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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 4822


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: 15/09/1978

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 4822

This transcript is taken from a tape recording. The Parliamentary
Library is not responsible for any errors or omissions.
WILLESEE: Well it seems it is now official, unemployment IS going
to get worse. In Federal Parliament yesterday the Minister for
Employment and Industrial Relations, Tony Street, painted a gloomy
picture. Today, the Leader of the Opposition Mr. Hayden called
for the Prime Minister's resignation saying he had misled the
Australian public over the unemployment situation.
The fact is that, going back to the days of the Whitlam Government,
all governments have agreed that the two problems were inflation and
unemployment. Well Mr. Fraser has done a marvelous job with
inflation but not with unemployment and now wewI , e told officially
it's going to get worse and that's pretty surprising, coming from
any government. The Prime Minister agreed today to this interview
with Paul Black.
PAUL BLACK: Prime Minister, it would seem that the Government
has failed to come to grips with unemployment?
MR. FRASER: No I don't believe so for one moment because our
policies are in fact, as I believe, the only ones that will come
to grips with the problem.
PAUL BLACK: The situation at present is that Mr. Street says
j--ot only will there not be significant improvement but things are
going to get worse.

. Willesee,' 15/ 9/ 78
MR. FRASER Well let me trace the sequence of events through.
We had established the circumstance in which Australian industry
was not competitive. We have to make Australian industry competitive
again, we have to get this country moving forward in a proper and
productive manner arid it is time that vie all recognised, Government,
and I believe we do, State Governments, employers, and trade unions,
that if we're to overcome the problem of unemployment we have all
got a role to play in relation to it.
PAUL BLACK But can you understand then, people saying, okay,
he's doing all that, but nevertheless the facts are that unemployment
is getting worse and therefore we think he's failed?
MR. FRASER Well I think people are capable of following the
facts of the argument a good deal better than that and not coming
to that particular conclusion because the average Australian
working man, if not a number of union leaders, know quite well that
if wage rates are too high, if conditions change too much, which I
puts too much of a cost on employers, that employers are going to be
able to afford to employ less people.
PAUL BLACK But Prime Minister, can you understand people doubting
your word, as Government leader, when they see the~ possibility of
half a million of their colleagues being out of work by January/ Februa
FR. FRASER I believe people can understand that there were
very serious situations created during the time of our predecessors.
I believe that the average Australian has much, much more intelligence
than very often politicians allow for and that he does understand
that these matters can't be put right quickly and therefore I think
he can understand what I am saying.
PAUL BLACK : Does Mr. Street's statement yesterday have
full Cabinet backing?
MR. FRASER : Oh of course it does. We believe that Mr. Street
needed to lay out the situation plainly, clearly, so that everyone
can see it, so that everyone...
PAUL BLACK It's official,

Willesee., 15/ 9/ 78
MR. FRASER : Oh yes of course it is so that everyone can
therefore understand what the problemi. But we also, and this I
think was the real reason for it, we wanted people to understand
-the part that they can play in helping to overcome it.
PAUL BLACK Did you really want hint to make that sort of
MR. FR ASER The statement he did? Oh yes of course. And something
that in fact, Tony Street and myself had discussed over a
period of two, three, four months, maybe. I
PAUL BLACK It's a very pessimistic outlook though isn't it?
MR. FRASER Well I don't think it is pessimistic in this sense.
I do feel excited about Australia's future, when I can see the
position in which when what we want is people to have confidence
in this country and I think sometimes Australians are too diffident
I think Australians could have more confidence in their own country
because of their own country's achievements and when they start
-to put Australia in the same company as Germany's, well then that's
respectable company, and I believe that
PAUL BLACK But people are going to find that very hard to
understand, to relate to the world situation aren't they, they're
going to look at the situation more on an Australian level and say,
Mr. Street virtually said yesterday, if you're looking for a job,
forget it didn't he?
MR. FRASER: Oh no I don't think so, not for a moment, because
again I think that question under-estimates the responsibility and
capacity to understand of the Australian people.
PAUL BLACK But there are thousands of Australians who will
never know the security of a permanent job?
MR. FRASER: I believe that Australians, if they want to get a
permanent job can go to the training programs that we have and, you
know, it is not adequately understood, that there are 110,000
Autralians, a very large proportion of them young Australians, in
training, on job, at any one time and well over 60% of that keep

Willesee, 15/ 9/ 78
MRZ. FRASER cont Id:
their jobs at the end of the training period. These programs
will be improved, they will be extended, and coupled with those
opportunities and with the growing profitability of Australian
industry I believe that Australians who want to work and want to
look forward to the future with c. Ionfidence are going to have
opportunities opened up for them.
WILLESEE: Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser talking with Paul Black.
Mr. Fraser made great play there of the intelligence of Australians.
It's a funny thing, you know, Mr. Fraser once said that he needed
three years to set the economy right, he is now saying* that
Australians are intelligent enough to understand that these
matters can't be put right quickly and also we remember his election
promises and predictions unemployment will go down, it's gone up,
arnd now the Government tells it is going to keep going up.
So much for unemployment and election promises.

Transcript 4822