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Transcript of interview with Matthew Abraham: 2CN (ABC): September 6, 1991



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PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA ยท THE SENATE

SENATOR ROBERT HILL

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE

SHAD O W MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

PARLIAMENT HOUSE CANBERRA, A.C.T. 2600 PHONE (06) 277 3170

FACSIMILE (06) 277 3177

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW BETWEEN MATTHEW ABRAHAM AND THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, SENATOR ROBERT HILL, ON 2CN (ABC) AT 8.55AM ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 1991

MATTHEW ABRAHAM:

... Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, and he's with me now. Good morning.

ROBERT HILL:

Good morning, Matthew.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM:

Now, Senator Hill, you've been very critical of the Australian Government over Yugoslavia. What is your stand?

ROBERT HILL:

Well, we were critical yesterday because it seemed that Mr Hawke had backed down on his midday television announcement of a week or so ago that Australia would liaise with the US to look for

some UN role. This was in the light of the fact that the

European Community doesn't seem to be able to effect a ceasefire and it seemed that nothing had happened. It was interesting that between Question Time in the Senate yesterday and Question Time in the Reps, Mr Hawke had given the matter some further thought

and, in fact, contrary to what Senator Evans has said, announced that Dr Wilenski in New York was keeping the matter under review and liaising with other embassies and, of course, he also

announced a gift of aid to the Red Cross to help.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: ______ _

I think a recognition of the appalling circumstances in

Yugoslavia at the moment - that the world seems to be looking on but unable to act - and sadly the European Community, despite all its influence, doesn't, at the moment, seem to be able to press the parties and, in particular, the central armed forces of Yugoslavia to stop their attacks in Croatia.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM:

What spurred the change?

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY M IC A H

ROBERT HILL:

Now, on to the Ukraine. Ukrainians in Australia will be holding rallies in the near future for recognition. What's the

Opposition stand on that?

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ROBERT HILL:

They have rallies all around Australia this weekend. Our view is that if (in) the referendum, which has been announced for December, the Ukrainian people decide that they wish to be independent - in other words if they support the independence declaration of their Parliament which was passed a week or two ago - then they should have the right to independence. And

subject to meeting the international law criteria, other states should recognise them as independent. In the meantime, we think that there are things that Australia can do to support Ukrainians in their aspirations. In particular, we believe that it would not only be in the interests of the Ukraine, but in the interests of Australia, if a trade office was set up in Kiev because it's obviously going to be a major economic force in the Europe of the

future. We also think that Australian consular facilities there would be of great help to Ukrainians wishing to visit Australia and for Australian Ukrainians who are returning and assisting in some ways their compatriots from home.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM:

Now, there's no need for caution here in your view to not move too quickly?

ROBERT HILL:

We've always said that for recognition, not only do we need to understand the aspirations of the peoples concerned - which we're finding throughout Europe and the Soviet Union at the moment - but we also need to ensure that the international law criteria are met, otherwise there would simply be anarchy between states. We stuck by that requirement in relation to the Baltic States and were pleased when the international law criteria were met. We

have adopted a similar stance in the case of Yugoslavia. We certainly have sympathy for the aspirations of Slovenia and Croatia for their independence and respect the referendums that were held. But in the case of Croatia in particular, until it

has control over its own territories, it's very difficult to see how Australia, or any other state, could formally recognise them under the accepted criteria. So there's a caution in that one must await the necessary pre-requisites. On the other hand,

there are occasions when there is a way in which the

international community can help consolidate a position which is just and right and when that window of opportunity appears, the opportunity should be grasped.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM:

Alright, on to a very domestic issue and that is a speech given by Mr Howard in Canberra this week where he said he didn't favour self-government, he really favoured a City Council style system for Canberra with a Mayor and he had always held that view. Now he was Opposition Leader at the time the legislation was being debated. Did he ever express those views in the Party Room?

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ROBERT HILL:

I think Mr Howard has always held those views. He has always, of course, accepted the Party Room's position but they are personal views that I've heard him express before. It's very difficult, of course - as you know I was involved in that process

as well.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM:

You were the Shadow Minister for Territories and you gave us the Hill amendment.

ROBERT HILL:

I had the responsibility of the legislation in the Senate. I don't think there's any perfect formula for a small community such as Canberra. The Mayoralty (idea) I think would be

difficult to go back to now. I don't think that the residents of the ACT would accept it. The other options are well known to you. Some argue - I think Mr Howard might argue - that functions such as roads and transport, health, etc., if there was to be a municipal government, would be passed back to NSW. But of course

that would mean the ACT residents wouldn't have any democratic influence upon those essential services.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM:

Senator Robert Hill, we must leave it there but I thank you very much for your time and we look forward to catching up with you in a fortnight, if not sooner.

ROBERT HILL:

Thank you, Matthew.

(end s )