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1991 - Mr Major’s Joint Doorstep Interview with Bob Hawke

Below is the text of Mr Major’s joint doorstep interview with the Australian Prime Minister, Mr Bob Hawke, in Harare on Tuesday 15th October 1991.


MR HAWKE:

I was very grateful to John for joining me with his colleagues and we had a very mutual discussion which covered essentially three areas: the conference itself and issues of importance this week and I think we had a lot of common ground on those issues; secondly we talked about broader international matters and may say from Australia's point of view perhaps the most important was the finalising of the GATT round, the Uruguay Round, and I was very pleased that John again emphasised, as he did in his role as Chairman of the G7 the commitment to a successful conclusion of that round, this is a matter of very very great importance for us in Australia but I think also for the whole world, and we spent some time on that; and then thirdly there were one or two bilateral matters that we were able to cover with mutual satisfaction - a good working breakfast.

QUESTION:

As aid donors, both of you, would you like now to turn your aid to human rights improvements?

MR HAWKE:

I think I can speak for John and certainly in my own terms I am not going to have my agenda set by the media or anyone else on this issue. I note that at the start of this conference there is an attempt to set this sort of agenda and I am not having the agenda set in that way. But obviously I would say this as I said at an earlier press conference, if you want to ask what is the distinguishing characteristic of the world in the last one or two years it is the move in so many quarters, not simply in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, to a democratic constitution and way of life. That is a fact and no-one can avoid that fact and it will inevitably be reflected I believe in discussions in any body like this.

QUESTION:

Mr Major do you agree with this?

PRIME MINISTER:

I absolutely share that view, I think that is entirely right, we are here at this Commonwealth conference to look forward, we have got reports in front of us which enable us to do so and I think there have been the most enormous, quite unprecedented and unexpected changes in the world in the last twelve months or so. That is going to have its impact on the Commonwealth as well and we want to look forward to what sort of government there is going to be in the future, what the relationships will be inside the Commonwealth. There are other important matters as well we will touch on, I am sure we will touch on the environment conference in Rio that will take place next year, a very important conference.

But this morning I would just like to echo what the Prime Minister said, we had an extremely useful discussion, particularly about GATT, as Chairman of the Cairns group he and I have kept in very close touch over the past few months, it is a matter of critical importance, critical importance, I cannot overstate it, that we actually get a satisfactory outcome to the Uruguay Round and it was extremely useful this morning to have the opportunity of exchanging views about that.

QUESTION:

Mr Major, do you favour the Commonwealth making some sort of statement about GATT?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am sure the Commonwealth will discuss a raft of matters including GATT, it is of very great interest to the Commonwealth, it is of very great interest to many of the developing countries that they are actually going to have access for their exports to the developed countries. It is not a great deal of good for the developed countries handing out aid on the one hand and closing their markets to exports from the developing countries with the other hand, that is absolutely self-defeating. So a successful outcome to the Uruguay Round is very important to the Commonwealth.

QUESTION:

Do you think the French will shift?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think we are going to get an agreement in the GATT Round, there are a lot of things to be determined, you mentioned the French, but there are many matters still to be determined, it is not only Prance who has difficulties with the present situation in the GATT Round. There is a great deal to be done, there are many countries that will have to make a move. What is absolutely critically important is that we do not lose the advances that are already there in the GATT Round and that we do reach a satisfactory conclusion.

QUESTION:

Will there be a conclusion?

PRIME MINISTER:

It may be a conclusion that not everybody likes and that everybody perhaps has to make some sacrifices to achieve. But we will all have to make much bigger sacrifices if we do not actually get that agreement.

QUESTION:

Do you foresee any problem for the United Kingdom supporting a CHOGM declaration on GATT?

PRIME MINISTER:

We have not started our discussions here yet and I have just been discussing very clearly, I could not have done it more clearly I think, how important I think it is that we actually get an agreement on the GATT Round, there are very few things that are more important than that if one takes the medium and long term view of the importance of the flow of world trade, the growth of world trade and the need for trade to flow in an uninhibited fashion. So I do not think there will be a great deal of difficulty, I hope that will be a universal view.

QUESTION:

On the question of human rights, what is the point of talking about good government if you do not introduce a means to enforce it?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are going to discuss human rights and we are going to point to peer pressure. There have been the most enormous changes over the last few years, some of them in the Commonwealth, many of them beyond the Commonwealth. I do not think any country in the world is immune from the sort of changes that we have seen over the last couple of years and I am surprise you think there will be so much difficulty about it. I think the fact that there have been such remarkable changes is clear to everyone and will be reflected in our discussions this week.