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Transcript of interview (pre-record) with Jon Taylor: ABC Radio: 27 August 1991: Hawke - leadership crisis; development and industry; the green movement

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Leader of the Opposition

27 August 1991 TPT\NM\0005



SUBJECTS; Hawke - Leadership Crisis, Development and Industry, The Green Movement

Taylor; ·

Statements by Bob Hawke this evening about the leadership crisis were very washy. He was hoping that it was probably over, and hopefully under control. Is he solving the situation here? Is he in charge?


No, he's totally lost control. It's a very sad commentary on the man, that he says that he prefers to try and achieve it by gentle leadership, when the country wants hard-headed leadership, and they'll never believe that Bob Hawke can deliver hard-headed

leadership until he can control his own troops. He's got his own Whip visibly out there undermining him. He's got senior

government ministers visibly undermining him. They're leaking. They're fighting and scrapping amongst themselves. They're all attacking each other - rewriting history - and he says that he "hopes" things will turn out OK. They'll "probably" be alright. He's "confident" that he'll be OK. He appeals to the broader party than the Parliamentary Party. If he can't control his

troops, he can never win the war that is of interest to people in Australia - which is restoring jobs.


Hawke, in hie ACTU days, was known as a head cruncher though. Why isn't he doing that now, when there's so much at stake in his personal career?


Look, I think he's lost confidence. I don't think he has the courage any more to take these people on. You can't run a

political party by sitting back and hoping it all goes away. You've got to call them on. And where you put people in

responsible positions, like Whip, like Minister, then you've got

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to make them ‘do their job, or ship them out. If you can't

provide that sort of leadership, you're never going to be able to govern the country, in the worst circumstances in 60 years.

Look, if you look at it, he hasn't put in place any of the

appropriate policies that this country needs. This country's crying out for hard-headed leadership; a clear sense of

direction. The people will go with a government that provides that sort of leadership. What does the Prime Minister do? He brings down a Budget which is designed simply to stitch up deals here and there, to save his job. He looks after Brian Howe,

because he needs his support. He looks after Bill Kelty, because he wants to peel him off from Paul Keating, He looks after the Green movement, because he made some deals with them in the last election campaign. But he forgets the great bulk of average Australians who are now facing the prospect that one million of

them will be unemployed, and he offers them no hope. Indeed, they go around conceding that unemployment is going to stay above 10% for several years.

The country just can't tolerate a Prime Minister that can't lead.


This is also the man that said "If you can't govern your own

party, you can't govern the country".


He is living proof that that is dead right. The country is not being governed. The country is sliding very fast into it's worst crisis in living memory, and he's wandering around saying "I hope it's OK", "I'm confident things will be alright", "I don't think my numbers have shifted", "The broader party will support me".

I mean, he's got to show leadership. It's just simply, got to be demonstrated to his own people, and to the community as a whole.

Look, the fact is, when he doesn't show leadership, he loses the little bit of respect that was lingering in his party. Imagine how his supporters feel when they see George Gear out there undermining him, or John Dawkins out there undermining him, or a nod and a wink from Paul Keating and other mates on the back bench. It's just ludicrous to imagine that he can Just sit back and let that continue to happen, and not face the reality that he's lost control. He's got to assert control. He's got to put those people in their place. He's got to fire those who w o n ’t toe the line, and he's got to get on and govern the country.


If he doesn't, if he can't control this, how long has he

realistically got?


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Well, I d o n ’t think Keating can get the n u m b e r s , It's an

unbelievable choice for the people in the Labor Party. You couldn't give Keating away in a chook r a f f l e . It is hard to

imagine that he'll get up, because when push comes to s h o v e , the people in the Labor Party t h i n k , "can we possibly take this bloke to the next e l e c t i o n ? " "If we can't give him away in a chook

raffle, he's not going to win the e l e c t i o n , " So, in those

c i r cumstances, they're torn between Hawke and Keating, and have probably got to jump to another g e n e r a t i o n . They've got to jettison both of them and get back to a new leader and try and build a new team. But they just haven't got the capacity to do that. Yet their factional divisions and differences of opinion are so deep - I mean, they are huge haters in the A L P . They

really hate each other with a v e n g e a n c e . They go after each o t h e r , irrespective of the cost to the party. Personal interest above community interest, every time. In those circum s t a n c e s , they're just going to tear themselves a p a r t .

I hope, in all seriousness, that they actually pull themselves together, and the best hope for that is for the Prime Minister to assert his authority and to put those people in their place that are destabilising and get on and govern the country, because the electorate really can't bear any m o r e .

T a y l o r :

Who would the Opposition prefer to fight the next election against as Prime Minister?

H e w s o n :

We really don't c a r e . We can beat either of them. We're not

relying on them losing the next e l e c t i o n . We intend to win the next election in our own r i g h t , by being a viable, credible alternative government - standing up for what we believe in, and fighting for it every day between now and the next election. That's quite independent to whoever they happen to run against

u s .


Just on something this evening - the stagnant development caused by decisions like Coronation Hill, and the failure of the debate of the Uranium Policy. What sort of things are potential

developers and industries up against when they look to Australia?

H e w s o n :

It's a simple fact that most major development projects that we see today around Australia wouldn't get off the ground under the current p r o c e s s e s . The Pilbara wouldn't have been d e v e l o p e d . The Snowy Mountains Scheme wouldn't have been b u i l t . A whole

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host of other projects that are underway would not have got off the ground under the rules and decision-making processes that exist today.

It's absolutely essential now that people step back and take a long, hard look at what's got to be done to change that

situation. We are all genuinely concerned about protecting our environment. But equally, we are very worried about development. We are very worried about jobs. We are very worried about

generating the exports that are necessary to service our huge international debts.

So we have to have a more pro-development stance than we've had in recent days. The cynical manipulation of the Green vote that the ALP has embarked on in the last two federal elections - doing deals, promising that they'll block projects simply to stitch up preference votes in marginal seats in Sydney and Melbourne has got to be brought to an end. I think some of the Green

movement's leadership needs to be flushed out for what they are, which is visibly biased in their political position. We need apolitical leadership of the Green movement. We need, therefore,

on that basis, to be able to have a rational debate about an

appropriate balance between the environment and development, and we need to streamline the decision-making processes so that the business community knows the rules of the game and knows that a government will stick to them once they've embarked on the game.

It's no use moving the goalposts after they've kicked off.

E n d s .