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France announces retaliation on political and economic fronts following its barring from Australian defence contracts



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CROLUS

MONITORING AUSTRALIA

IT IS REPORTED THAT:

DATE: 04/08/95 TIME: 0800 HRS SOURCE: 2CN NAT

PROGRAMME: AM

PRESENTER:

SUBJECT:

P . f2_ - Q j j r o p d

OvrXCfl, L t O i L ^ I c H u K o u rx ·

ELLEN FANNING % J*· * *»··.·/

FRANCE THREATENS REPRISALS AGAINST AUSTRALIA (I) SENATOR BOB MC MULLAN (ACTING MINISTER FO R FOREIGN AFFAIRS)

H I M F A N N IN G This is AM, I’m Ellen Fanning, good morning.

(PRI

; h ί

/FRENCH FOREIGN

MINISTER!

We want political 'discussion. We want to explain oar

position, and we hhVe the right to be respected at the

KERRY O ’ttR IFN But let me ... let me ask you again. Can Australia

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expect the possibility of trade reprisals from France?

No ... no. I don’t think it’s a good way. I don’t think >' v, .. : V ,· ·' . .;· .'· ; .

it’s a good way.

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FJ .1 -HN BAN NING The French Foreign Minister, Herve de Charette, with

Late Line’s Keny O'Brien, in an interview recorded

eariy yesterday morning.

Well it appears the Foreign Minister wasn’t being

entirely frank on the issue o f trade reprisals against

Australia. Two days after Canberra barred a French

firm from bidding for a lucrative defence contract, Paris

has hit back in kind, announcing retaliation on both ■ : I.

political and economic fronts.

Ben Wilson reports the French announcement follows

attempts by Paris and Canberra to smooth over the

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troubled relationship.

BEN W n.SO N The announcement of reprisals against Australia

fR E P O R ltuO rinmwtirally wealirtw ttv» dis p ifo fanhwTa and

Paris over president Jacques Chirac’s decision to resume

nuclear testing in the Sooth Pacific.

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Following the recall of the French Ambassador over the

exclusion of French company Dasso Aviation from an

Australian defence contract, Foreign Minister Gareth

Evans held talk* with French government

representatives in an attempt to smooth over the

escalating rift *■ _ _ __ _______________

The action aimrnmryd by the French Foreign Ministry

comes on two fronts: firstly France will re-examine its

contracts to purchase Australian coal and uranium.

France is one of Australia’s biggest customers for ,i i s 1 . . : . ?!.. '

yellow cake, the contracts are worth millions of dollars.

In announcing the yellow cake contract review, the

French government says that measure is being taken

considering Australia's staunch apposition to nuclear

testing.

The French retaliation against Canberra’s decision to > if 1 - ; i 1 4 · · t ; \ L · ·

bar the French from the defence contract, appears to

have been triggered by comments by Defence Minister

Robert Ray, who, on Wednesday, attempted to increase

the pressure on France, by calling on all state

governments to consider boycotts on French products.

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In its statement, the French Foreign Ministry said it

denounces the determination of the Australian

government to enforce discriminatory trade practices

against France, and the French response has been

framed very mnch with that in mind.

The swrairi leg of the French reaction comes on the

diplomatic front. Paris says it will appeal to die United

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Nations to investigate what it believes are breaches of

the Vienna Convention, which covers diplomatic • · i·" _ '. j t' i ’

immunity and privileges. It’s believed this is in

reference to the complaints that anti-nuclear protesters

... * . . . · · :.· ,i Ί -/· .

were not removed from French Embassy property m

Australia, and a Trade Union ban on mail deliveries.

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The statement also warns that France will look to the

World Trade Organisation to investigate possible

^ UtEfy. ·â–  '. '· *·' .< · breaches of intt™rinniil rules on free trade. $·.·.· V , :

FI T EM FANNING

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Ben Wilson reporting there. .... - .

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Well reaction from Australia’s mining industry has been '· :·· ·:% . . ·; V » ii,

sw ift The executive director of the Australian Mining

Industry Council, David Buckingham, says he doubts

the French will follow through with their threat

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This morning the head of the mine workers union, John

Maitland, told AM he isn’t taking the French threat

seriously either, and added that his union is considering

cancelling· coal exports to France anyway. ,:·*■- · ·'. ί ·

Mr Buckingham joins us now, and he’s speaking to

Matt Brown.

M A T T B R O W N

fRF-PORTERl

·' I ii.'i i. wi· . ;*’·.· 1 . ‘ 1 ‘- ^ ^ m

David Buckingham, how seriously are you taking this

Hi: . . " Λ Ά

threat by the French?

DAVID BUCKINGHAM

m x F r t m r v R d i r e c t o r

AITSTRAI.IAN MINING

INDUSTRY COUNCIL!

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We would be very doubtful that the French would

seriously pursue such an option. The contracts in

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question are long-term contracts, and any move to cancel

‘i .i; ;? · i = : · * such contracts would be a very serious situation in

intra national trading practice.

M A TT B R O W N

•■X

DAVID BUCKINGHAM

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Docs it raise the prospect of paying compensation if

those,contracts are suspended?

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It would immediately raise such questions. They’re the ....... ' !i I ■ .: i V ". i 1

types of questions that we would doubt the French . . .

would, frankly, want to see initiated at this stage.

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MATT BROWN And are the French able to seek uranium and coal from

other sources easily?

D A V m ΗΠΓΊΠΝΠΤΤΑΜ There are certainly alternative supply points in respect 1 - » ·â–  > ’ ’ '. i * * -

of uianmm» There arc also obviously alternative supply

• > ■ points for coal, bid the important point to recogniscis---------

that we’re dealing here with long-term contracts. With

coal, for example, the French are not into the spot V. £ tl: ! 1 · ' 1 * \ \ t ■ ).

market. The recognition of those contracts is what is

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unportanL

MATT BROWN

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So facing this threat, Australia should simply call die V ' V - . ; : ‘Vr-ns h : , . ; Ό ι

French bhiff.

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DAVID RIinCTNOHAM ?: i f ,:a>¥ < « . i -

It’s a situation where we would be very doubtful that

the French would pursue an option of this kind.

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MATT BROWN

n 1 ! .

But what’s the value of die exports we’re talking about

in uranium and coal?

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DAVID ΒΙΤΓΊΠΝΠΙΤΛΜ " v V::.”.: h h c i i

Well in the case of coal, you’re talking of an annual

trade of some $170 million in a total Australian export

trade o f cioal of some $8 billion ... it’s a relatively ·. \: ·:r. . r .·.! ή v . ";

s m a l l component,·

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In the case of uranium it’s also a relatively small

contract... some 300 tonnes per annum being exported

to Fiance.

MATT BROWN But given, our cur rent account deficit, these are

significant figures, aren’t they? __________ _

DAVID BUCKINGHAM In the current account context we obviously attach great

importance to these contracts, and for our part, we

believe it’s important that such contractual commitments

be sustained.

MATT BROWN The national president of the Mine Workers Union, as

.<■ ,1'iUt , ■ ■. _

you heard in the introduction, John Maitland, says the

union itself is considoing cancelling coal exports to

France. How do you regard that?

DAVID BUCKINGHAM Frankly it becomes counter productive to get into a

situation of tit for tat when you’re dealing with long­

term contractual commitments. We would see that there

are better ways of dealing with Australian objection to

French nuclear testing.

BROWS David Buckingham, thank you.

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DA VIP BUCKINGHAM Thank you.

FI-T.HN FANNING David Buckingham, from the Australian Mining

Industry Council, and he was speaking there to Matt

Brown.

Well joining us now is the acting Foreign Minister Bob

McMuflan, who’s also Australia’s Minister for Trade.

And Minister can you ... you’ve heard what the French

Foreign Minister had to say there two days ago.

You’ve seen what’s happened today. Is there a

duplicitous element to all this?

Well I don’t think we need to get into, sort of, insulting ‘ ' · J ;;.. · · ; V . . :

each other. I think I want to just get some more

information about iL I’ve heard the reports, but I ... I

heard a little of what David Buckingham said on your

program. I think it’s unlikely that the French

government will be in the business of breaking contracts

because there is a body of law in France, as in

Australia, which would enable those contracts to be

enforced.

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SENATOR BOB MC MITT I AN

f ACTING MINISTER FOR

FOREIGN AFFAIRS!

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P.T.I J.N FANNING Well why then would the minister ... the Foreign

Ministry in ,France, have put out a press release saying

that it will consider halting imports of Australian coal

and uranium ... from the Ministry that is?

SENATOR BOB ΜΓ ΜΤΓΓ J.AN Well I ... of course I don’t know why they did it, but

it is clear that we’ve always had to take into account,

and it’s been very hard until today for us to get 1: ‘ t ;. »

anybody in the media or public to take it seriously ...

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we’ve always had to consider that there is a possibility

that if we do precipitate things, and 1 don’t think we

have yet, but some have been advocated by others ... if

we do precipitate things in expressing our protests at the ; v v:r t 1 * .

French tests, it could damage the interests of Australia

and Australian workers, and we’ve always said it was

not our mtenrinn to act in ... to make our impact on the

French in such a way that it cost Australians their jobs . " ‘ i . ... · - « : ·

or damaged Australian interests. That won’t in any way

influence the French ... so this just explains why we’ve

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always had to take a more measured position than the

more frenetic enthusiasts who wanted us to do just the

first tiling that came into then- head.

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KIJLKN FAWNING How significant an escalation of the dispute is this ... or

do you see this merely as rhetoric?

SENATOR BOB MC M UIXAN Well I don’t see it as significant yet, but it certainly

reinforces in ones mind «fan· we have to be careful and

" · sensitive in how we act to make sure that we_are_

absolutdy forthright and unqualified in our rejection of

this French decision and that we take action that is as '.V >1 ' : ·* . . L.. ' '.·

effective as possible in making it clear. And the rest of

the world recognises, as the French government

recognises, that Australia is taking a very effective lead

in this, even if we’ve not until now have been able to

convince Australians that that is so. Everywhere else in

the world has recognised that Australia is playing a

lead. It’s clear that France thinks so also.

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EI.I.EN FA N N IN G So do yon interpret this as in any way an evolution of

the French position from one Gareth Evans described

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yesterday as vulnerable as the French feeling wounded,

to the French certainly seeming, at least, to be more

strident today?

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SENATOR BOB Μ Γ MTIT.LAW Well the two things are probably closely related,

although it’s very difficult to interpret, or perhaps

inappropriate to interpret too much into what’s only,

sort of, half a report that I have at the moment. I

haven’t been able to get all the information ... but the

people who are wounded often lash out. So I think it

is clear that there is a ... and we should welcome the

fact that what we’ve done is having some impact on

French public opinion, and it’s been a sustained and

intelligent campaign ... it’s a pity that the only country

in the world that hasn’t been recognised is Australia.

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But we are starting to have some effect and we had to . . · : - ■ >, ! - ·)· v v i I

always to assume that mice we started to have some : 1 >$ ,! ; ; i :

effect there would be a reaction. But I don’t believe, at

the end of the day, that a country like France will break

established ... long standing contracts, because of

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course, as I say, those contracts are enforceable at law

... in French law as in Australian law ... and Australian

companies, as David Buckingham said, would proceed

to enforce their rights.

F J.IE N FANNING Senator Me Mullan, thank you very much for your time

this morning.

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SENATOR BOB Μ Γ MUI.I.AN Thank you Ellen.

The Acting Foreign Minister Bob McMullan on the line

there firom Sydney airport this morning.

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