Biography Chronology Home Search Speeches/Statements

1994 - Mr Major’s Joint Doorstep Interview with Paul Keating

Below is Mr Major’s joint doorstep interview with the Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating, held in London on Friday 3rd June 1994.


PRIME MINISTER:

I am delighted to see the Prime Minister here, he is here of course for the D-Day celebrations and we are delighted to see him here. We all owe a very great debt of gratitude to the many Australian servicemen who played such a remarkable role in that operation and in other parts of the war.

We have had the opportunity of beginning our bilateral discussions, we hope to continue them, perhaps in more informal settings, over the weekend. We have no bilateral problems worth mentioning, there is an extremely good relationship. Trade between our two countries has been growing very substantially both ways in terms of trade flows and investment flows and we are very attracted to that trend continuing and have been examining how we might improve it. We have had the opportunity of reviewing the outcome of the GATT negotiations and looking forward to the establishment of the world trade organisation.

There have been a series of other regional discussions on the opportunities for further trade within the ASEAN region, looking at countries of mutual interest, China and others spring to mind. So it has been a welcome opportunity to exchange views and I am delighted the Prime Minister could be here.

MR PAUL KEATING:

Thank you Prime Minister. As the Prime Minister said, we both agreed there is no problem of substance in the relationship, our two-way trade is growing strongly each year, Australia is the fourth largest investor in Britain and Britain is the second largest investor in Australia and Britain’s two-way investment is the largest investment relationship Britain has and the largest two-way relationship Australia has. So that I think underlies the relationship in commercial terms.

In cultural terms I think that it is an important opportunity which I welcome to join with the Prime Minister in the D-Day commemorations and at least he was kind enough to refer to the role Australians had played and I will take the opportunity, as I will now, in saying that we will take this chance to pay tribute to Britain and Britons in the fight for the democracies against fascism in Europe, to lead that fight, to carry the brunt of it and, as a consequence, to leave open the prospect of the landings in Normandy and the successful defeat of Nazism in Europe. So I am looking forward to that opportunity over the weekend.

The Prime Minister and I discussed, as he said, the outcome of the GATT. We have also discussed some of the social and political parallels in Australia in social and economic policy and there are quite a number of profound ones, and as we have said, we will take up the rest of the conversation over the course of the weekend.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

QUESTION:

Mr Keating, given the long historical association with Britain, did you inform Mr Major that you wished to change the Australian flag by taking the Union Jack out of the corner, and how did Mr Major react to that?

MR PAUL KEATING:

This is not an active matter in Australia and it has not been. For the Prime Minister’s benefit, I was asked a question about this in Parliament the other day by our opposition and that has prompted this question and I have got no more to say about it than I said then or I have said on many other occasions.

QUESTION:

[Indistinct] North Korea?

MR PAUL KEATING:

We did not, but I am sure the Prime Minister and I would share a similar view that the defueling of reactors in North Korea should be subject to international inspections, that there must be a clear understanding on the part of the International Atomic Energy Agency that there is a diversion of weapons and, at least for Australia’s part, we stand ready to join any international decision the United Nations might make, including sanctions, which make the North Koreans accountable in terms of their nuclear facilities.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, would you regret the fact of Australia removing the Union Jack from the corner of the Australian national flag?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think that is a matter for Australia, Australia is a very remarkable country and nothing that happens in any way is going to damage the instinctive relationship and the trade relationship that exists between the United Kingdom and Australia, it has been there, it is very strong and it is not going to change in the future.