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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 5867


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: 18/07/1982

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 5867

1,, A US RA LtA
it is a great pleasure for me to be in Queensland again.
This state has made an enormous contribution to.
Australia and the Liberal Party has played a major part
in building this state up. Queensland is in the
forefront in many different fields.
SAs host of th e Commonwealth Games, Queenslanders have
made a tremendous effort to ensure that the Games will
be a success, and all Australians can be proud of
buildings such as this sports complex which will not
only contribute to the success of the Games but * will
improve the sporting facilities of the Brisbane area. I
am very much looking forward to being in Brisbane during
the Commonwealth Games. Queensland has also become a
growing cultural force in Australia. The impressive
youth orchestra, festival ' 82 and Brisbane's excellent
new cultural centre are examples of how this state is
earning a world-wide reputation in the arts.
But there is no doubt that Queensland is best known for
the contribut ion it has made to Australia's economic
development. On the latest three monthly figures, it
has the lowest: unemployment rate of any state in
Australia, it has the highest rate of employment growth,
and over 25% of all investment in Australia is committed
to Queensland. That record has been achieved by
encouraging private enterprise in a way which should be
an example to the rest of Australia by welcoming
investment, and by vigorously developing the state's
natural economic advantages.
The Queensland Government was the first Australian
Government to abolish probate duty, and that abolition
did a great deal to attract investment to this State
from the sout-i. In contrast, the Cain Labor Government
of Victoria is the first State to reintroduce probate
duty. Mr Cain's probate duty will be levied at a rate
of 39 cents in the dollar. Nobody in their right mind
will start a new business in Victoria. People who want
their businesses to grow,
will transfer them to Queensland or elsewhere and there
will be fewer jobs. Retired people will come to
Queensland in even greater numbers. There will be empty
houses all over the state, * the building industry will be
hard hit and with the exodus from Victoria, prices of homes
are bound to fall. / 2

In 1975, fol. lowing three years of Mr Whitlam's
Government, more people left Australia than arrived, the
only year s4. nce 1945 when this occurred. Mr Cain should
be congratu: lated he is going to achieve a net exodus
from Victoria in less than 3 years. Mr Cain's action is
a typical example of Labor damaging an economy in
pursuit of socialist dogma.
Today I would like to say something about economic
problems around the world, how they are affecting
Australia and the needless difficulties which are
sometimes created within our own community. And in the
light of the recent Labor Conference and the divisions
that racked the Labor Party last week, I also want to
say something about the dangers of a Labor Government,
and the effect socialism would have on Australia, and
how we as Liberals are best equipped to meet Australia's
economic challenges.
In recent years responsible economic policies have
brought considerable economic success to all
Australians, success which we had almost begun to take
for granted. For several years we have had a higher
growth rate than the 0. E. C. D. average, we have had a
lower inflation rate than the 0. E. C. D. average, our
unemployment rate, although too high, was below the
O. E. C. D. average in 1981, and employment grew by over
375,000 in the three years to the end of 1981. That was
a record Australians could be proud of but we must now
realise it will be a difficult record to retain.
World economic conditions have deteriorated in a way
no-one anticipated and with this continued
deterioration, Australian economic conditions have also
changed. Internationally, industrial production in the
March quarter has fallen or stagnated in six of the
seven major world economies, and the American motor
industry, to take an example, is only operating at half
its capacity. World trade has contracted for the first
time in 20 years last year, and real interest rates are
at historically high levels.
We have been told repeatedly that economic recovery will
come in six months. I suppose if you say that often
enough you are bound eventually to be right, but I will
believe it when I see it. While we wait for the
recovery we must understand that the world recession is
now hitting Australia hard. Australia is the 13th
largest industrial trading nation in the world and
therefore the decline in world trade, and the slump in
commodity prices was certain to have a very real impact
on our economy, including on the Queensland economy. / 3

Those who think we are immune from world conditions fall
to ' understand the nature of the Australian economy.
Between 1979/ 80 and 1981/ 82 copper prices have fallen
from $ 1955 to $ 1231 per tonne, iron and steel prices
from $ 211 to $ 163 per tonne, aluminium prices from $ 1410
to $ 1072 per tonne, beef prices from $ 2267 to S1609 per
tonne, wheat prices from $ 147 to $ 138 per tonne and
sugar price! s from $ 377 to S266 per tonne. Declining
export markets have also affected investment in
Australia. The growth in investment reached a 30 year record just a
year ago, but that growth has now virtually ceased.
And while investment still remains at a relatively high
level it has done so because a number of investment
projects have yet to reach completion. Substantial new
investment decisions are unlikely while world economic
conditions remain stagnant.
But it is not only world economic conditions which are
responsible for the current difficulties in the
Australian economy. We have not been helping ourselves
as well as we might have. Rising production costs in
Australia " nave pushed our inflation rate above the
O. E. C. D. average. In the 12 months to the end of March,
Australia': s inflation rate was two percentage points
above the D. E. C. D. average. A significant cause of all
this is we have been paying ourselves higher wages at a
time when our income as a nation has been falling and we
don't have to be economists to see the consequences of
that. While our export earnings have fallen,' real
average weekly earnings have risen over the last two
years by $ 22. The damage to our competitiveness caused
by high wage settlements has been compounded by much
more moderate wage settlements overseas, where 5% and 6%
increases have not been uncommon, compared to increases
of between 15% and 20% in Australia when shorter working
hours are taken into account.
Against this background of world recession and high
domestic wage settlements, it is not surprising that
activity levels are being reduced in Australia, that
employment growth has diminished, and that unemployment
is rising. In the face of these difficulties it is
essential that we maintain responsible and constructive
economic policies and that we do not allow the nation to
fall into the grip of a socialist Government.
The recent national conference of the ALP has reminded
us all of the dangers of a Labor Government, you only
have to look at their specific policies to see what they
would do t~ o Australia. Labour now has a new uranium
policy which a number of people are saying is more

moderate. How can they say that when the ALP leader,
Mr Hayden, said a week ago that any sugccestion that
Labor had abandoned its opposition to uranium mining was
a " travesty of the facts"? He added that Labor's
policy unEquivocally supports the objective of an end to
the uranium industry. For years Labor has wanted to
shut the uranium industry down. Nowhere does Labor's
policy say that existing contracts can be worked out.
Mr Hogg, who was responsible for amending Labor's
uranium policy has said that he does not think the
conditions laid down in the policy can be met by uranium
miners " arid that will be a problem for the miners, not
for the Government". If Labor had an opportunity to
shut the . ndustry down it would do it. Thousands of
jobs would be lost, and about $ 4 billion would be lost
in export revenue. That sort of economic
irrespons-''. ili-ty is so typical of the Labor party.
In the debate on the uranium industry the Deputy Premier
of NSW freely admitted that Labor's uranium policy and
its other economic policies would undermine
international confidence in Australia, he said that
Labor's policies would lose us our triple rating and
he boasted that they ought to. He wants socialism,
regardless of the cost.
You will have noticed the debate in the ALP on capital.
gains tax. The new policy commits Labor to the
strengthening of section 26( a) of the income amendment
act, whatever that may mean. Senator Evans, who drafted
the Labor policy, has given us an answer. He has a
secret draft of a re-written section 26( a). We are
entitled -to believe that will be a capital gains tax by
stealth. The ALP has clearly covered up its real policy
because it knows it will be unacceptable to the
As Queenslanders, you will be concerned to learn of
Labor's plan to introduce a resources tax. We are, not
told what that tax will be, and Mr Willis, the Shadow
Treasurer has said that the tax would be discussed with
business once they got into government. Those who
depend on the mining indus try for their livelihood, as
many Queen-slanders do, would certainly be taking a great
risk if they gave any support to the ALP with such a
policy. Labor claims its resources tax would be offset
by getting rid of state taxes on mining. Would anyone
seriously believe that your Treasurer Liew Edwards would
give up a state tax for the dubious pleasure of allowing
the introduction of a Commonwealth tax? What is certain
is that the mining industry would end up with both

At a time of economic downturn when the growth in
investment:-is stagnating, Labor's finance spokesman has
said that Labor would remove investment allowances, they
would take away the tax concessions for the film
industry, which has done so much for Australia's world
image, and they would abolish drought relief
measures, and they obviously want to abolish the
nitrogenous fertiliser and superphosphate subsidies.
Labor is committed to a prices and incomes policy and a
social wage, whatever that may mean. It is undefined, a
minefield of confusion, and key unionists have made it
plain they would only support the policy under
conditions which no responsible government could agree
to. So-called prices and incomes policies have been
tried aga-; and again in various countries since the
war. They have never worked because they do not address
the real causes of economic malaise.
These ar e just some examples of the socialism that Labor
would clearly impose on Australians. Labor is committed
to " the redistribution of income, wealth and economic
power", to increased public sector investment, to an
expansion of public enterprise, to an expanded
interventionist role by government. There is no
commitment: in any of this to private enterprise, no
belief in the importance of the individual because
socialism believes in neither, socialism has a
completely false view of what motivates people.
Australians don't want socialism and never have done.
But then the Labor . party has no faith in Australia, our
way of life, and our institutions. The Labor party
doesn't like our flag according to a resolution passed
at the last. national conference, yet that flag is a
symbol of national unity and countless Australians have
a passionate belief in it. Dr Evatt, a former Labor
leader, described the flag as " the most beautiful flag
in the world". Many people would share that view. The
Labor Party doesn't like the monarchy according to a
resolution passed at the conference before last. It is
committed to turning Australia into a republic.
The Labor party doesn't * like the constitution and wants
a new one for 1988. What could be more divisive than
that. The Labor Party doesn't like the Senate which it
would, in effect, emasculate. The Labor Party doesn't
like the states, it is committed to a centralist policy
which means more and more decisions would be made in
Canberra. Furthermore, the Labor Party is a party hopelessly split
into factions. Senator Gietzelt has compared the
current factionalism with that of the 1950' s which split

the ALP and it is the socialist left faction which is
predominart Mr Hayden owes hi~ s re-election to the
support of the left, to the support of Mr Halfpenny and
Mr Carmichael of the a union whose policies
would tear down the fabric of Australian society. No
leader has; been so obligated, so captive, so committed
to left wing groups. He will now owe them a great
debt and the narrowness of his victory means that to
remain there Mr Hayden cannot afford to make the left
unhappy. Liberalisri has a vastly different view of the way ahead
for Australia. It is vital for Australians to realise
more fully how important it is to work together. We
need to understand to a much greater extent that as
Australians we have complementary interests. That is
particularly true in industrial relations, where we must
take every opportunity to establish a more co-operative
climate. Some days ago a task force, which included
representatives of the the seagoing maritime
unions, and the Australian shipowners, signed a proposal
based on the Crawford Report into the Australian
shipping industry, designed to improve industrial
relations in the shipping industry, and to allow
Australian ships to compete on similar terms with flag
carriers of Australia's~ major trading partners. This
report, which will now be considered by the
Government, provides an example of what can be achieved
when unions, management and governments are willing to
co-operate, willing to work together.
The effects of disputes at Australian ports, in
particular our coal loading ports, is a lesson of what
can happen if we do not co-operate with one another. We
are not being seen as a reliable supplier of coal by the
Japanese and the South Koreans because our ports are so
often in a state of disruption. Now that is partly
because not enough has been invested in infrastructure.
But it is also because industrial relations have been so
bad. For the first time in many years, Queensland coal
industry employees accepted a wage package without
industrial action, and this is a hopeful sign of a
better industrial climate.
The problems of coal deliveries are very real to
Queenslariders although the problems in N. S. W. are
considerably worse. The Commonwealth Government is
working with the governments of Queensland and New South
Wales on the difficulties of the coal industry including
the probl. ems at ports. These problems are now too
serious t~ o start apportioning blame. We must sit down
together and find solutions.

The Trioartite Conference between the A. C. TAJ., C. A. T.,
and the Government a couple of weeks ago was another
' example of the co-operative spirit that is needed. All
parties at that conference recognised that we need to
work together because we have common interests. There
was a measure of agreement about the economic problems
facing Australia. A tripartite working party will try
to reach agreement on a common statement on the economy
to the wage case hearing in August. Clearly, with
resolve, the C. A. I. and the Government can
work togE-ther. This is only a start, but it is a basis
on which to help build a better industrial climate.
The Government itself is also well aware of the need to
pursue pcolicies which will help minimise the impact of
global rEcession on the Australian economy and to ensure
that whert the world economic recovery does come we are
in a position to take advantage of it. We must tailor
our specific policies to assist those who need help
most. We did this with the housing package, whose impact is
only now beginning to be felt. From this month, recent
first home buyers can claim up to $ 700 a year more
than $ 13 a week as a tax rebate to offset the cost of
interest on their home loans. And the new home deposit
assistance scheme is now operating, helping people belo~ w
a certain level of income to put together the deposit on
that important first home. There is a new tax rebate on
health fund contributions. To encourage people to
insure themselves, the Government will pay back almost a
third of the basic medical and/ or hospital contribution.
Through -policies and programs of this kind, the
Government is responding to the needs of the average
Australian, and doing so in a way which helps people to
take initiatives of their own and to improve their
circumstances for their own and their families'
benefits. Tomorrow I will be announcing the Government's response
to the major I. A. C reports on general reductions in
protection, export incentives, and budgetary assistance
to industrv. The decisions we have made are going to be
greatly important for all Australian industries.
Australia can also make its voice heard internationally.
Earlier this year the Government proposed a three point
t / 8

plan for regenerating world trade. The value of these
proposals has been widely recognised, and they will
receive closer examination at the G. A. T. T. Ministerial
Meeting later in the year. I believe that if countries
adopted these proposals together, they would provide a
real impetus for regenerating global growth, and
bringing down inflation. They could help enormously in
getting us back to the situation of the 1950' s and
1960' s when world trade was a major engine of economic
growth, years in which the volume of world trade
expanded at an annual rate of providing increased
employment, and leading to growth rates which could
double real incomes every 20 years or less.
It is these sorts of policies, not socialism, which will
help to build up living standards around the world, and
create a better future for our children.

Transcript 5867