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Transcript of Interview: 'Daybreak' , ABC Radio: 16 September 1993: Audience with Pope John Paul; Keating's comments in US on human rights; Olympic Bid



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Leader o f the Opposition

16 September 1993 REF: TRANSCR\SC\DT\0027

TRANSCRIPT OF RADIO INTERVIEW DR JOHN HEWSON MP 'DAYBREAK1 , ABC RADIO

E & Ο E - PROOF COPY ONLY

SUBJECTS: Audience with Pope John Paul; Keating's comments in US on human rights; Olympic bid

Funnell:

Dr Hewson you're not a Catholic, why have you sought an audience with the Pope?

Hewson:

Well it's something that I've always wanted to do but let's put it in its context I'm basically here in Italy and in Greece on Friday in recognition of the enormous contribution that Greek and Italian migrants have made to Australia. I think it's important that from time to time Australian leaders do spend some time in those homelands talking about not only issues that are important to that relationship but of course it's an opportunity to raise other issues. It was in that context that being in

Rome that I attended a general audience of the Pope and then had the opportunity which I personally valued very much to meet him privately and I thought it was a unique opportunity and I'm sure one that most Australians would love to have the opportunity to participate in.

Funnell:

Was it more than just an exchange of good wishes?

Hewson:

Well I just quickly made three points. I didn't have very long when I met him but I did say it was a personal honour to me and that was really in recognition of the tremendous contribution the Pope has made to world peace by fighting the major enemies of world peace which of course are injustice and poverty. Secondly, I

reminded him of his visit to Australia in 1986 and the very important statement he

Parliament House. Canberra. A.CM'. 2600 Phone 277 4022 COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MIC AH

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made about our Aboriginal people. And thirdly, I said most Australians really look forward to the day we have our first Saint with Mother Mary McKillop. And I just had that opportunity to put those three points across. But it was, you know, in the context of what is as I say a very important contribution by Greek, or by Italian migrants in this case to Australia.

Funnell:

Well just on the point of APEC. Now it appears that Prime Minister Paul Keating has further cemented the prospect of APEC becoming what he calls the biggest international forum at which Australia will have a seat. What sort of feeling did you get from the leaders in Japan and Thailand about APEC?

Hewson:

Well you get a difference of view and you find this as you go right throughout Asia. A number of Japanese ministers commented to me that APEC was very important and they emphasised they saw its importance linked to the fact that it was an opportunity to keep the US involved, actively involved, economically in the region. And were more

inclined I think to support a trade liberalisation agenda for APEC. Whereas when you go to Thailand and of course in other countries you get more caution. They don't want to see APEC pushed too quickly. There are other regional groupings like ASEAN for example that they're very protective of which is quite understandable. And so you get quite differences of opinion about what role APEC ought to play, what pace we ought to move to towards particular structures and particular objectives. So

I think, you know, from our point of view APEC's importance is, at least as the Coalition has seen it, that it would provide a unique forum to push the pace of trade liberalisation in the region. We would like to see it have quite specific objectives in that regard and an agenda in that regard but that may not at this stage pull fully widespread support within the Asian Pacific region but I think it's the direction in which

it's got to go. We are concerned that APEC just becomes a talkfest. You know we must see APEC for what it is. It is not a panacea. If Australia wants to make it's mark - in Asia it's got to get its economic house in order.

Funnell: ,

Paul Keating has caused a bit of controversy by telling US politicians they should be a bit careful or a bit more careful in criticising the human rights records of some Asian countries, most notably Indonesia and China. Do you think that's the right approach to take?

Hewson:

Well look to be fair I haven't seen what the Prime Minister's said about human rights. I've seen some reaction reported from his own backbench, the left wing of his backbench and other aid groups and I think Amnesty International. And in the context

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that I heard it I was a bit surprised by what he said. I think that Australia's had a very good track record in arguing the case for human rights. It's been a very strong feature of our role in international affairs and in regional affairs and I'd have to see what the Prime Minister's said to comment more substantively.

Funnell:

All right. Well just finally you'll be in Monaco for the Olympics announcement. From your travels who do you get a sense of who's going to be the successful winner in Monaco?

Hewson:

Well I think it's very tight. I mean it's very hard to read how individual delegates will vote from the discussions that I've had in Thailand and Japan. But I mean I think I get a feeling that there's quite strong support for Beijing within the Asian contingent. And I would have to say I think it's close. I'd put a very strong case in defence of Sydney which is technically clearly got the best bid by all reports but also I think it's about time

it came to the southern hemisphere and you know I've put those arguments very strongly. But I cant really read it because while you may get views expressed to you by the people you meet with they're not the delegates who in the end vote.

Funnell:

Well given the huge amount of investment in China and the moves by China over the past few days in releasing a couple of dissidents from its prisons, do you think just simply in terms of economics that the big investment in China will sway a few delegates Beijing's way?

Hewson:

Well I think that's what they're trying to do. I think there's no doubt that China's been trying to use every possible avenue to influence the opinion of the IOC delegates. And whether it's recent initiatives in relation to human rights or whatever. In terms of

the release of those dissidents it's all part I think of probably of their approach to try and win the Olympics and we don't know of course just how much they've done and where they've done it. I tend to feel myself that if the bid is judged on merit Sydney will win hands down. If it's judged on politics it's going to be very close.