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Transcript of interview with Michael Brissendon: 'AM', ABC: 27 September 1993: Olympics - Keating's republican agenda



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Leader o f the Opposition

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27 September 1993 REF: TRANSCR\WH\DT\054

TRANSCRIPT OF RADIO INTERVIEW JOHN HEWSON MR 'AM' PROGRAM, ABC RADIO

E & Ο E - PROOF COPY ONLY

SUBJECTS: Olympics - Keating's republican agenda

The Prime Minister has been quick to link Sydney's Olympic success with his push for a republic. In fact Paul Keating says Australia should be a republic by 2000, and believes that it would be odd for the Queen to open the Games as would be expected under the current constitutional arrangements. There's also a renewed push to change the flag as we heard when speaking to John Coates a few moments ago. Michael Brissendon asked the Opposition Leader John Hewson whether Australia should host the Olympics with the Union Jack in the corner of our flag.

Brissendon:

Dr Hewson do you believe that we could host a Games with the Union Jack still in our flag?

Look I think this is just, I mean most people in Australia would be absolutely appalled and disappointed that the Prime Minister is trying to play partisan politics with what is a great victory for Australia. Now our success at the Olympics, in winning the Olympics for the Year 2000 was an outstanding success and I think it's a great opportunity for Australians to sit back and say look we really can believe in ourselves, we can go out and beat the best in the world, but the Prime Minister is now going to try and turn this to his partisan political agenda on the republic and the flag which I think most Australians will just be very disappointed about and see it for what it is. And here's a man with a back to the wall, he can't deliver a sensible budget, he can't deal with any of the economic problems and he's running around talking about the

Union Jack and the flag.

Hewson:

Parliament House. Canberra, A.C.l. 2600 Phone 277 4022

REF: TRANSCR\WH\054 2.

Brissendon:

The Olympic Games though does provide a fairly unique opportunity to show the world what we are and how independent we are as a nation doesn't it?

Hewson:

We are an independent nation. We have been for years. The only bloke who's compromised our independence is the Prime Minister. Under his time as Treasurer and Prime Minister our international debts have ballooned to $200 billion. He's sold us out to foreign banks and governments and he has the hide to walk around talking about independence. I mean if he wants to demonstrate a clear example to the world, what about getting our economic house in order. What about when people come out here, they see a really truly efficient economy that's meeting its full potential with the best ports, the best education system, the best health system in the world, not the mess that he's created.

Brissendon:

Well you were in Monte Carlo. From all reports there was some confusion created because of the similarities between the flags of Manchester and the Sydney bid. Is that the way you saw it?

Hewson:

No absolute tripe. That is the Prime Minister running of at the mouth. Nobody's confused, I mean the Olympic members...

Brissendon:

Well how did that go down over there?

Hewson:

The committee voted for us under our present constitution with our present flag. They weren't confused about it. This is the Prime Minister trying to make cheap domestic political politics out of what is a great victory for Australia.

Brissendon:

Did you feel, was there any embarrassment among the officials or the Australian team that we were linked with the Manchester bid like that?

REF: TRANSCR\WH\054 3.

Hewson:

We weren't linked and nobody had that confusion. This is a furphy created by the Prime Minister as yet another diversion. I mean he should come back here today, get into the Parliament and argue the case for a new budget because the people of Australia are out there and we're giving voice to their concern that this fellow lied and cheated his way back into government, failed to live up to his election commitments and is now running around trying to find any distraction. And there is no limit to what he will do. He's now trying to as I say, score cheap political partisan points in association with a great victory for Australia which is to win the Games for the Year 2000.

Brissendon:

Dr Hewson should the Queen open the Games?

Hewson:

Look, those questions can be determined down the track. They have got nothing to do with the current circumstances in Australia. It's a debate we're going to have for a long time and you know, I don't know whether it's the head of state or who opens the Games. I think that's irrelevant at this point. The Prime Minister is just simply trying to create the circumstances in which he runs his own partisan political agenda

as a distraction from what is a total failure on his part to show any leadership or any sense of direction to this nation. I mean he is going to come back to reality with a thud in the course of this week and I'm not going to let him drag the Olympics into his mire domestic political agenda. It is a great event for Australia and you know it is not

his, it's not his to be played with, neither is our constitution, neither is our flag. In the end the people of Australia make those decisions and he is yet to put a case to the people of Australia for making a change. I mean he had the gall to go and tell the Queen that he was going to push ahead to a republic without having told any Australian yet what he has in mind, what he means by a republic, why he wants to change our constitution, why he wants to change our flag. He's gone all this distance without once ever taking the people of Australia into his confidence. He's got a bloody hide.

Brissendon:

Dr Hewson, thankyou very much.