Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Speech at Australian National Press Club

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Canberra, Australia
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Editorial comments: Between 1200 and 1245 local time. MT took questions after her speech.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 5904
Themes: Agriculture, Arts & entertainment, Civil liberties, Commonwealth (general), Commonwealth (South Africa), Defence (general), Economic policy - theory and process, Industry, Privatized & state industries, Trade, European Union (general), European Union Single Market, Foreign policy (Africa), Foreign policy (Australia & NZ), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Law & order, Media, Security services & intelligence, Social security & welfare, Women

Prime Minister

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen:

There is a very good maxim in life that one should start a job as one means to go on. I have followed it this year. I started by attending the Australia Day dinner in London in January and now I am here.

It will be the longest visit that I have paid to any country since becoming Prime Minister, except for the Commonwealth Conferences, and that is a measure of the importance of the country and the importance of the occasion. It is also my fifth visit, in all, to your country.

I hope you realise how much attention your bicentennial celebrations are attracting in Britain and Europe. If you don't, the stream of foreign heads of government pouring in to visit you, holding up the traffic and no doubt inflicting speeches on this distinguished Club, will remind you! [end p1]

But that attention is very real all the same. It is not just a question of envy for people who are having a very good and very long party. The bicentenary has added to the very positive picture which people in Britain have of Australia. It is made up of a mixture of affection, of rivalry—particularly in sport—and of a conviction that Australia is a land which represents the future.

People very often do not realise how their own country is regarded abroad. If that is true in Australia's case, then cheer up, because you have a lot to be pleased about and proud of! You are doing very well and are part of that great Pacific area which has the most exciting and prosperous future ahead of it, and in case the news has not reached you, Britain is also do very well (laughter) with a growth rate higher than any other country in Europe, wider ownership, lower taxes and unparalleled prosperity, which enables us to spend more than ever on education and the social services.

So it is not at all the picture you used to have in the days when people spoke in hushed tones of the “British disease” . Now, we are known for the “British cure” and people look to us to see how it is done, and may I say how highly we regard the contribution to our prosperity made by Australian entrepreneurs. They compete with the best of ours and sometimes win. We welcome their challenge and would be happy to see more of it. [end p2]

It is not chance that I have already used the word “future” several times in talking about Australia. In some ways, I suppose, it goes against the grain to be harping on the future on the occasion of a 200th birthday, when most of us would tend to look back rather than forward, and I certainly do not mean to disparage the past because you have so much to look back on with pride: the distinctive and important contribution to Australia made by the Aboriginal people—a contribution which has increasingly been widely recognised during this bicentenary year; the toil and courage of the early settlers, who tamed this huge country and made it a land of opportunity; the heroism of Australians in two World Wars. It still seems incredible that one-third of all Australia's men of working age went to Europe to fight in the First World War. Their record in the Second War, and subsequently, has been no less proud, no less courageous.

You may recall the conclusion reached by General MacArthur after attending a debate in the Australian Parliament during the Second World War: “If Australians can fight as well as they can argue, we are certain of victory!” (laughter) and while that contribution will never be forgotten, we need to come to terms with some plain facts if we are to get the relationship between Britain and Australia right for the modern world. [end p3]

First, the overwhelming majority of people came to Australia as an act of deliberate choice. They turned their backs on life in Britain elsewhere—in Europe or in Asia—because they wanted a different and a better life for themselves and their families by coming to Australia. Those who came from Britain brought some of our history with them as part of their heritage and that remains yours today, but people were making a conscious decision to be different, to be Australians—not Britons or Italians or Greeks in exile.

Second, people in Britain—and I believe some in Australia—for too long failed to think of Australia as a nation and not just as a piece of Britain transposed to the other side of the world. That put a brake on the sort of open relationship we should have had, a relationship in which the two countries could work together—not because they felt bound to do so, but because it was obviously and plainly in the interests of both of them to do so. With your mood of national self-confidence and the no less striking resurgence of Britain's spirit, we now have a good basis for overcoming the inhibitions of the past.

And thirdly, Britain and Australia have followed divergent paths in the last twenty years. Neither of us can neglect our geographic position. We in Britain know that a large part of our future lies in Europe—not a United States of Europe, but nonetheless a Europe marked by a steadily closer cooperation between [end p4] separate nation states each with their own history, traditions and interests and the direction of our trade has of course increasingly reflected this.

Australia, for its part, has seen its role develop more and more in alliance with the United States, in ANZUS, and in contributing to stability in the Pacific region. That is very properly the main thrust of your defence policy and it is indeed vitally important that you should continue to give a lead to the rest of the Pacific region.

There is nothing to lament in this division of labour. Countries must follow their interests to achieve their greatest strengths. It does not stop us from playing cricket together; it does not stop Australians doing well at Wimbledon; rather, it is an excellent basis for our relations. We each have our regional interests close at hand, but we share wider and deeper interests too: interests in extending democracy to more peoples; interests in removing the restrictions to free trade; interests in a strong defence against the efforts of totalitarian societies to expand their influence and sway; interests as part of a world economy from which no country can insulate itself.

Our defence cooperation continues and our influence in all these matters is the greater because we reach the same conclusions despite the difference which separates us. [end p5]

So, yes, we want to step up our contacts at every level with Australia, including more regular ministerial visits, and I have made some proposals to Bob Hawke this morning for this and I am very glad that he has accepted my invitation to pay an official visit to Britain next year and I hope accompanied by some of his principal ministers. Let us increase our contacts as two strong, pround, independent, successful nations each with its own specific contribution to make!

That fellowship between Britain and Australia, that feeling that deep down we are on the same side, is reassuring as both countries face the momentous changes which are happening on the world scene. The very exciting developments which are taking place in the Soviet Union hold out unprecedented hope and opportunity.

If we are confident enough in our basic beliefs and skilful enough to make the most of the new opportunities, then I believe there is a prospect which few generations in history have had—that we can leave our children a more peaceful and a more stable world.

I think that all of us who follow these matters were amazed by the recent Soviet Party Conference—the informality, the greater freedom of debate and discussion, the evidence that even after seventy years of deadening dogmatism the art of political debate is still alive in the Soviet Union. It is a freedom which we in the West take for granted, but in the Soviet Union it is an invigorating change from closed doors and closed minds. [end p6]

Mr. Gorbachev personally deserves great credit for this. He has seen that communism is not producing the standard of living that people wanted, nor the standard of social services, nor the standard of technological development. He has had the courage to say so and to realise that only by mobilising greater individual initiative and responsibility will these things be improved.

It is not going to be easy for the Soviet Union. It will require changes on a massive scale. They know that Marx and Lenin did not have the answers, but those who rule the Soviet Union will have to accept restraints on their power over people. They need to understand that you cannot plan and regulate everything and that if you try, you lose the driving force of human nature, its inventiveness and creativity. They need to understand that their country cannot flourish in isolation; that the West, with all it has to offer, is a necessary partner in Soviet prosperity and that attempts to undermine the West politically are therefore highly counter-productive for the Soviet Union itself, for now, we are only at the beginning but it is in our interests as well as those of the Soviet people that Mr. Gorbachev should reach his goal.

If we get to a position where the Soviet Union is not just strong militarily, but because their people have a higher standard of living, more freedom and something closer to democracy, then that will be good, not only for the Soviet people, but for the rest of us as well. [end p7]

But that still lies in the future and until those changes come about we must continue to speak out fearlessly about human rights, freer movement of people and ideas, an independent judiciary and a true rule of law.

People sometimes try to argue that this speaking out runs counter to the aim of better relations. We should never accept that argument. President Reagan put it very well in a speech in London on his return from the Moscow Summit. He said this: “When free peoples cease telling the truth about and to their adversaries, they cease telling the truth to themselves. In matters of state, unless the truth be spoken it ceases to exist!”

There is another important point. The much more hopeful signs in the Soviet Union are bound to raise questions in people's minds. “Can't we take a chance? Do we need to go on with the present level of spending on defence? Hasn't the time come when we can relax our guard?” Nothing could be more dangerous!

We cannot base our defence on hope—only on reality—and the reality is that the Soviet military spending continues to grow and their weapons systems are being constantly modernised and updated in every field. By the mid-1990s, virtually the entire Soviet strategic force in place in the mid-1980s will have been replaced by new or modernised systems. They are deploying one new [end p8] submarine every thirty-seven days. They made over ninety space launches last year for military purposes and, of course, they are projecting an ever-increasing military presence in the Pacific region. Moreover, we do not know whether the new policies will succeed. Old ways die hard and entrenched bureaucracies resist change. We can hope for the best, but a prudent defence must plan for the worst case and we must make sure that our insurance policy is in good order.

The fact is, Mr. Chairman, we are in a position to welcome the changes taking place in the Soviet Union because we know that whatever happens, our defence is sure, so it is vital that NATO should continue to maintain its strength and modernise its nuclear weapons, because they provide the essential deterrence against the might of Soviet conventional forces.

When people ask me: “Can't we have a nuclear-free Europe?” my reply is always: “I want a war-free Europe and indeed, a war-free world and it is nuclear weapons that have kept the peace in Europe for forty years. You cannot dis-invent the knowledge of how to make nuclear weapons and if ever there was another war, the race to manufacture them again would be on and the first to do so would have an impregnable position!”

Australia makes a vital contribution to the overall strength of the Western Alliance. We welcome that and hope very much it will continue. [end p9]

Mr. Chairman, you will expect me to say something briefly about the world economic situation, particularly after the Toronto Economic Summit.

Most of us have come a long way since the days when people thought that you could spend and borrow your way to prosperity, that you needed a budget deficit and a bit of inflation to get economic growth. We have put behind us that financial irresponsibility which made the 1970s the decade of missed opportunity. Now, we follow the policies of sound money, lower taxes and freedom for enterprise with the main role of government being to keep downward pressure on inflation and to provide a framework within which trade and commerce can flourish.

These policies have produced stable and long-term growth in all the main industrial countries. They enabled us to withstand the shock of last autumn's fall in stock prices and they were reaffirmed at the Toronto Economic Summit, and provided we stick firmly to them, we can look forward to further growth and prosperity and that must be good for the developing countries too. But these policies have to be supported by open markets and flourishing world trade and we must make the multilateral trade negotiations in the GATT a success. [end p10]

In Europe, we are moving towards the creation of a single European market by 1992, a market of some 320 million customers, with no unnecessary trade barriers either within Europe or against the outside world, and I can assure you that Britain takes that last proviso very seriously.

Nowhere is the need to reduce protection and subsidies greater than in agriculture. Australia has a proud record here and I wish that the rest of us matched up to it. In particular, your foundation and leadership of the Cairns Group will greatly improve the chances of success in negotiations on agriculture. These are going to be very difficult.

At the moment, we compete with each other to give bigger and bigger subsidies. Farmers in Japan are paid eight times the world price for rice. In the United States, in 1986, one single state received more loans and other aid from Washington than all the nations in Africa get from the World Bank. In Europe, the subsidy per cow is greater than the personal income of half the world's people.

As Abba Eban once said: “History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives!” (laughter) Well, with agriculture, we have exhausted all other alternatives and at Toronto we recognised that setting realistic goals for reducing subsidies on a fair basis in [end p11] our countries was the way to offer a surer future for all our farmers, a better deal for all our consumers and hope for the Third World countries whose markets are unfairly saturated by the sale of our subsidised surpluses. We thank Australia for giving a lead.

We in Europe have made a good start on the process of reducing subsidies and controlling agricultural spending, but there is a long way still to go and many hard choices to make.

Mr. Chairman, this bicentennial year is a emotional moment for Australia, as it is for Britain. It is a time for memories, of course. What anniversary isn't? But it is also a time to build the future—a future filled with opportunity and pride for both our countries; a future in which Britain and Australia will each have its own independent policies and priorities, but should be constantly looking to see what we can achieve together.

Friendship, respect and common ideals are a stronger foundation than history itself.

Mr. Chairman, may I thank you and wish you well! (applause) [end p12]

Questions and Answers

Mike Steckaty (Sydney Morning Herald)

Will you support Malcolm Fraser to be the next Secretary General of the Commonwealth? If so, do you think it is appropriate that he uses the position to promote his forthright views on South Africa? If not, would you be expansive about your reasons?

Prime Minister

I expect that we shall probably be asked to support a number of different candidates for General Secretary of the Commonwealth. We do not yet know who those candidates will be. When we know them all, we shall make up our mind about whom to support.

I am sure you will think that a very diplomatic reply! It is an accurate one as well! (applause) [end p13]

Craig Skian (Australian Associated Press)

I was also going to ask you about Mr. Fraser, but I will move on to another area.

The mood in the United States Congress appears to be to place greater pressure on Europe and Britain to pay a greater proportion of the costs of US forces in Europe. Do you think that will materialise in terms of Britain and other European countries being required to foot a greater percentage of the bill for Europe's defence?

Prime Minister

We are all very grateful for United States forces in Europe. I think the United States is right to insist on a fairer sharing of the burden, but we are no slouches in Britain.

We keep about 66,000 troops on the front line in Germany, which is about the same proportion according to our size as the United States keeps there. We also do, like the United States, considerable out-of-area defence, as you know. Our navies still sail all the seas in the world and I am very glad that six of them will be visiting here soon and visiting your many ports.

And we also keep, as I told the United States Congress when I actually spoke to them, because I am used to being tackled about we do not do enough—we in Britain do. We actually have forces, [end p14] at the request of countries, in thirty-eight countries in the world, some of them in considerable strength, some of them in one form of peace-keeping or another, some of them by request, as what we call “loan service personnel” to help to train the armed forces of other countries, and we have numerous requests to come to Britain for our training and for our skills. So we play our full part and will continue to play our full part.

I think they are right to expect that those in NATO who do not play an out-of-area NATO role should have an increasing share of the burden. We do have an out-of-area NATO role to play as well, but let us never forget to thank the United States for the role she plays in pursuing peace with freedom and justice throughout the whole world (applause).

Mark Dodd (Radio 23H)

What advice could you give Opposition Leader, John Howard, on how best to please the business community—a problem with which he seems to be having a not inconsiderable amount of difficulty? [end p15]

Prime Minister

The advice I give is the advice which enabled me to proceed to three victories. It is quite simple: re-enunciate the principles in which you believe. You formulate the policies from those, which are policies that it is not Government's job to do everything. It is Government's job to get the finances right and to provide a framework of law in which free enterprise can operate, and a framework of taxation policy as well. Stick to those policies and be absolutely united.

Yes, sometimes the business community will not always like them. There are people in the business community who would love cosy cartels. It is not the task of Government to let them have that. It is the task of Government to set a framework in which competition flourishes as well.

So our job: get the finances right, get the framework of law right, remembering always it is not Government's job to run industry, but Government's task to allow industry the better to run itself in free and open competition and by getting down trade barriers, because unless your industry is capable of competing it will soon be inefficient industry. And you stick to that policy through thick and thin! (applause) [end p16]

Robin Oakley (The Times)

Prime Minister, you and Mr. Hawke are both known for holding forthright views. On what did you disagree in your talks? (laughter)

Prime Minister

What a very tactless question! If there were matters on which we disagreed, we wisely kept off them! (applause) We are here to promote increasing positive friendship, increasing positive cooperation and we shall continue to do that. I am sorry it will not make headlines, but it is true!

Paul Kelly (News Limited)

Could you tell us the quality you most admire in Bob Hawke?

Prime Minister

I am afraid I had not necessarily done a sufficient analysis, but Bob Hawkehe and I, I must tell you, get on very well. We both believe in debating freely, expressing our views, and sometimes in international conferences we do not agree, but there is no rancour about it whatsoever and I think that is a very good basis on which to conduct a relationship between one head of one country and one head of another (applause). [end p17]

Gillie Finn (Radio TV, Sydney)

Mrs. Thatcher, you spoke in your speech about the need to be cautious as far as the Soviets were concerned. The Australian Government is currently considering a fishing deal with the Soviets. Do you think that would be a wise course of action and how much of a threat do you think the Soviets present in this region?

Prime Minister

I think that communism continues to present a threat in the Pacific region. You have only to look around it to know that that is correct.

With regard to the fishing agreement, it is a matter for Australia. I am sure they will consider that that agreement or that proposal merits very careful examination indeed.

Tony Allen (Maquori (Phon) News)

Australian taxpayers currently subsidise your Government one million dollars a year in topping up the pensions of British recipients living in Australia. Will Britain start indexing these pensions to inflation so that Australian taxpayers are saved this embarrassment? [end p18]

Prime Minister

Yes. May I make it clear, your pension system and ours is very different and that is one of the problems.

Our basic pension scheme is a scheme under which all people of working age have to contribute each year to a basic state retirement pension, which is theirs as of right and not according to means—as of right, in proportion as they have contributed. So ours is a universal basic pension scheme.

For people who have no more than that, if they are still in need we have a top-up which used to be called Supplementary Benefit and which is now known as Income Support, but for the basic pension there is neither income means-testing nor capital asset-testing because it has been a contributory pension scheme. Now you can see straightaway that it is very different from the scheme which you run. Therein lies one of the difficulties.

We do have reciprocal arrangement with, I think, some twenty-seven countries, which take into account the differences in our pension scheme but where we do not have those arrangements we have taken the view that because of the nature of this scheme, which goes to everyone no matter what your means even though they are very considerable, we have not topped-up the inflation over and above the amount which they had when they left United Kingdom, because the topping-up in fact comes from present taxpayers in the United Kingdom.

It is possible that we shall come to a new reciprocal agreement, but that will need to be carefully negotiated taking into account the differences and we shall be looking at that in the future. [end p19]

Michael Heath (10 Network)

Can I ask you, hasn't your rationale for your determined effort to ban Peter Wright 's book turned out to be extremely weak, given that during the trial your own Cabinet Secretary admitted that your security forces knew who the source of Chapman Pincher 's book “Their Trade is Treachery” was, namely Peter Wright, and that there was compelling evidence during the trial that your Government gave de facto authorisation for Chapman Pincher 's book to be published?

Prime Minister

I would not accept the premises which you have indicated as the basis for your question.

I do not answer questions while the courts still have not completely determined the final result. The matter is still before the House of Lords and it would be quite wrong for me, representing a government which is appearing before the House of Lords, to make any comment upon it.

Bronman Young (Australian Financial Review)

Mrs. Thatcher, you have said that you get on very well with our Prime Minister, Bob Hawke.

Do you have much in common with Opposition Leader, John Howard? [end p20]

Prime Minister

Yes, of course, a whole policy! (applause)

Michelle Grattan (The Age)

Mrs. Thatcher, you were free with some advice to John Howard earlier. I wonder if you might have some for Mr. Hawke, who has been very anxious to walk down the privatisation road to some degree, but has encountered party obstacles.

How would you handle that problem in his place?

Prime Minister

I wouldn't ever be in his place! I wouldn't be in his shoes, so the question does not arise! I can only tell you how we have handled it in Britain.

It is not Government's job to run industry. On the whole, you do not have an enormous number of people in Government who have experience of running an industry. It is not Government's job to run industry or to determine the investment of industry or its policies. It is Government's job to leave industry to run industry, because they can respond instantly and quickly to the market.

I can only tell you how we have tackled ours. We have privatised industry after industry and most of them have done far better under private ownership. We have privatised them in such a way that we gave preferential shares to all of the people who worked [end p21] in that industry, because our policy is that every earner shall become an owner. We have capital-owning democracy spreading ever more widely. I have got 64 percent of houses owner-occupied and one in five of our people now own shares. It has been a very very good policy.

Others we have brought up to a position where we can privatise them. For example, when we took over, British Steel was making a loss of something like £800 million a year and the taxpayer had to cough up that £800 million—quite wrong! All right! We got rid of the restrictive practices, we slimmed it down while it was still in fact nationalised. All of the decisions which previous governments had run away from taking, we took. This year, it made £400 million profit. This year, it will be privatised and then it will continue to run extremely well, by facing the world market.

It was also interesting that this year the ration quotas of Europe have ceased to be.

No. If you really want industry to flourish, you put it in the hands of those who know how to run it and Government gets on with doing its things: the safety and security of the currency; the right rule of law; the right taxation system; the right defence; the right basic education and increasing of opportunity and the right basic social services; and if you do all that, you really do not have time to run industry as well! (applause) [end p22]

David Jones (The Seven Network, Your Daughter Carol 's Friendly Workplace)

Can I ask you the significance of the drug-trafficking agreement you signed this morning with Mr. Hawke and how will it make it easier for law enforcement officials to deal with this problem?

Prime Minister

Yes, it will make it easier.

What we are getting now is agreement between many countries that we can actually follow the assets and confiscate the assets of drug traffickers wherever those assets may be in the world, because what was happening previously was that, all right, even if you got the person who was peddling drugs, even if you managed to convict him and have quite a severe prison sentence, they felt that when they came out they had an absolute pile of money to which they or their families could have access.

What we are trying to do is to follow and confiscate their assets. That means that we have specific agreements between countries. When I was in Canada, we signed one there and in Australia, we signed one here, so it is one more deterrent to drug trafficking and we make every combined effort between our services to cooperate on the intelligence network.

If caught, you not only have a prison sentence but you lose the assets which you gained from drug trafficking and it is a very very good agreement (applause). [end p23]

Paul Lineham (ABC 7.30 Report)

If we are to believe in the prospect of some realistic time-table for change in South Africa without genuine sanctions, could you give us some idea of what you think that time-table might be like and secondly, how true to life is “Yes, Prime Minister!” ?

Prime Minister

I do not know that one can set a time-table for change in Southern Africa, but of one thing I am absolutely certain:

The enormous problems which that country has of getting rid of apartheid would not be helped by—from a comfortable luncheon or parliament building or international conference in a five-star hotel—deciding that there should be poverty and starvation on the part of a large number of black people because we would choose to impose comprehensive sanctions. That would not help at all and I would always myself shrink from doing it. There are enough problems there already.

I think that we have isolated South Africa. It is very very strange. We have talked to the Soviet Union, even though we fundamentally disagreed with them, and we tended to isolate South Africa. Perhaps if we had talked more she would see more about what happened in our countries. Perhaps the improvement would have been faster. [end p24]

In the meantime, it is the big foreign companies that have enormous investment there that are actually breaking down apartheid because they have housing schemes where they have totally mixed housing; they have training schemes where they train on merit and where they pay on merit; and to have any sanctions against them or investment sanctions against them would be to break down the instrument which in practice will bring apartheid to an end.

One further point. South Africa has the strongest economy in Africa. Many of the front-line states depend upon it or depend upon passage through South Africa and some three million non-South Africans go to work in South Africa and remit their earnings home, and I think you will find that in practice the front-line states and others in Africa who are very vociferous sometimes in what they say about me, do not in fact impose sanctions themselves, because it would be highly damaging to their own people as well as highly damaging to those whom they seek to help in South Africa.

So, yes, we shall continue to not merely hope but continue to make very strong representations for change. I think the economic change is going faster than the political change. The economic level is coming up faster than the political level, and I do say to the South African Government: “Don't you realise that when you have got people, many very well educated, many doing very very well—not just a few but many many—it is even worse to say to them: ‘You [end p25] cannot have any say in government!’ than before they had reached that position?” So we shall continue to do everything we can most strenuously to bring about change.

We ourselves have quite a lot of money going to train black South Africans and we give active help to the front-line states, so we have a positive policy of help.

I wish I could give you a time-table for change. I cannot, but I hope that it will soon start on the formula of the Eminent Persons Group dialogue in return for suspension of violence on all sides. That would be the best way.

“Yes, Prime Minister!” I adore. It is marvellous. I just love Sir Humphrey. I think he is fantastic! I do not always think very much of the Prime Minister. The bits about the Prime Minister are not true at all but Sir Humphrey is very very nice! (applause)

Paul Malone (Canberra Times)

There has been a good deal of criticism of the British news management or disinformation campaign to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings of late. In the last two, four leaders have criticised them and there has also been criticism in the media.

What action have you taken to ensure that such disinformation campaigns will not go on in the future? [end p26]

Prime Minister

I am sorry! I do not quite get the question! Who is accused of disinformation?

Paul Malone

Four leaders, including Mr. Hawke, Mr. Mugabe, Mr. Kaunda and Mr. Gandhi actually specifically said that there had been a British disinformation campaign from the briefings.

Prime Minister

What absolute nonsense! What absolute nonsense! Good Heavens! Have you ever heard me say anything except what I think and say and find pretty forthrightly? It is a policy I have started and I shall continue! (applause)

Graham World (ABC)

Given your enthusiasm for Australia's lead in agricultural subsidies, why did the Toronto Economic Summit fail to adopt interim measures in the lead-up to the mid-term review later this year? [end p27]

Prime Minister

The Toronto Economic Summit is not a negotiating body. It is not a body for executive decisions. It is a body for setting policy. In Europe, the body for executive decisions is the European Community and we had taken ours about having a limited agricultural budget within which we have to live and in taking policies both to get down existing surpluses and to stop new ones from coming.

Now that only goes up to 1992 and what we wanted at the Toronto Economic Summit was an undertaking to go further to deal with the matter, which we believe we got in the communique, but you then go to the decision-taking body which is the Montreal meeting towards the end of this year.

Kate Wall (ABC Current Affairs Radio)

You said in your advice to John Howard that if the Conservative parties here are to win government, they should establish policies to allow free enterprise to operate.

Given that the Labour Government has done that, what further advice would you give Mr. Howard and also, do you ever wish that there were more women that you deal with on a day-to-day government level and senior bureaucratic level? [end p28]

Prime Minister

Yes, I do wish there were more women. It is still difficult but most women get married and have young families and the fact is it is still difficult for women to leave young families and come to Canberra or come to London.

I was dead lucky. My constituency is in Greater London, Denis Thatchermy husband's job was in London, our home was in London, so it was easy for me, but in practice, it is very much more difficult for very able young women with young families to come to Canberra or to Washington or to London, but I hope they will keep in contact and many more of them will come when their children are—well they are never off hand are they? … they are never off hand, and we would not like it if they were—but when their children are better able to cope on their own responsibility.

I am sure that if Mr. Howard follows the policies which we have pursued in Britain as a matter of conviction and faith and sticks to them, that he will find it very very good indeed for his future and that of everything his party believes (applause)