Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke told a joint meeting of Congress Thursday that as a staunch ally and friend of the United States his nation deserves "a fair go" in the international competition for trade.
Hawke, who is in the United States for talks with President Reagan, complained that Australia's producers are finding themselves "squeezed out of markets by practices which distort prices and levels of production.""In agriculture we find ourselves caught in the cross-fire of a destructive and counterproductive trans-Atlantic subsidies war," Hawke said.
In consequence, he said, the U.S. share of the world wheat market has soared from 29 percent to 43 percent while Australia's has slumped from 20 percent to 12 percent.
"Australia must not be given to believe that while we are first class allies, we are, in trade, second class friends," Hawke said.
"We believe our relationship entitles us to a fair go in our trade with the United States and in competition with the United States in third markets," Hawke said, adding: "Not, I emphasize, special favors, but a fair go."
Hawke said Australia will slash tariffs by some 30 percent on average over the next four years and challenged the United States to do the same.
"Now you are practicing politicians, and so am I," the prime minister said. "I understand constituency interests. I know that the adjustment process is not easy. But it must be done."
Neighboring New Zealand has barred U.S. warships carrying nuclear weapons from its waters, but Hawke made clear Australia has no intention of following that course.
"The United States has every right to see alliances as a two-way street, to expect that allies will carry their weight," he said. "I assure you that Australia is and will remain such an ally."
"We welcome your ships and aircraft to our ports and airfields," he said.
On other topics, Hawke hailed the renewed dialogue between the United States and the Soviet Union and said the conduct of world affairs must not be tainted "by some kind of creeping pessimism and dulling fatalism."
But he made clear his government's most immediate concern is over adverse economic and world trade trends.