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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 4272


Photo of Fraser, Malcolm

Fraser, Malcolm

Period of Service: 11/11/1975 to 11/03/1983

More information about Fraser, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 09/11/1976

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 4272

The Prime Minister met with Mr Neilson, Premier of Tasmania
on 9 November 1976 for about 45 minutes.
There was brief discussion at the opening of the meeting about
whether these discussions were taking place in the context of
Tasmanian elections and the Premier said that depended on the
course of the discussions.
Shortly before, after Question Time, the Prime Minister had
in fact met employees from Mount Lyell. He referred to the
increased Tasmanian State charges that had fallen on the Mt
Lyell company. He noted that over three years
State payroll tax had gone up about $ 227,000 to about
$ 639,000 and the cost of workers' compensation from
$ 448,000 to about $ 1,200,000 around $ 1 million altogether.
He observed that the Tasmanian State Government had a budget
surplus of about $ 4 million and a surplus in their capital
fund of about $ 17 million.
Mr Neilson said this surplus w. is already committed.
The Prime Minister asked the Premier if he woult-ameliorate
the payroll tax, and the Premier said that this was agreed
to in relation to Mt Lyell. He already had offered to forego
payroll tax on any of the retrenched workers who were
reemployed. The Premier added that the State Government had also offered
to take over the company's apprenticeship scheme.
Discussion then moved on to the 24 point plan that Mr Neilson
produced at Hobart during the Constitutional Convention.
The 24 points are:
1. A special meeting of tae Premier's Conference
and Loan Council to consider the problem of
unemployment. / 2

2. The lifting of the authority of the States to borrow
for the remainder of the year by
3. The establishment of an intermediate technology group
in Tasmania to be subsidised at the rate of $ 1,500 monthly.
4. The immediate lowering of the retirement age to 63 years
with consequent provision of old age pensions for males
at 63 years. Consequent alterations to superannuation
and retirement benefits legislation. The ultimate aim
to make possible retirement at
Private companies increasing their workforce to be
exempted from additional payroll tax for next two years.
6. Special appropriation of $ 2,000,000 for unemployment
7. Increase in preference for local tenderers in all
tenders advertised from today from 10%~ to
8. A Buy Tasmanian campaign to be launched.
9. Extension of Commonwealth Youth Employment Programme
so that State subsidLses by $ 15 weekly C. E. B. for all
breadwinners who have been unemployed for six months.
A new increased intake into the Police Academy.
11. A scholarship scheme for cadets in social welfare,
female secretaryshi., etc.
12. A letting by the Housing Department of individual
houses in country areas to small builders.
13. The establishment of a full-time interdepartmental
youth work unit on the South Australian pattern.
Details to be announced later.
14. The letting of a contract to a local firm to provide
cyclone-style sports halls at a number of schools

The letting of a contract for the provision of
additional terrapin units for education purposes.
16. A number of clearing and reclamation works to
be undertaken by the National Parks and Lands
17. The Commonwealth to be urged to expeditiously
commence the Antarctic Base and Maritime College.
18. Commonwealth to be asked to maintain tighter
protection against overseas imports, particularly
in the textile industry.
19. Comimonwealth to be asked to grant special
dispensation against the effect of the Mackie
Scheme on overseas meat marketing controls.
Portability of apprenticeship within Goverr . snt
departments and instrumentalities.
21. Press the Commonwealth to spend a substantial
sum this year on the rehabilitation of the
22. Dollar for dollar for dairy industry.
23-. $ 1,000,000 on dollar for dollar basis for
municipal councils ( Part of the $ 2,000,000
announced above).
24. A major acceleration of school building programme
to be announced tomorrow. / 4

On the first two points the Prime Minister took the view
that proposals coming forward from the Premiers in this
context involved increased expenditure which would add
to the Federal deficit, and, since the Commonwealth Government
guaranteed the loan programme, increasing the borrowing programme woull
also involve an increase in the deficit. The Prime Minister
did agree to examine with the Treasurer an increase in the
semi-governmental borrowing programme.
The Prime Minister pointed out that any increase in the
semi-governmental programme should be for all States. The
Tasmanians argued that special arrangements should be made for
Tasmania as their share of this programme was only about 3k%.
Point three was not raised by Mr Neilson.
The next point dealt with, was the proposal by Mr Neilson that
the retirement age should be lowered by 2 years to 63 years.
The way the Prime Minister put this was that the Commonwealth
Government was not prepared to meet a short term position
with a solution which would have long term consequences.
On point 5, payroll tax, the Prime Minister continued to
press the Premier for agreement to ameliorate payroll tax
for any arrangements that may be made by Mt Lyell with their
Point 6,7 and 8 were not discussed or raised by Mr Neilson
as a state matter.
Point 9: The Prime Minister agreed to examine the request
for an extension of the Commonwealth Youth Employment Programme.
Mr Neilson is proposing that it be extended to all breadwinners
who have been unemployed for six months.
Points 10 to 16 were regarded by the Premier as State
responsibility and not discussed.

Point 17: The Maritime College and Antarctic Base.
The Premier agreed that the state should provide land at
Launceston for the Maritime College. The Prime Minister
undertook to have the Commonwealth make an early start on
On the Antarctic Base, the Prime Minister said forward
planning was not sufficiently advanced for the Government
to proceed with this now.
Point 18 was the request for protection, particularly in
the textile industry.
The Prime Minister said the Government was advised by the
Industries Assistance Commission, and that it was open to
firms to make applications for temporary protection and
for the Tasmanian Government to give evidence in support.
The Premier's under Treasurer, Mr Les Bellis, informed the
Premier ti at Tasmania had done this.
Point 19: The Prime Minister noted that the Mackie Scheme
had been referred back to the Meat Board for consideration.
Point 20: The Premier said this was a state proposal.
However the Prime Minister undertook to have the Commonwealth
look at the proposal in relation to the Commonwealth Public
Point 21: The Prime Minister told the Premier that there
had been a sharp increase already this year in expenditure
on railways in Tasmania, which were taken over as a result
of agreement with the former government.
About $ 6 million in capital expenditure is being outlayed
during the current year. Excluding Bell Bay, Tasmania' s state
expenditure over five years was $ 5.61 million.
Point 22: The Prime Minister pointed out that the Federal
Government already guarantees producer s'around 60 cents per pound
of contained butterfat. He invited Mr Neilson to add his
proposed subsidy for Tasmania . to that but the Premier declined. / 6

Point 23: The Prime Minister pointed out that last year
local government in Tasmania got $ 2.3 million and that this
year~ the figure had gone up $ 1.7 million to $ 4.004 million,
an increase of 75 per cent.
The Prime Minister said the Grants Commission would be asked to
review the proportion of funds going to individual states
for local government next year.
This would give Tasmania the opportunity to make submissions
about its alleged disadvantage under the arrangements
to which it agreed at the Premiers Conference in June 1976.
Point 24: Senator Carrick pointed out that Tasmania had
received $ 1.2 million extra for schools from the Commonwealth
and that during the current year they would be able to make
a start with spending this money as from October 1 that's
the beginning of last month.
Sunimarising, the Prime Minister gave an undertaking to
examine the semi-governmental programme.
He concurred with Mr Neilson's request that the Commonwealth
would examine a request to extend the Youth Employment
Progra:-me to breadwinners who have been unemployed for
six months, m~ ake an early Ltart on the Maritime College,
review the Mackie proposals, examine the portability of
apprenticeships in the Public Service and support a review
of the Tasmanian share of local government funding for next
year. Discussion then moved on to the specific problem of
Queenstown. The Prime Minister pointed out that earlier
he received a delegation of employees from Queenstown,
conducted by Ray Groom. He told the Premier that these
employees proposed as one possibility a shared-work arrangement,
involving a reduction in wages to maintain employment. / 7

The Prime Minister offered the services of the Department
of Employment and Industrial Relations to assist in any way.
He sought an assurance from the Premier that his offer to
remit payroll tax would be extended to a shared work situation.
The Premier said he would give this favourable consideration.
The Premier then raised the question of assistance for the
purchase of housing, if men from Queenstown had to be relocated.
The Prime Minister's response to this was that the situation
as it was presented to him was that the people of Queenstown
didn't want to be relocated. In any event there is a
standing Government programme on relocation and the Queenstown
situation could be looked at in this light.
Senator Carrick made the point that Tasmanians now enjoyed
the benefit of full freight equalisation for northbound
trade, which is worth something like $ 20 million a year to
Tasmanian producers.
The Prime Minister offered to establish a study of the special
problems of Tasmanian industry. He offered to consult
with the Tasmanian Government on the terms of the inquiry, and
the Premier accepted this offer.
That concluded the discussion.
Mr Neilson asked how long before he received answers
on the matters being examined, and could he have them in
a week. The Prime Minister agreed to aim at that.

Transcript 4272