PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 4463


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: 13/08/1977

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 4463

Embargoed until 10.30 a. m. F77,/ 173
~ A U 5T R A Li
It is twenty months to the day since the Government was so
resoundingly elected to office, and when all five Tasmanian
seats in the House of Representatives were won by Liberals.
I am very mindful of the magnificent contribution which Tasmanian
Liberals made to our election victory people like Senator Reg
Wright who is leaving Parliament in June next year after a long
career in politics. Senator Wright is determined, sometimes
irascible, a dogged fighter for those values important for the
Liberal cause a man independent in mind and action. If
sometimes he is judged wrong, the integrity of his support
for the Tasmanian cause can never be denied.
The Liberal Party won the 1975 election because we were committed
to a new direction in government, because we were committed to
increasing people's independence, and their ability to achieve
a better society. We rejected the view that the way to solve
Australia's problems was more Government spending, and bigger,
more intrusive government. Labor believed this and it almost
stifled Australia, almost suffocated the creativity and energy
of the Australian people. And after the Perth Conference, it
is clear that Labor would do it again.
We have made a beginning in fulfilling our commitment to create
a better Australia. We have halted the growth of big government.
Estimates indicate that the Government's share of gross national
product has fallen, and the number of Commonwealth employees has
been reduced by 12,000. This is 31,000 less than it would have
been under Labor's policies. We have fundamentally reformed the
taxation system. Tax indexation now prevents taxes rising simply
because of inflation. Our reforms of company taxation are preventing
businessmen being taxed on the illusory profits produced
by the effect of inflation on their stocks. We have provided
greater protection for individuals. The Ombudsman and the
Administrative Appeals Tribunal have commenced work. The
Federal Court system has been reformed. Procedures for the
review of administrative decisions have been simplified. / We have

we have provided aid to those who are in real need, in ways
increasing their independence and providing greater opportunities
for choice. Our Family Allowance Scheme makes a direct cash
payment to all mothers and benefits the poorest sections of the
community most. The concentra-tion of power in the hands of the
Government has been reversed. Our policies have given greater
financial independence and responsibility to the states and to
local government.
The Government has done much to help the rural sector which has
suffered so acutely from falling real incomes and decreasing
competitiveness in overseas markets. We have introduced a numnber
of measures to provide essential short-term assistance, including
carry-on loans at concessional rates of interest to beef and dairy
producers; abolition of the Meat Export Levy; underwriting of
prices for certain dairy products; drought and other natural
disaster relief. At the same time we have reintroduced the superphosphate
bounty, and are assisting longer-term structural adjustments
under our new Rural Adjustment Scheme.
We have introduced Income Equalisation Deposits to help farmers cope
with the problem of sharply fluctuating incomes. We have secured
improved access to overseas markets for many of our agricultural
products. Sales have been concluded for more beef to the United
States, the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, more
wheat to China, more cheese to Japan, more lamb and live sheep to
the Middle-East.
Last weekend, during my meetings with ASEAN Heads of Government,
I had extensive discussions with Japan's Prime Minister Fukuda on
beef and sugar. I pointed out to him that the present arrangement
of negotiating beef quotas every six months was disruptive to the
beef industry's ability to operate effectively. An industry which
has to plan for the long term cannot be properly based on a six
months decision-making process. I put it to Mr. Fukuda that our
officials should work together closely to devise a system which
would better serve the needs of stability. He agreed. We shall
shortly be sending a team of officials to Japan. We will be arguing
for stability of access, for example, a base quota together with a
growth factor related, say, to beef consumption in Japan.
With respect to the current negotiations on sugar, I stressed that
the security of long term contracts as bankable documents should
not be comprised in any way, and as a result of my conversations
with Mr. Fukuda we agreed that the commercial parties should continue
their negotiations. I emphasised to Mr. Fukuda that I
considered that C. S. R. had made concessions enough, and -that any
changes which are made in the contract relating to sales up to
1980 must be compensated for by advantages to our sugar industry
after 1980. I believe that our talks laid the foundation for
commercial agreement between the parties, including what happens
after 1980. The Australian Government continues to give very strong
support indeed to C. S. R. as * the holder of a valid contract. I am
sure that this is understood and there is a strong desire on the
part of Japan and Australia to have the matter settled by commercial
negotiations. / At home,

At home, the Government has paid particular attention to
Tasmania. Tasmania relied heavily on a small number of
businesses, and on the shipment and sale interstate and
overseas of a few major commodities. This dependence makes
Tasmania acutely vulnerable to changes in demand for those
products. High costs and uncertainty in transporting goods
to the mainland have meant all too often that Tasmanian goods
suffer first when buyers cut the level of their purchases.
Last year, Mr. Justice Nimmo reported that Tasmanian shippers
suffered a cost disadvantage. In response to this finding,
the Government introduced the Freight Equalisation Scheme.
In the financial year just ended, the Government paid
$ 16 million in subsidies under the Scheme for goods shipped
to the mainland. This assistance has enabled many Tasmanian
producers to compete in mainland markets and is providing a
strong boost to the state's economy. In addition, an
estimated $ 3 million per year will be payable for the
southbound subsidy. The subsidy will be payable with
respect to certain Tasmanian imports of non-consumer
materials and equipment from the mainland where producers
suffer a transport disability. The benefits to the state
of the southbound scheme will be widespread. Major mining
and manufacturing firms will benefit; farmers can claim
assistance on tractors and other major items of capital
equipment; those'engaged in forestry operations can claim
on heavy equipment; manufacturers of furniture and other
timber products can claim on capital equipment; and food
processors and a variety of other small industries will benefit.
Assistance to all primary producers and most businesses engaged
in manufacturing and mining will be retrospective to 1 July
last year. This means that over the next twelve months,
Tasmanian producers will receive about $ 6 million in south
bound subsidies.
Even more importantly, the Government has allocated to
Tasmania, in recognition of its special difficulties, a
far higher amount per capita than for any other state.
During the financial year just ended, grants and loan funds
to this state amounted to over $ 1,000 for every Tasmanian.
This is one and three quarter times the amount per person
allocated to my own state, Victoria, and higher than for any
other state. The Government has also adopted a deliberate
policy of locating appropriate Commonwealth-funded organisations
in this state. We are locating the main site of the
Australian Maritime College at Newnham. We are committed to
moving the centre of our Antarctic operations from Melbourne
to Kingston. This will inject over $ 7 million into the local
economy, and the Secretariat to the Advisory Council for
Inter-Government Relations is being established in Hobart.
Numerous other capital grants have been made for the Tasman
Bridge, the Launceston General Hospital for the Inveresk Urban
Redevelopment Scheme, and the total of all these grants, when
work is completed, will be over 100 million. We have also
given substantial financial support to the softwood, dairying,
fruit growing and tourist industries. / We

We commissioned the Callaghan Enquiry to establish what
more might be done to help Tasmania's positions. The
Government has recently received the report from that
enquiry and we are considering its recommendations.
Like all Australians, Tasmanians have benefitted from our
success in reducing inflation. Inflation is corrosive of
our society. It harms the weak, it undermines confidence
and security, it stifles business. In the first half of this
year, excluding hospital and medical services, the annual
inflation rate was 10.4%. In the last half of 1974 by
comparison, inflation was running at In 1976, private
investment for plant and equipment rose in real terms by 6.8%.
Company profits were up 27% in the March quarter compared with
the preceding year, and we have restored real growth to the
economy...-But. there is still much. to be done. Inflation must
be reduced further and unemployment must be reduced.
A number-. of innovative schemes-have been introduced to
alleviate youth unemployment, with encouraging results.
The Community Youth Support Scheme-now involes some 15,000
young people. The NEAT Scheme has been expanded to cover
18,000 people,' three quarters of whom have found a job at
the end of their term under the Scheme. NEAT's special youth
employment training programme is particularly successful. it
subsidises employers to hire young people who have been unemployed
for a lengthy period of time. Over 70% of them retain their
jobs when the subsidy expires. The CRAFT scheme for pr-omoting
apprenticeships now covers over 41,500 apprenticeships, and
apprenticeships are up A total of 101,000 people have
now directly benefitted from these schemes. No-one has been
turned away from help under these schemes for lack of Government
finance,, and we shall place no arbitrary limit on funds available
for these very important programmes in this financial year.
in addition to these.-programmes, the Government's Education
Programme for unemployed youth is -taking shape. Young people
who have been unemployed for four months or more are being
vocationally tested to ascertain potential abilities and
defects in basic skills. They are then placed in. small groups
in technical colleges where they experience remedial training
and receive personal advice and guidance. But if there are to
be-jobs for all those who want to work, we must face the fact
that in recent years wage increases have priced many people out
of work. We are still suffering from the excessive wage increase
Labor promoted, when, in the two years to October 1975 award
wages in manufacturing industry increased by 53%. One survey
published last month revealed that one-third of companies
absorbed the recent wage i ncreases awarded by the Arbitration
Commission by laying off workers. The message is clear:
recent wage increases have directly led to further unemployment,
and have far outstripped gains in productivity. In the
financial year just ended, average weekly earnings increased
8%. / Iicw long

How long must it take for union leaders to realise that
only high and rising productivity can sustain a high wage
structure. Trade union wages policy is designed to perpetuate
the distortions which occurred under Labor the very distortions
which moved Australia from habitual full employment to
an economy of high unemployment. A responsible union approach
to industrial disputes is also vital. Unwarranted strikes and
stoppages contribute to unemployment, and impose hardship on
Australians. The air controllers strike was a blatant example
of the selfish attempt by a powerful minority to circumvent
accepted methods of dispute settling, and impose their will
on the community. This strike was resolved only after we
indicated that we would bring down emergency legislation as
a matter of urgency, and would intervene if necessary to
ensure that Tasmania was not stranded without air links to
the mainland. Stoppages have disrupted mining in the Pilbara.
The seamen's dispute has halted the $ 250 million Norwich Park
project. Industrial disputes of this type harm Australia.
The overwhelming majority of Australians, the overwhelming
majority of trade unionists, opposes them. The lack of
reason and common sense inherent in the initiation of many
strikes entitles Australians to ask whether such strikes are
deliberately striking at our country's well being. It is time
the selfish minority recognised that they are members of a
civilised community not a jungle in which the most militant
can get their way, irrespective of the cost to others.
We have legislated to bring greater justice, common sense
and consultation to industrial relations. We have established
the Industrial Relations Bureau, and the National Labour
Consultative Council. We have legislated to provide for
secret postal ballots for the election of officers registered
under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and to limit their
term of office to four years. We have amended legislation to
make it easier for the Government to intervene in cases before
the Arbitration Commission to ensure that the public interest
is adequately protected, and we have amended the Trade
Practices Act to ban damaging secondary boycotts by employees
which do not concern disputes over conditions of employment.
Our approach has resulted in a significant reduction in the
level of industrial disputes. During the first five months
of 1977, we had by far the lowest level of industrial disputes
and the lowest total of working days lost during this decade.
559,000 working days have been lost, compared to almost
4 million days lost for the comparable period in 1974. The
Government will be bringing down further industrial relations
legislation in the coming session of Parliament.
Ladies and gentlemen, much has been done to implement Liberal
policies in all areas of Government. But it is only a
beginning. There is still much to be done. More needs
to be done to ensure that assistance is given to those most
in need. We have already acted in many areas to protect
civil liberties, but we shall implement further reforms. / we

We cannot afford to take our fundamental liberties for
granted. More needs to be done for our aboriginal
conmmunities. We shall train more aborigines as field
workers for our programmes, and the Law Reform Commission
is examining the feasibility of recognising aboriginal
customary law as part of the law of the land.
We will go further in establishing the conditions in which
our rights as individuals are fully protected, in which
individual initiative is recognised and rewarded, in which
Government can effectively serve the community. In this
great challenge, we need your wholehearted support. We
rely on the constant stimulus of new ideas, new solutions
which Liberal Party Councils across the country can provide.
The central theme of Liberalism concern for the individual
has never lost its relevance. It is the responsibility of
all of us the inheritors of a great Liberal tradition
to keep alive the ideas and ideals of Liberalism, and, by
so doing, maintain the vitality and leadership which this
great party of ours has displayed ever since its inception.

Transcript 4463