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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 5140

PRIME MINISTER'S ADDRESS TO DINNER FUNCTION, DARWIN

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: 14/09/1979

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 5140

FOR MEDIA FRIDAY, 14 SEPTEMBERJ. 979
PRIME MINISTER' S ADDRESS TO DINNER FUNCTION, DARWIN
-It's good to be here. It's goed to see the progress that
has been made. Something always happens to people whien they
come to have a much greater say in their own Government and in
their own affairs. Decisions start to get made more quickly.
The lines of communication are much shorter and much more effective,,
Of course, I can't allow Paul to take the total credit for
that. I've got to say that our polcies in trying to keep
inflation under control and getting markets for the beef
industry overseas, and other things like that, are designed
to contribute to the well-being of the Northern Territory
and are designed to contribute to the well-bein~ g o-L Australia.
Whatever we do, wherever we are, whether it is in D~ arwin or
Alice Springs or in some other State, what happens in Australia
is in part dependent upon the wider world situation. We are
a great trading nation with up to 30% of our gross national
product dependent upon trade. Therefore, if something happens
overseas -that damages markets, damages prospects for grow,-. th
of the world economy, in the past that had a significant
impact upon Australia. But we've now got to the stage
where no matter what happens overseas, we've got to make sure
that Australia can go forward with strength.
We have the capacity to do that, because we have great resources
in this country; many forms and abundant supplies of many
different forms of energy, of great mineral resources, as well
as beef and wool and wheat and a whole variety of commodities
that the world needs.
We can attract investment from overseas for a whole variety
of reasons, so long as we run our own economy well.. So long as
we make sure that Australia's inflation keeps blow our major
trading partners. Even if world trade does grow slowly, and even
if there isn't much growth in the United States in this year
we are responding and in fact are being strengt-hened.
There is not much growth in Europe. Because of the capacity
of Australia, because we have run this economy well, we can
attract more than our fair share of world investment;, can still
look forward with great and enormous ccnfidence. If the world
outside is having a difficult time, that is no reason for
people in the Territory to be deterred. It is certainly no
reason for Australia to be deterred. I. t just means that we have
to be that much better; that much more competitive, to get
a larger share of what is going so that we can go forward with
great confidence-in the years ahead. ./ 2

-2-
The strength of the economy has grown greatly over the
last three to four years. This growth is backed in the
manufacturing sector, in the export sector. Profitability
is up. It can be better still, but has improved greatly
from a few years ago.
Even though there are some renewed inflationary pressures
which concern us all as I know. I think it is fair enough
to look at what's happening in other countries, because while
there is some increased inflationary pressure in Australia,
in the United States, at an annual rate, inflation is now
running at about 14%. In the United Kingdom it is a horrible
figure of about 22% on the latest figures available. I think
that will come down substantially in the months ahead, but
at the moment it is a terrifying thought.
The advanced industrial countries alone are only a fraction
under 13%, with Australia around It's worth noting
those figures. It means even if our inflation is-higher
than we thought a year ago--for reasons that we well know--
we are still becoming more competitive with many
people and many other countries, because the margin in favour
of Australia is improving. That is the very opposite of
what happened when LChe Australian Labor was in power.
They started with an inflation under the world average, ended
with an inflation 5 points above the world average, or the
OECD average, and we've got that back until we are under the
average of those advanced industrial countries once again.
That'is essential if Australia's firms, Australia' s exporters,
are going to be able to get out and get a better share of
the domestic market and a better share of world markets overseas.
It is quite exciting I think, now, to see Australian manufacturers
getting out and beating competition, often beating competition
from developing countries. We are making fishing boats in* PertCh,
Sbeating competition from Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
How many people would have thought that we could do that with
Australia's labour costs.
Two years ago Jim Killen came along with a contract from a
French firm to build a major replenishment ship for the Navy.
About $ 80 million worth. But wewsaid no, we would like to know
what it would cost to build that at Vicker's Co. Dock in Sydney:
it might cost more. it might mean a subsidy, but we just wanted
to know what the subsidy would have to be so if we could keep
the work in Australia we wanted to. A while ago we got the
tenders from the Australian firm. No question of any subsidy
being needed. The French contract was the best the international
world could provide; the Australian tenders were some millions
of dollars lower. They'd won the contract for a sophisticated
military ship on their merit. That again, is an example of
the growing competitiveness in Australia which I think we can
be very proud about.

-3
We are recognised internationally as a good place for
investment; and last year the largest overseas investment
in this country for the decade -since about 1971 or 1972.
In coal alone, there was $ 2 billion worth of investment.
In bauxite and aluminium there is $ 4 billion worth
of investment. These decisions have all been made in recent
times and they are people voting with their dollars; votes
of confidece in the future of Australia as a good country
to have their assets and a good country in which to invest.
4
In the Northern Territory you are going ahead again, because
with less than 1% of Australia's population, you are getting
or more of the investment projects that are taking place
right around Australia. I think that is also something to
be proud of in the Territory.
In marked contrast to South Australia, with nearly 10% of
the population, under the magnificent policies of the
Australian Labor Party, getting about 2% or less of investment:
holding up mines, holding up opportunities because of
policies that are archaic and outdated as our Chairman indicated.
I am quite sure that Territorians don't want any of that here.
You want a Government that is going to encourage and work in
partnersh~ ip with the Commonwealth and make sure that this
Territory proceeds as rapidly as possible and grows strongly
into the future.
Even though there is much more
strength, even though there is confidence overseas in Australia
of a very vigorous kind, there are still some undesirable
aspects in our situation and worse in the world situation; dangers
that we have to get around, dangers that we have to plan
to avoid.
We all know what happened with inflationary pressures coming
from oil problems in Iran and the Middle East. And also the
inflationary pressures that have come out of higher beef prices.
But I-guess there are many people in the Northern Territory
and other parts of Australia who are prepared to ride with that
because higher beef prices were very needed. If they hadn't
occurred many people would be in great trouble. One of the
great benefits to the Northern Territory, I think, you just had
a record year, a record return, for the beef industry, and
after the difficulties of the last five or six years in the
beef industry, that is certainly something to look forward to.
A large part of our trade
efforts in the Multilateral Trade Negotiations that Doug Anthony
and Vic Garland and myself have been involved in, have been
designed to secure markets overseas for Australia' s major
rural commodities. The arrangements with Japan, with the
United States, and even opening the door a little into the
European community which people originally said wasn't possible.
/ 14

-4
I think we can look forward to a greater sense of security
in a number of Australia's great rural industries there
are a few I have in mind, but particularly the beef industry
with a greater sense of security than we've known for a
very long while. These numbers have filled out about
million or more in the United States, they are low in
Australia overall, compared to past times. Quite apart
from Japan, the United States, and Europe, there is also
an emerging market coming in other places Korea for
example which I believe gives us reason for confidence
in particularly the beef industry. That is clearly of immense
importance to the Northern Territory.
But when there have been difficult circumstances, inflationary
pressures which are caused by oil or whatever else, we don't
sit back and say something-has happened because something
has happened overseas and wring our hands and say there is
nothing to be done about it. But they are facts of life.
They have to be faced. They are facts of life that
governments have to respond to.
You might have heard of the mini-budget in May. John Howard
didn't like it very much. I didn't like it very much,
I understand one or two other people around Australia
didn't like it all that much. But in view of what had occurred,
it was'necessary. I think people can now understand that
it was. We've had a more recent Budget that's been able to
build on the achievements of the past three or four years
and look ahead again with great confidence.
But if we are going to have that kind of success, we've
got to keep control of Government spending. That's a
continuing story. It is never won. We've got to have wage
moderation and that is a continuing story.
Look at the irresponsibility of the ACTU. The irresponsiblity
of the Adelaide Conference where the sky would be limit and
back to the days when wages went up by 38% in one year in
March 1975. Was it any wonder the Federal Government was in
trouble, any wonder that Australia was in trouble, in those
circumstances. We have provided incentives to investment in manufacturing
industries, in mining industries, in oil search and development
and also in the rural industries. We have provided support
for our exports and better access to market than we had before.
As a result of this, I think that there is a greater sense
of confidence throughout the major sectors of Australia
than there has ever been.
Speaking with Paul, and others here, in the little while I
have been here, it is easy to see and feel that sense of
confidence in the Territory and Darwin as you plan your
own future.

There is never the time for looking ahead, but very
briefly, we need to keep in mind the policies of the
Australian Labor Party. Their policies have been updated.
There was an Adelaide Conference. They have had an
alternative Budget, and we need to remind ourselves that
it is the same old Party, it is the same old policies, that
would kill investment and stop development. We shouldn't
doubt that they can stop development, and we shouldn't
development and investment they did it once before
Amore effectively than anyone would have thought. We shouldn't
doubt their capacity to do it again.
The sky would be the limit on wages. Shortly before an
election in South Australia which he might regret having
called Mr. Corcoran supported a $ 40 a week increase in
the metal trade. I don't know if he thought it would win
him votes or not, but it would certainly destroy the metal
trade industry to have a wage claim of that kind.
You don't have to take my word for it. Because Bob Hawke
said the wages policy at Adelaide was a gutless sell-out to
the Left; as he described Bill Hayden. That leaves
Labor with that great moderate in Victoria, Bill Hartley,
to let the true story out. Jim Roulston of the AMSWU
that thoroughly moderate union has become a principal
economic adviser to Bill Hayden. And as Jin Roulston has
just had a very successful vote in the ACTU Executive,
Is it any wonder there is no economic policy and no
wages policy if the Labor Party is asking for the view
of the AMSWU.
The Budget we've introduced builds on past achievements;
maintains control of expenditure. * There are considerably
increased sumas for defence, and increased funds for some
* areas of social welfare.
When * we are told we don't cut back enough in that area,
I think we need to remember that ten years ago there were
179 pensioners to every 1,000 people in the workforce. Today,
that grown to over 280 for every 1,000 people in the* korkforce.
Is it any wonder that social security costs more than it did.
The Budget has enabled advances defence and social welfare.
It has led to reductions in taxation; led to very considerable
reductions in our own deficit, and that I think, above all, is
the fact that it has led to a great growth of confidence
in the weeks since the Budget because people know that this
economy is moving forward in a sensible and sound manner and
is one that is thoroughly under control and very much on track.
Getting that deficit down, we can get amused by the words and
the rhetoric I suppose. But it is important, and just as
important as if a household spends too much more than its
income. The breadwinner gets a bit annoyed and a bit worried
I suppose, because if it goes on too long you get bankrupt
and you get into * debt and maybe lose your house. That had
been what has been had been happening to Australia. But it takes
a while to work it off and get rid of it and to get rid of
past debts. / 6

-6
I think that is happening and we are looking forward to
continuing success in that area.
Because uranium is so important to the Territory, let me
just say a word about it. In 1976 I think some people
uranium would never be mined, never be exported. There were
enormous difficulties. There was a Royal Commission Report.
How could all the different considerations
be properly balanced: National parks, the environment,
Aboriginal interests were very legitimate, then the natural
problems with uranium trade, safeguards, bilateral agreements,
and all the rest.
What seemed to be formidable
problems, formidable roadblocks, have been overcome
and the mining is now proceeding very much to the
advantage of Australia.
We are looking now to the feasibility of establishing
a commercial uranium enrichment industry. Consultations
have been taking place with overseas countries, including the
States, with leading Australian concerns. It is a long-term
project, which could involved $ 1,000 million investment.
It would involve a great number of jobs. But there is much
yet to be decided the basis of the technology, the
partners we would have, where the enrichment plan ought
to go.
the attitude of a Government in a State or a Territory
will obviously be a material factor in determining the location.
That would seem to rule out South Australia. I think
I've got to say that Charles Court and Joh Bjelka Petersen are
also in the race. At least here I know what vou want.-
We've now negotiated safeguards agreements with a number
of countries overseas with the United Kingdom, which is
important because it is the first member of the European
Community. We are hopeful we will be negotiating with
EURATUM soon and there is a good future on all the estimates
for export in that trade.
You might have noticed at a meeting in Melbourne that
the ACTU Congress has been mildly irresponsible. Their
former Executive said " yes" , mining and export could go on.
Mr. Hawke said yes. The Congress has said The Labor
Party has said But it is worth noting that Mr. Hawke
said we had done everything that could be done in relation
to safeguards and non-proliferation, and he thinks that we
shouldn't hold up the export of uranium if the workers and
people in government of other countries have made a decision
that they uranium as power for peaceful purposes. This was
one of those occasions I am prepared to say that I think
Bob Hawke is right. The attitude of the Labor Party and
of the ACTU Congress will be one of the things that will keep
the Labor Party in opposition for a very long while.

-7-
We can look to the 1980s with enormous confidence.
I believe we can look to the future of the Territory
with great confidence in your own hands and working
in partnership with the Federal Government. In Australia
we have, I think, people with as much capacity and as
much initiative or more, than people in any other country.
Sometimes we tend to knock ourselves a bit too much say
things from overseas are better than they are in Australia.
I don't believe that is true. I think we can produce with
the best. We can be up with the best and better than the
best overseas. There is a great sense of pride in Darwin
and a great sense of pride in the Northern Territory.
If that could be exhibited to a greater extent right around
Australia, then I think this would be a greater country,
and a better one, and one where people could have a pride
in Australia's achievements. I think a little more of that
and a little less of the knocking would make Australia
move forward more quickly, more confidently.
One of the things over the last three or four years people
overseas have been voting with their dollars and their pounds
and their hearts and all the rest in confidence in the
future of Australia. There have been one or two occasions
when I have thought that they have had more confidence in
the future of Australia than one or two people in this country.
I think it is time that we put that aside, knew where we
were going and marched ahead in partnership Territory and
the Commonwealth, State and the Commonwealth and made quite
sure that we guaranteed the future this nation deserves.
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Transcript 5140