a , i n s o m e c a s e s f o r a s l o n g a s f i v e y e a r s i n s p i t e o f r e p e a t e d a p p l i ­

c a t i o n s . T h e o t h e r c o n c e r n s s o m e p e o p l e d e s c r i b e d a s C h r i s t i a n d i s s i d e n t s , w h o 1v e b e e n g a o l e d .

. . .3/

3.

I p u t i t v e r y f i r m l y t o t h e R u s s i a n a u t h o r i t i e s t h a t A u s t r a l i a n s w e r e c o n c e r n e d a b o u t t h e s e p e o p l e , c o n c e r n e d . a b o u t t h e i r r i g h t s , c o n c e r n e d t o s e e t h e m e x t e n d e d t h e p r i v i l e g e o f b e i n g a l l o w e d t o e m i g r a t e .

T h e R u s s i a n s p u t it q u i t e b l u n t l y t h a t w h i l e t h e y w e r e p r e p a r e d t o i n v e s t i g a t e t h e c a s e t h a t I p u t i n e a c h .

i n s t a n c e , i n a n y c a s e w h e r e p e o p l e e i t h e r a r e d e t a i n e d . s u b j e c t t o p r o c e e d i n g s u n d e r c r i m i n a l l a w , o r w h e r e t h e y h a d b e e n a s s o c i a t e d w i t h m a t t e r s o f S t a t e s e c r e c y , t h e n t h o s e p e o p l e w o u l d not. b e a l l o w e d t o l e a v e t h e c o u n t r y . H o w e v e r , in o t h e r c a s e s a r e a s o n a b l e a t t i t u d e c o u l d b e

t a k e n . . .

T h e n e x t m a t t e r I d i s c u s s e d w i t h t h e m c o n c e r n e d r e f u g e e s f r o m V i e t n a m . I a g a i n p u t it q u i t e f i r m l y t o t h o s e w i t h , w h o m I s p o k e t h a t V i e t n a m h a d d o n e a l o t o f d a m a g e t o h e r s t a n d i n g , h e r r e p u t a t i o n i n t e r n a t i o n a l l y , c e r t a i n l y w i t h i n

t h e A s i a n r e g i o n a n d w i t h A u s t r a l i a , in t h e w a y i n w h i c h . s h e ' d b e e n t r e a t i n g t h e s e p e o p l e . , .

I p u t it t h a t t h e R u s s i a n s s h o u l d u s e t h e i r i n f l u e n c e w i t h V i e t n a m t o e n s u r e t h a t t h e s o r t s o f e x p e r i e n c e s w e ' d s e e n i n t h e p a s t d i d n o t o c c u r a g a i n , t h a t V i e t n a m w o u l d a d h e r e t o a r e a s o n a b l e p r o g r a m o f r e f u g e e e m i g r a t i o n

a c c o r d i n g t o s o m e s o r t o f a r r a n g e m e n t n e g o t i a t e d t h r o u g h G e n e v a .

W e l l , t h e R u s s i a n s a g a i n r e j e c t e d t h i s a n d b l a m e d t h e w h o l e s i t u a t i o n o n t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s a n d C h i n a . I d i d n ' t e x p e c t t o c o n v e r t t h e R u s s i a n s , b u t if. p e o p l e k e e p m a k i n g c l e a r t h e i r d i s a p p r o v a l , then in Russia and other parts o f the world,

i n c l u d i n g o u r o w n , w h e r e t h e r e a r e b r e a c h e s o f f u n d a m e n t a l h u m a n r i g h t s , t h e n o v e r t i m e - - a n d I h o p e n o t t o o f a r in t h e f u t u r e -- t h e r e ' l l b e s o m e s o r t o f b e n e f i c i a l e f f e c t . H o p e f u l l y , t h e r e w i l l b e a t u r n a r o u n d in a t t i t u d e s .

...4/ . .

4.

In E u r o p e , t h e m a i n m a t t e r s I d i s c u s s e d w e r e in e n e r g y . a n d e c o n o m i c m a t t e r s . . '. '

In t h e c a s e o f e n e r g y , I s p o k e w i t h p e o p l e a t t h e ' I n t e r n a t i o n a l E n e r g y A g e n c y , a l s o p e o p l e i n v o l v e d in t h i s a r e a f r o m o t h e r s o u r c e s .

I c a m e a w a y q u i t e c o n v i n c e d t h a t t h e L a b o r P a r t y ’s r e s e r v a t i o n s a b o u t A u s t r a l i a ' s a c c e s s i o n t o t h e I E A . a r e q u i t e j u s t i f i e d . T h a t i s, i t s e e m s q u i t e c l e a r ^ t o m e t h a t t h e I E A i s q u i t e c a p a b l e o f b e i n g u s e d - - .

a n d I s u s p e c t , i n s o m e c a s e s , i_s b e i n g u s e d - - b y t h e r i c h c o u n t r i e s o f t h e w o r l d t o d £ f i n e p o l i c i e s a n d h a v e t h e m a p p l i e d t o t h e i r a d v a n t a g e , b u t n o t n e c e s s a r i l y t o m e d i u m - s i z e d c o u n t r i e s l i k e A u s t r a l i a .

L e t m e g i v e y o u t w o i l l u s t r a t i o n s o f t h i s . I n t h e f i r s t c a s e , t h e C o m m o n M a r k e t c o u n t r i e s h a v e g i v e n a n u n d e r ­

t a k i n g n o t t o i n c r e a s e t h i s y e a r t h e i m p o r t o f o i l , i n a g g r e g a t e , o v e r t h e l e v e l o f i m p o r t s l a s t y e a r .

T h a t s o u n d s e n o r m o u s l y . r e a s o n a b l e o n t h e s u r f a c e , b u t '<(/ t h e f a c t i s t h a t G r e a t B r i t a i n i s g o i n g t o i n c r e a s e

d o m e s t i c p r o d u c t i o n o f o i l f r o m t h e N o r t h S e a . T h a t m e a n s t h e t o t a l v o l u m e o f o i l a v a i l a b l e t o E E C c o u n t r i e s w i l l g r o w a n d , a c c o r d i n g l y , t h e r e w i l l n o t b e a r e d u c t i o n i n t o t a l c o n s u m p t i o n a s w e ' v e b e e n l e d t o b e l i e v e .

T h e o t h e r c a s e c o n c e r n s a m j a o r i n d u s t r i a l i s e d E u r o p e a n c o u n t r y , w h i c h , i t i s s t r o n g l y s u s p e c t e d , h a s b e e n b u y i n g ' s p o t 1 p u r c h a s e s a n d s t o c k p i l i n g t o b u i l d u p a s u b s t a n t i a l . r e s e r v e , a n d h a s b e e n d o i n g t h i s s i n c e b e f o r e t h e

o b l i g a t i o n s o f t h e I E A w e r e f i n a l i s e d . .

. . .5/

5.

If t h e s e s u s p i c i o n s a r e t r u e , c o m m i t m e n t s to c u t b a c k , o r t o h o l d c o n s u m p t i o n l e v e l s , b e c o m e s o m e w h a t m e a n i n g l e s s in t e r m s o f i m p o r t s f o r t h e f o r t h c o m i n g y e a r . F i n a l l y , in r e l a t i o n t o e c o n o m i c m a t t e r s , I c a m e a w a y q u i t e -

c o n f i r m e d i n m y c o n v i c t i o n t h a t t h e F r a s e r G o v e r n m e n t h a s t h i s c o u n t r y h e a d i n g in t h e w r o n g d i r e c t i o n .

J u s t as t h e P r i m e M i n i s t e r is m a k i n g a s h a m b l e s o f h i s G o v e r n m e n t , h e ' s m a k i n g a s h a m b l e s o f t h e e c o n o m y 1 o f t h i s c o u n t r y .

W h a t is c l e a r f r o m m y d i s c u s s i o n s a t t h e O E C D a n d w i t h s e n i o r o f f i c i a l s r e s p o n s i b l e f o r e c o n o m i c m a n a g e m e n t i n E u r o p e a n G o v e r n m e n t s , a n d o t h e r s o u r c e s , is t h a t t h e w o r l d is l o o k i n g a t d e p r e s s e d e c o n o m i c a c t i v i t y t o a b o u t

1 9 3 5 a t l e a s t . .

T h i s is g o i n g t o b e i n t e n s i f i e d b y t h e p r o b l e m s o f e n e r g y s u p p l y .

N o w i t is q u i t e w r o n g , q u i t e u n w i s e , f o r o u r G o v e r n m e n t . t o be a p p l y i n g s e v e r e e c o n o m i c m e a s u r e s w h i c h w i l l r e s u l t in m o r e u n e m p l o y m e n t b e f o r e t h e s e s o r t s o f b r i c k s s t a r t t o h i t us. T h a t w i l l j u s t i n t e n s i f y t h e p r o b l e m s f l o w i n g

f r o m G o v e r n m e n t p o l i c i e s .

It is q u i t e i l l - i n f o r m e d f o r t h e D e p u t y P r i m e M i n i s t e r ,

M r A n t h o n y , t o b e c a l l i n g f o r t o u g h e r m e a s u r e s . T h i n g s a r e t o u g h e n o u g h , a n d c l e a r l y t h e y ' r e g o i n g t o b e t o u g h e r s t i l l .

W h a t I ' m a r g u i n g -is t h a t t h e r e ' s g o t t o b e a c h a n g e in e c o n o m i c p o l i c y , a s s o c i a l d e m o c r a t s in v a r i o u s p a r t s o f E u r o p e a r e a r g u i n g , e s p e c i a l l y in F r a n c e , t h a t t h e r e s h o u l d b e a n e x p a n s i o n o f e c o n o m i c a c t i v i t y .

. . . 6/

6.

G o v e r n m e n t s s h o u l d b e l o o k i n g t o i m p r o v i n g t h e p r o d u c t i v e o u t p u t o f i n d u s t r y . T h i s is t h e b e s t w a y t o r e d u c e c o s t s , t o . b r i n g d o w n u n e m p l o y m e n t , t o g e t ■

t h e e c o n o m i e s o f t h e w o r l d m o v i n g a g a i n , a n d to a v e r t t h e s o r t o f r e c e s s i o n t h a t s e e m s t o . b e l o o m i n g .

Q : W h e r e is A u s t r a l i a h e a d i n g ? C a n w e a s k t h a t

q u e s t i o n n o w t h a t t h e cameras a r e r o l l i n g : ?

A: In t e r m s o f e c o n o m i c m a n a g e m e n t , i t ' s q u i t e c l e a r

t h a t t h e s o r t s o f p o l i c i e s t h a t t h e G o v e r n m e n t is. a p p l y i n g a r e g o i n g t o i n t e n s i f y t h e e c o n o m i c s e v e r i t y t h a t w i l l b e f l o w i n g f r o m d e p r e s s e d e c o n o m i c a c t i v i t y o v e r s e a s . W e ' r e f a c i n g a s i t u a t i o n w h e r e , b e t w e e n n o w a n d 1 9 8 5 , t h e r e ' s n o t g o i n g to b e m u c h . e c o n o m i c a c t i v i t y a t a l l . W i t h t h o s e c i r c u m s t a n c e s , w e d o n ' t w a n t a s i t u ­

a t i o n w h e r e G o v e r n m e n t p o l i c y i n t e n s i f i e s t h e s o r t o f r e c e s s i o n t h a t w o r l d c o n d i t i o n s s u g g e s t . W h a t I ' m s a y i n g is t h a t w e s h o u l d b e e x p a n d i n g t h e e c o n o m y , t r y i n g t o c r e a t e j o b o p p o r t u n i t i e s i n s t e a d o f a d d i n g t o t h e s o r t o f

r e c e s s i o n w e ' v e h a d for. t h e l a s t t h r e e a n d a h a l f y e a r s , a n d w h i c h w i l l b e w o r s e n e d b y w o r l d c o n d i t i o n s . W e c a n a v o i d t h e s e s o r t s o f c o n d i t i o n s b u t t h a t c a l l s f o r a l t e r ­

n a t i v e e c o n o m i c p o l i c i e s . .

Q: W h a t s p e c i f i c a c t i o n in t h e B u d g e t n e x t w e e k ?

A: A n u m b e r o f t h i n g s s h o u l d b e d o n e : d i r e c t a n d i n d i r e c t

t a x c u t s ; c o n s t r u c t i o n w o r k s b y G o v e r n m e n t in s u p p o r t o f t h e p r i v a t e s e c t o r , so j o b s a r e g e n e r a t e d ; t h e c o n c e p t o f a c o m m u n i t y s e r v i c e c o r p s s o t h a t y o u n g p e o p l e c a n b e p r o v i d e d w i t h m e a n i n g f u l j o b s a t p r o p e r a w a r d r a t e s o f p a y ;

a n d a s u b s i d y f o r t h e e m p l o y m e n t o f p e o p l e w h o a r e n e t t a d d i t i o n s t o t h e w o r k f o r c e .

. . .7/

7.

Nov;, unless we do those sorts of things we're going to see unemployment in January of the order of 550,000. That, in my view, is a reasonably conservative estimate.

Q: Just how serious is the position of the Prime Minister?

A: The Prime M inister is a man who now finds he lacks moral authority.

He lacks moral authority with his own Party, the Parliament and with the Australian people.. . .

He's in a situation where there's a serious rift in the Coalition, wh i c h is worsening.

He's facing dissaffection on his own backbench to the point w h e r e it's almost in revolt. He has problems about the conduct of one of his Ministers. He's having a special Cabinet meeting to review w h y things are continuing to go so bad. .

Now he doesn't need a special meeting w ork out why things are bad for him. They're bad because the Government has failed to fulfill its promises. It has broken promises, it has misled the Au s t r a l i a n people, and m ost of all it's failed in economic management.

Q: What do you expect from the Budget next week?

A: I don't know w hat to expect. Mr Fraser's economic management, is

somewhat unpredictable and pretty erratic. What I believe should take place is a policy designed to increase employment, to improve business activity and to stimulate the economy in such a way as to avoid new inflationary pressures. Now if you increase the volume of goods

produced you won't be increasing costs, but you will be increasing job opportunities and helping to get the economy going.

W hat I'm worried about is that we're facing a situation where, until 1985, economic a ctivity is going to be depressed, so we don't w a n t e conomic policy from Mr Fraser w hich.is going to aggravate that sort of recession. We've got to work out policies

...8/

8 .

that will avoid it. We've got to try new ways for economic

recovery. That's the sort of program I've been talking about

for some time now.

Q: Are you prepared to challenge Mr Fraser to an election on Q the Budget;

A: We don't believe there is any need for an election before

its due time next year. Mr Fraser ought to allow the Parliament to run its full term. The people of this country

are election weary. If we have an early election, it will be for one reason and one reason only: that Mr Fraser is

frightened of an election in 1980. He knows things will be much worse. He will be confessing by his action that the

economic situation will be much more serious.

The whole thrust of the Fraser Government's economic policies are designed to deepen the recession. A consequence of that is

an increase in unemployment, further failure in business, and

tougher conditions generally. And it's avoidable.

We should not be gloomy about this.

We should be optimistic about this country's prospects.

It has so many resources, so many people available and wanting jobs. .

It's a matter of government getting the policies to bring the

two things together so we can be productive again.

P Q: Could you see all this costing Mr Fraser Government.

A: That's more than I can forecast. It's clear Mr Fraser's Government is in a shambles and that Mr Fraser is in serious

trouble. I think he's moving rapidly to a position of crisis, political crisis. He's lost the confidence of a large number

. . .9/

9 .

of his'own members. There is clear disaffection in the

government's ranks. We've got to the situation where backbenchers

are virtually dictating to the Prime Minister of this country

what he's going to do. And that means he's lost all moral authority. .

Q: On the question of tax cuts, Mr Bjelke-Petersen has called

for a 2 1/2- 3% cut across the board in income tax. Do you agree . p

with those figures.

A: I don't find Mr Bjelke-Petersen the best fiscal adviser in this country. I prefer to do my own figures, and they're somewhat

different. I'm proposing there should be substantial cuts in

direct tax, income tax, and there also should be a cut in indirect taxes to help bring down costs and bring down inflation.

We reckon there's somewhere near $1,000 million could be applied for these purposes. There would be alternative revenue measures

that wouldn't affect the ordinary wage and salary earner, like an excess profits tax on the big resource development companies, or a

levy on the oil companies, who are getting very handsome profits -

people who ought to be paying their way and aren't. Because

they aren't, the average family is paying more tax than it should b e .

Q: But what about income tax cuts'? Don't you want to see income tax cuts.

A: I want to see cuts. That’s direct tax, tax you and I pay.

That's part of the program of economic recovery we've been

talking about. Cuts in personal tax, income tax, mean people

will have more money to spend. They'll buy more goods, and this

will help get the economy going again.

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10.

Q: Mr Lynch has explained the Government's poor stocks

at the moment as a mid-term slump. Do you think that's a fair comment? . .

A: Oh yes, so long as you're prepared to accept that it's been a very long mid-term. It started around September last

year and has just become worse and worse. The simple fact is

the Australian public is telling the Government they want a

change of economic policy. They've had enough. They don't want to be hammered into the ground any more. Yet Mr Anthony

is demanding even tougher measures. Now that's inappropriate and will go on doing unnecessary damage to the Australian

economy, and put unnecessary strain on our social fabric.

Q : You've been severely critical of Mr Fraser. Should he P resign as Prime Minister. '

A: I think it would be a good idea. It would- be good for

Australia. I'm not prepared to start punting, though, that he's going.to follow my advice. But if he were genuinely

concerned about this country he'd retire to Nareen.

Q: Are you suggesting then that he's the best thing that P Labor's got going for it. .

A: I'm not suggesting that at all. I'm suggesting h e ’s

the worst thing the country's got going for it.

ENDS.