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Prime Minister at Greek club Sydney plus questions and answers



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PRESS OFFICE TRANSCRIPT MONDAY 13 OCTOBER 1980

PRIME MINISTER AT GREEK CLUB SYDNEY PLUS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

The next few days are going to be important and there are only two things that I would like to say. I think Australia has changed enormously from the Australia of 30 or 40 years ago. And now as a result of many thousands of people who have come here

from Greece and from Italy and from many other countries around the world, we have a much better nation that it used once to be. We were a somewhat narrow, I think inward looking Anglo Saxon Celtic community by and large up to the Second World War. There were many who had come to us from other lands but their numbers were small

compared with those who had come from Britain or the British Isles. But in the years since the war many people have come here from Greece, from Italy and nearly every country in Europe - from Eastern Europe - refugees from the Soviet Union and they have helped us to

build a much better country and not only in material things, not only a wealthier country but everyone'has brought with them part of their history, part of their culture, part of their traditions. I think or I suspect up to the 1930s, which some of you might remember, and I can just remember as a child, people would have

said - well to be a good Australian you've got to cut your links with the past and in cutting the links with the past - be Australian and that's it. But I think that is quite the wrong way of looking at it. I believe that people who maintain an affection and a regard and a love for the land of their birth or the land of their fathers

is totally consistent with being good and patriotic Australians. Indeed I believe people are better Australians for the very fact that they still maintain an affection and a love for the land of their origin. Over the last five years as a result of the Galbally Report we introduced the post arrival programme. I'm glad we have done it but I wish we had done it 20 years ago when it first should have been done. But as a result there are better services available. There is better support for resource centres and for the welfare

committees of different ethnic communities themselves and also the beginnings of a broader based education in Australian schools. In my day it was English History or Australian History - a bit of it. But it is important for young Australians to learn not just about that part of our history but to learn something about the origins of all Australians. And so we need a much greater change

in the school systems and curriculums than we have had. As a result of the Galbally Report that has started but it is only at the moment a start. In my last policy speech I said we were going to support ethnic community schools because with all the different people that have come here it is not possible for all the languages and all the history I suppose to be taught in the normal school system and there are a number of communities that maintain their own schools for that very reason, so that their children will know and understand their

language and their history and their culture. And now we are going to support those schools and again I think that is a useful advance. In relation to this election I think the central issues really are economic ones. I think you know the policies that we have adopted over five years. They have sometimes been difficult - policies of restraint. But we believe that governments have got to live within

their means, just as I am sure that you understand and know that you and your families have to live within your means. If suddenly your supermarket bill doubled over the course of a year of your expenditure doubles in maintaining your own household with basically the same income - well as a family you get into difficulties and it

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takes a fair while to pay off those debts. And it is very much the same as a nation. Now anything that I, as a politician, promise to do - I haven't got a cargo cult tree up in the sky, which enables me to drag down the resources to do it. I have to

take those resources from you first and from all other tax paying Australians. So anyone who promises to do something has to take the resources from Australians first, because the productive wealth of this country and the taxes that come from it, come from all Australians and politicians have nothing of their own. Therefore

they have nothing to promise except what they first want to take ' away from all Australian citizens. Our ...political opponents are promising a somewhat miraculous world. They are promising to be able to increase expenditure, to lower taxation, to keep inflation down, to keep control of interest rates. And these things just · do not match. The only way you can keep taxation" down is to keep expenditure down. And if you are.not going to keep expenditure down taxation has go to or you have to go to a printing press. And

they are just the simple truths which are at the heart of the matter. And it is because those simple truths have been breached that I believe, and I have said, that our opponents would move inflation to 20 per cent. They moved it from 5 per cent to llh per cent last

time, on some measures to over 20 per cent. Now starting at 10 per cent because it is a more inflationary world, I have only suggested that they double it. If they multiplied it by 3 or 4 times last time I can't see why they shouldn't double it this time because

they are just as good at spending money as they were. So I think I have been rather modest in suggesting that figure of 20 per cent. - But it would be tragic for Australian families - the $3 a week tax cut is translated then into a supermarket bill which from $45 would go up to $54. And that makes $3 a week pretty thin. . . Over the last

few days there have been arguments about additional taxes and Mr. Hayden has changed his mind once or twice. I have about ten statement from him saying he is committed to capital gains taxes and wealth taxes. Then there was the statement that he would do it but not just yet. Then there was a statement on the ABC that he would do it within three years - a very firm categoric one. And I suppose the

names are well named - capital gains and wealth taxes because it makes people think that only the wealthy would pay the tax. But when he was explaining, and I don't think Mr. Wran could have read this - when Mr. Hayden was explaining how a capital gains tax would work he took the example of a house and said you buy a house for a

certain figure. You sell if for a higher figure some years later and you pay tax on the difference. Now a house if the family home and all the rest. And I have that quotation - it's in a statement he made quite recently, quite firmly and quite categorically. And the wealth tax - Mr. Hayden's Deputy, Mr. Bowen said he wants to raise $1,500 million on the wealth tax. The only way he can do that

is by taxing the house, the belongings, the savings, the building society deposits of every Australian family. And some of the measures of that taxation would destroy the livelihood. One of the great things in this country is that people have been able to come

from other lands and by their great hard work and people from Greece and from Italy and from many other lands around the world have shown this is so. They have been able to work and advance and get on and make something for themselves and for their families. And many have built up quite large businesses. Some have built up

great businesses. But they have been able to do it because they have been able to, in our society, have the incentive, and the encourageme to build for themselves, but as I would believe basically for their families and for their children. Because I think that is the motivating force really in all of us. We don't just work for

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ourselves. We work for something better than that and for something larger than that. And all these taxes on homes and family wealth and family assets. Wealth is a silly term because it makes you think that it is only going to apply to people living in millionaire row or something. But there are not enough of them to collect all that. much. So I would really just ask you to think of all these things when you come to October 18. Because I believe and I'm a violent partisan about Australia. I can understand you

loving Greece and other people loving other countries of Europe because they are the lands of your origins. But Australia is the only country that I have really known. I have visited other places. And I do believe Australia is the best country in the world. I

certainly believe Australia is the best country in the world in which to bring up children. And it is our task, yours and mine, because Government is not just the business of Prime Ministers with colleagues as we have here and Jack Birney, who has.done so much for this electorate. It is the task of Government and all Australians working

together for a common objective and a common purpose trying to make this a better place than it once was. And when we leave the stage when I and my colleagues leave the stage and you hand over to your children, I would believe and hope, with our common objective to

leave this a better country than when we started. And that is building for the future. That is our objective. I know some of the things that we have done over the last five years have been difficult. They have been tough and I have never pretended it would

be anything else. But we were taking over something which was like a company in bankruptcy or in liquidation and we had to pull it up by its bootstraps, working with Australians, to rebuild again, the profitability of Australian enterprise and the jobs for Australian men and women who want to work, so that people could make profits,

so that people can look after themselves; so that we can make this an attractive place for more people to come from your former home lands and from many other countries around the world. I believe we have made great progress. But I think it's a bit like a builder perhaps who has been digging the trenches for the foundations and you build the foundations - you put the foundations in place and

then you lay.the concrete slabs for the floor. And up to this point I think that is the work that has been going on. Over the next few years we can build the edifice on top of strong foundations so long as we are prepared and able to carry on with the policies that we have. So that is what I hope we will be able to do and that is what I believe we will be able to do after October 18. And if I

could say in spite of all these polls that people get so bemused about, I have had one overriding conviction that we would and will win on October 18 and that we will win very adequately for one · very particular reason, because I have enormous confidence in the

common sense and the understanding of Australian men and women no matter where they originally came from and no matter how long they have been in this country, the common sense of Australians no matter where they come from, and in their capacity to judge what is best

for their families and for this country. And so I would like to thank you very much for the opportunity to say a few words. I did think I was only coming for a beer and the beer is very good. But thank you for allowing me to interrupt your evening here for a few moments. .

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Ques t i o n

Prime Minister may I ask concerning your reaction to the proposal mentioned in the platform of the Labor Party in the policy speech to remove the Department of Immigration and place it under the Department of Foreign Affairs. Could you let us know what your

reaction is to that?

Prime Minister

I think that would be a very great pity. We have established the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs for two very specific reasons. We wanted the Department to give greater attention to what happens to people after they get to Australia. In years past

it had been a department involved in bringing people to this country but with not enough attention paid to them after they had come here. And the whole Galbally Report was based around establishing appropriate and better devised post arrival services. But we also

believe that the Department responsible for that should be the -Department responsible for maintaining links between Australia and Greeks in Australia and Greeks in Greece, because people want to go to one Department that can look after their concerns within Australia

I think it's much the best if they can also go to that Department if they want to say - well look I've got a relative, I've got a brother or a father or mother or whatever who would like to come here. And if all this can be done in one framework within one Department, I believe that moving the immigration side to the Department of Foreign Affairs is the first step to ending any migration programmes that virtually happened in the early part of

the 1970s. What we have done over recent years is to extend the total numbers. The net figure is now 95,000. And as economic strength emerges even more strongly in Australia we would hope · to push that up a bit higher still. So we want to keep one Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs.

Question

Prime Minister when we win the election I hope that we have a slight majority. You've got the mandate o.f the people and I know what the Liberal Party believes and we'd like to see some steps taken against (inaud) the unions (inaud). I know it might be a very difficult task and I realise that (inaud) I wouldn't say a very you know what I mean - a very successful (inaud). When you

live in a democratic society the law for certain part of that society should apply to everyone and not to a few people (inaud).

Prime Minister

Well I agree with that completely and there are two things here. What you can do with consulatation with better relationships within an industry - within a firm. And I think there is room for much greater improvement in that area. But you also need a sensible

framework of industrial law, because many unions are enormously powerful. Some have annual incomes of $8 or $10 million a year. But we have made a number of changes to the law designed to make trade unions more responsive to their members. For the first time

for example trade unions are now - this has only been enforced very recently - trade unions are required to give an annual financial account of their members. And I think members of the AMSWU for example will be surprised to learn that the annual income of their

union is between that $8 and $10 million. And they'll wonder where

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Prime Minister (continued)

it's all going and how it's being spent. And they'll probably agitating for reduced union dues. But the whole area is bedevilled because some parts of it is within the State jurisdiction and some parts of it is within ours. We've taken to ourselves much stronger powers in relation to Commonwealth public servants, where we have greatest power. You will have, in this city a year or so ago -

the problems with Telecom, the problems with the Redfern Mail Exchange. I believe the changes to the law have been instrumental in preventing the problems recurring. But in relation to State employment and the State jurisdiction, Commonwealth power is virtually minimal and I believe that in this state there has been a sellout

to the union movement over a significant period and I take your message very clearly and we'll be seeking to do more. We are going to establish the circumstances where members of the union can petition for a secret ballot as to whether they join in a strike or

not and I hope many of them take advantage of that. This isn't somebody ordering them to have a secret ballot but giving them the option to petition for a secret ballot. And that's an extension of the establishment of secret ballots for the election officers which has been in force for about 3 or 4 years. One of the things

that concerns me greatly is that the wages policy of the ACTU is one which was in fact brought up by Mr. Hawke and it not only(inaud) higher, wages, which I think would get back to the sort of 40 per cent award wage increase of 74-75, but it also involves a 35 hour week and I don't think there would be many people here who only work a 35 hour week. . And if Mr. Hawke had a chance with a different

position I don't believe I don't believe he would change the wages policies that he has in fact enshrined within the ACTU. He would only be trying to implement those policies from a different position. And this would enormously add to costs in Australia and it would

add to unemployment. But you're quite right in drawing attention to a very difficult area and we are determined to do what we can within the limits of Commonwealth constitutional power and Mr. Wran has indicated that he would be happy for us to have more power but he's never done anything to help us to achieve it. .

Question

Prime Minister, members of this Club and their families have for many years been involved in the teaching of groups in after hours schools and you're probably not aware that there are some 50,000 such students around Australia. The Institute for Multicultural Affairs recommended support to the extent of some $30 per pupil

towards costs and fees and books. What is the order of support (inaud)?

Prime Minister

We are going to apply - we have accepted that Institute of Multicultural Affairs recommendation. That was in my policy speech and we have said that it will be for a two year period, a trial period and we really want to see how it works over that period. There is not the slightest doubt that'that support will be maintained and continued. We believe there is a very significant role for those after hours schools. There is one condition we put on it and one only that the schools should have an open admissions policy. And I think that you would all agree with that. We accept

that recommendation in its entirety.

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Question

You've been the leader of this country for five years. You've never debated once with any political other leader or the ACT at any time. Why are you frightened?

Prime Minister

Oh my friend I'm not frightened of anything and I'm not frightened of street walks either. I can only say that there have been many times in the federal parliament when I have debated with Mr. Hayden and with many other members of the Australian Labor Party. The facts are there and the facts are plain.

Question

Reverting back to unions - secret ballots, both in the UK and here from time to time during election periods - in policy speeches there has been the - if not the promise, the promise of endeavour to bring in secret ballots. I think you all believe, both there and here and possibly in other countries of the world too, the rank and file will not always agree if they have a secret ballot with the union leaders dictated policy. What I'm interested in right now is - could you please explain to me the difficulties of

implementing that policy.

Prime Minister

We have implemented what we promised to do in the past and that was to introduce secret ballots for the election of union leaders and that is in force and has been for three or four years. In this last policy speech we're taking that a step further by giving unionists in a particular work place would like to ask for a

secret ballot to determine whether they want to take part in a strike that might be ordered by their own union.

Question

Can it be enforced?

Prime Minister

Well that part of it can - I think yes. Because there has been a provision in the Arbitration Act for a long time which allows the Commission to order a secret ballot and there were provisions in the Queensland Act for people under Queensland awards. But the

history of secret ballots when they have been ordered by the Commission is not a particularly happy one. Quite often the ballot has in fact supported the strike. Our belief is that if it is a ballot that the men themselves want to have, have petitioned for,

then the result might indeed be quite different. Let's take the Amalgamated Metal Workers for example - probably cover most of the metal trades. There are 6,000 metal shops, firms, factories right around Australia. If you were going to have a compulsory secret

ballot before people can strike in relation to that, the amount of organisation that you would have to undertake would be very considerable. AWU, which is basically a rural thing - if there was a question of something in relation to shearing sheds - to be able

to organise a compulsory secret ballot for every shearing shed in the country would be a massive task and it would take a fair while to get the votes in. But if you've got people in a meatworks or if . . . .7

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you've.got people in a particular work place, in a motor factory or whatever and they themselves petition for a secret ballot, saying that we just don't want to be part of this dispute because it's a stupid one and it's only going to cost us, then it is

advancing the concept o f .secret ballots a step further and in a way that I hope would be used and in a way that I hope would be helpful. But there are difficulties and substantial ones in making compulsory across the board in relation to all strikes.

They are just plain practical difficulties of organisation as much as anything else.

Question .

Prime Minister due to your Government on’ 24 October we're going to have ethnic television introduced in Sydney and Melbourne. It is your Government's intention to extend the service to other capital cities?

Prime Minister

We are going to look to see what happens in Melbourne and Sydney and obviously if the service is successful we should be making ' then an examination to see whether it should be extended. You might be interested in some decisions we have made about ethnic

television because we got into a bit of trouble with the Senate in relation to it and the original Bill did not go through. We had earlier discussed whether the ABC should look after ethnic television and the Senate Committee that we should examine this again. But we made a decision that the ABC will not be given the responsibility for ethnic television, that it will be a separate body. Because the ABC has always had a chance to do this if it had wanted to. Ethnic television would be no good if it was stuck away in another department of the ABC, like the Rural Department and that's not our concept of it. And I think much of the arguments about ethnic television have been because people have misconceived

the motives, the objectives and the philosophy surrounding it. And the opponents of ethnic television so often argued that you must not have something separate that is going to be divisive because the Greek programmes will be for Greeks and the Italian

for Italians, and the Dutch for Dutch. But that is not our concept of ethnic television. Our concept of ethnic television is that the best programmes and hopefully as many as possible will appeal to all Australians wherever they came from. But in the process of

that we will help to get a better understanding of the history and cultures of all the countries which now go to make up the Australia of which we are all a part. So in that concept it's a unifying factor, not something that cuts up into bits and pieces. And that's why we believe it needs to be a body with that special charm. Whatever we finally decide about the body to manage ethnic television

the implementation committee will have a continuing and significant role in relation to it. And it won't be done by the ABC. But we want to see how it goes in Melbourne and Sydney and then we will looking at decisions in relation to other capitals.

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Q u e s t i o n

Prime Minister after the 18th over the three years do you intend to continue your unified foreign policy or do you think that you'll be going the way of the Labor Party triumvirate of Hayden, Hawke and (inaud)?

Prime Minister ,

Well how do you mean a unified foreign policy?

Question

Well I'm specifically referring to their attitude on the Middle East which you know is a very important issue - subject.

Prime Minister . ·

Well I don't believe we would be substantially altering our policy in relation to the Middle East. It's a very difficult part of the world. There are very many issues involved in it. It's a very sensitive part. There are many different factors - problems between Palestine and Israel and also the problems of disruption coming out of the war between Iran and Iraq. It is an unstable and sensitive part of the world. We will be maintaining a very active foreign policy in close co-operation with our major allies. That doesn't mean to say we support them at all figures - we don't. We support

them if we believe them to be right. But we will argue with them quietly and politely and not in public if we believe them to be wrong. We work actively through the Commonwealth. But I don't believe that there would be a major shift in relation to the areas

that you are talking about.

Question (inaudible)

Prime Minister

The marginal adjusted family income test and also the allowances are both being adjusted for the next academic year and not only that but the secondary allowances to try and encourage more people to stay on in secondary school are also being adjusted for next year to bring more people within the ambit of both students. And

that's already been done. It's part of the decisions we made in the Budget - it has been legislated for.

Question

Prime Minister, if I could ask you a few questions close to the Greek community. One is the question of Cyprus which has been lingering unsolved for the last six years. I am wondering where (inaud) the difference will end, including Australia's abstension at the last United Nation's resolution. Perhaps, will your Government take an initiative similar to the one that you successfully did in the cause of Zimbabwe through the Commonwealth Conference. And secondly, the matter of the social security conspiracy. Will

this go on forever, or will it be resolved very soon and outside the court system, or will the 1,300 people who were initially deprived of their pensions ever come before the courts?

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Prime Minister

The problems of Cyprus are enormously difficult. We have supported United Nations' initiatives and we will continue to do so. I think it is difficult to see an initiative that could come through the Commonwealth itself, but if that did emerge, well then Australia

would certainly work to get a resolution of the problem. I had discussed the problems of Cyprus at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Gleneagles in London 2h, 3 years ago, with Archbishop Makarios. That was at a time when we were hoping that

he would be able to visit Australia. But we know that his death intervened, and that was not possible. We are prepared to search for a solution within the framework of the Commonwealth, but it is no use me suggesting that the problems or the solutions can be easily found. I think it is a very difficult question to get to

something which is acceptable to all parties. I have been concerned at the length of time that that social security case has gone on. You might have noted that in more recent times we have established the right of appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal outside

the social security system. So that anyone who believes they have beei aggrieved or wronged within the Department of Social Security or within that appeals system, has a right of a totally independent appeal. And I think that that is as. it should be. In relation to

the social security case, I would certainly be prepared, after October 18, to discuss the matter with the Attorney-General to see if there are any initiatives that the Commonwealth'ought to take. The whole matter has gone on an inordinately long time. It has been

hanging over people's heads for a very long while. But I don't think that I can say more than that at the moment. After the election I would be very happy to discuss the matter with the Attorney-General to see .if there are avenues that the Government should pursue.

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