250 Telegram from New Zealand High Commission in Canberra to Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Canberra, 23 July 1982

No 2086. RESTRICTED ROUTINE

ANZCER: The ALP

In the last couple of weeks there have been some indications that the ALP may be positioning itself to come out against the proposed CER arrangements. Until now the ALP attitude has been certainly flexible and on the whole reasonably positive. These indications are far from unequivocal however, and even today the AFR carries a small story to the effect that the ACTU President, Cliff Dolan, supports CER.

  1. However, you will have seen (our 1994) the text of a statement issued last week by Chris Hurford (shadow Minister for Industry and Commerce) and also signed by John Brown (shadow Minister for business and Consumer Affairs) and John Kerin (shadow Minister for Primary Industry). While the statement seems to have been occasioned by lobbying from forestry interests, its criticism of the CER arrangements was cast in fairly general germs. In the highly charged political atmosphere following the ALP conference and leading up to the vote for the leadership, this statement may not necessarily have been very representative of party thinking but if so, we have not as yet been able to see Hurford to make an assessment, and nor has he sought a briefing from Federal officials. It is clear however, that whitegoods and car componentry interests in his urban Adelaide electorate have lobbied him fairly actively, and he may feel he has to take these into account. For example, we understand that representatives of unions involved in the white goods industry called on Sir Phillip Lynch a couple of weeks ago to register their dissatisfaction with the CER arrangements and that Hurford himself has asked some rather pointed questions of Mr Anthony about the arrangements for whitegoods. What is unclear therefore is whether the criticisms Hurford has made of the CER arrangements reflect views within the ALP caucus as a whole, or merely spring from specific electoral pressures which Hurford himself is particularly sensitive to.
  2. According to Melbourne's 615 to you, representatives of the ACTU and the NZFOL were scheduled to meet in Wellington to discuss attitudes towards CER. This meeting could also have a bearing on ALP attitudes. Do you know whether the meeting took place, and if so, what the outcome was?
  3. Hurford himself is going to be out of Canberra for the next couple of weeks but we have pencilled in an appointment for 18 August.
  4. We will report further.

[ABHS 950/Box 1228, 40/4/2 Part 4 Archives New Zealand/Te Whare Tohu Tuhituhinga 0 Aotearoa, Head Office, Wellington]