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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 6291

TRANSCRIPOT OF PRESS CONFERENCE - SYDNEY 12 JANUARY 1984

Photo of Hawke, Robert

Hawke, Robert

Period of Service: 11/03/1983 to 20/12/1991

More information about Hawke, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 12/01/1984

Release Type: Press Conference

Transcript ID: 6291

E E& O E PROOF Otkb1. y
TRANSCRIPT OF PRESS CONFERENCE -SYDNEY 12 January 1984
PM4: W~ ell I'm sure that all Australians Will share my pleasure
at th labour force statistics for the last molith of 1983,
which confirm and strengthen the indications of strong
economnic recovery, particularly in the employment area, which
have ' been evident for some time now. Employment, of course
we're talking in seasonally adjusted terms, which is agreed
as what you have to do, employment increased by 32,000 in
December and that followed a rise of almost 45,000 in November
and in the event unemployment fell by 30,000 in December,
Which brings the unemployment rate down to 9.254 from the
9.6% in November. So, employment up very substantially,
unemployment down, the unemployment rate down. If we put that
into the period of this government it means that those
December figures show that 3ince April of 19831 there's teen an
increase of 159,000 jobs, or an average monthly increase in the
period1 of our government of about 20,000, shows that the promise
that I made to t-he people of Australia in the election campaign
at all points, is being more than fulfilled. I said that we'd
stop the explosion in unemployment, that has been dramatically
achieved. I said we would incrtse employment, that has been
dramatically achieved, about 159,000 new jobs. I indicated that
we had an objective of creating half a million new jobs in the
first 3 years of our government. Clearly we are well on track
to achieving that objective, arnd I believe that, as I say, all
Australians will velcome the fact that the Australian workforce
in ge-neral, and our young people in particular, are now coming
into 1984, into a much more optimistic economic scene than could
possibly have been imagined 12 months ago.
0: DD these figures give you any reason, Prime Minister, -to
revise upwards or downwards the projected decreases or increases
in unamployment and employment?
* TIM: Yes, you will recall that when we brought in the budget,
we were fairly cautious in our projections. We said then that
there would be an increase we thought; of about 90,000 jobs in
1983/ 84, well its quite clear that we are well above that figure
of 90,000. We're running at about 130,000 now in the financial
year so there's got to be a substantial upward revision in our
assessment of the improvement in the employment situation, and
there is no doubt that the assumptions that we made in drawing up
our budget as to the level of outlays, that there would be for
unemployment beneficiaries, will have to be revised downwards.
There'll be a considerable budget saving in that item.
Q: Hlow much do you attribute this success to your government's
own performance, or to your govern~ ment's luck, such as the
breaking of the drought and strengthening of the US e.-Onorny?
PM: There are factors for which we are obviously responsible,
others for which even in excessive enthusiasm, we can't claim
responsibility. You've mentioned two of them, the breaking of
the drought and the recovery in the United States economy, but

but the economic policies of this government have been largely
responsible for the improvement in confidencu, the decline in
industrial disputes. One very important sector of the economy
cf course, is the housing industry, which is regarded by all
economists as being of critical importance, not only in its
own right, but it permeates out of the manufacturing industry
and other areas. And its our policies in regard to housing
which have lifted the industry from the doldrums that we
inherited to the point where now, we are looking at the housing
industry operating fairly close to its capacity. So we have
a significant degree of responsibility and credit to be claimed
for the improvement. I acknowledge, obviously, the beneficial
effects as well, of the breaking of the drought and the overseas
recovery. Q: Given that you expect now the revenues to be greater, does
that mean that you'll be able to keep another of your election
promises, which is to reduce taxes?
PM: I've already said that my. objective is to do two things
basically in the next budget, and I make a qualification in a
moment, let me make it immediately, in that it won't be until
February/ March that we have mere detailed figures about
how the budget has been going and what the figures will be likely
to be turning out at, but with that qualification, we'll be
aiming to do two things, to have tax cuts, and to reduce the
budget deficit so that we will be in a position that as the
private sector recovers, as it is doing, the signs of it are
occurring now, there's been significant employment growth in
the private sector. As that happens, the private sector will be
tending to make more demands on the capital market, so we'll be
wanting to have less demands on the public sector, so we'll want
to bring the deficit back. Those will be twin objectives of the
budget. Q: Sir do you agree that figures like these today, create a more
favourable environment for an early election?
PK: Well its not a question of creating a favourable environment.
We haven't been about, from the day we got in, thinking about
the next election we've been about fulfilling the basic promise
that I made in the campaign of turning the Australian economy
around. Now manifestly we've achieved that. Now the position is
that we will want to have a situation for Australians that we
don't have a multiplicity of elections. There has to be a half-
Senate election sometime between the middle of this year and the
middle of next year. And if there were to be an election at the
end of this year, early next year, that would not be unusual.
That indeed, would be I think, the 22nd or the 23rd time at which
the Australian people had gone to elections with a House of
Representatives and half-Senate election. It would be unusual
not to do it. But none of our policies to this point or between now
and whenever the election is held, will be directed towards that end.
Q: So there will be no early election?
PM: I must be speaking a foreign language. I just said that if
we did have an election this year or early next year, that would
be the 22nd or 23rd time that that had occurred. That that would

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bei a normal th-ing to do.
Q Prime MLinister the latest word from Adelaide is that Premier
Ba~ nnon has suggested that you might like to keep your hands out
of politics in South Australia. Do you have any response to that
iYL respect to the possibility of payrises for MPs in Adelaide?
Pbl: That's surprising, because I've always found that John Bannon
wEanted me to have my hands in politics in South Australia. When
he was going for election last time hie couldn't have enough of
my hands in South Australian politics.
Q: Is there anything else you might be able to do to convince
the South Australian and Tasmanian parliamentarians to accept a
lower increase?
P1: Well the constitutional facts are that the federal government
does not have control over state governments, nor should it under
our constitutional setup. All I've been wanting to convey to
all the State Premiers, John Bannon included, and Mr Gray, the
Liberal Premier in Tasmania, is that they as States have a vested
irnterest in the Australian economy operating at its highest growth
le-vels. Now we're going to do that the more that we keep the
accord in place and have wage claims by the trade union movement
kept in line with economic capacity. So they shouldn't regard
th~ e holding and the tight holding of the accord as something which
is irrelevant to them. it is very very relevant, and quite clearly,
others in the workforce are going to look at parliamentarians if
they perceive that parliamentarians are operating differently
to them. And that's not going to be gocd for the accord. The accorC
is not in any danger, despite the hopes of some people that it
might crumble. But it does give ammunition to people. Now let me
maka this clear, as I have to Mr Bannon. We are not saying that
there may not be a case for a significant increase for them.
Ncr are the ACTJ saying that. What they are saying is that they
should follow the same processes as the -trade union movement is
required, that is, the 4.3 percent national increase is there to
be taken as an interim increase. And if they think they have
special circumstances, then they should ask their tribunal to
operate according to the same principles of determination as does
the Commnonwealth Commission. And indeed I would believe that the
ACTUI if the South Australian government would * pursue that course,
would be prepared to even make submissions to such a tribunal, that
there is a case for increases beyond the 4.3 percent. Now I believe
that the State governments, all of them, should understand the
inportance, from their own self-interest, in pursuing that course
of action.
0: Could this reflect on them at the Premiers' Conference?
PM~: Well if they are going to undertake expenditures according
to processes which are different to what the rest of the workforce
follows, its something that I think would be raised.
0: Is that a threat?

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PM: No Of Course that's not a threat. Tts an answer to a
question. No, no, quite spriousl~ die amounts of money involved
are in the sum total of what we're talking about at Premiers
Cc-nferences are miniscule. I mean the amount of money that
will be involved in paying the increases a:: e relatively miniscule.
Vit its a question of the influence they can have on the
attitude of others. And I think that's important.
Can we take it from your earlier comments about early elections
and so on, that an early election is far more likely than not?
P11: No, I'm not getting into this question of speculation.
I simply refer you to the fact that we were planning to have
a referendum and on terms and conditions that were made quite
clear. our intentions on that which dealt with the issue of
simultaneous elections. That intention uas deliberately frustrated
by the Senate. Now during this year, we will have to look at
the fact that those referendums can't be held and we ill have
to look at the historical fact that the normal thing is for a
half-Senate and House of Representatives election to be held
together. That's much more the norral course of events. And
I would tend to believe, without having made any commitment in
this respect of all, I would tend to believe that the people of
Australia, knowing that there's going to be a half-Senate election,
there must be, under the Constitution, be a half-Senate election,
sometime in the second half oZ this year or the early part of
nex~ t year, that they would prefer, I would think, to not have
two elections they'd rather have one the House of Representativ. es
and the half-Senate together. But we'll think about this as we
go along. But if we do make that decision, it will be one which
is totally in accord with the normal historical practice in this
country. 0: is there any possibility that you might put the referendum
legislation back to the Senate for another go before then.
PM: Oh they've had full opportunity to consider this, and they
have decided to reject it. I wouldn't imagine we'd be going back
to -them.
Q: !? rime Minister, Mr Sinclair has reacted angrily to statements
you made this morning. How do you react to those.
PM: Oh well I regard it as a little bit strange that the man who
has the reputation for being the biggest head-kicker of them all
responds so volubly to some calm, en passant observations that
I made. it seems to have upset him very seriously. He must be
wondering whether he's got the numbers for this election he's got
coming up next week.
Q: Would you regard him as a threat in the future?
PM: No.
Q: When do you think would be an appropriate time for Mick Young's
re-entry into the Cabinet?

PM: Oh well I would think we'll looking at that we've got
to-wait until the ballot closes, I d~ on't think that's closed
yet has it it's the end of this week, about the 20th, something
like that. I don't imagine there'll be any other nominations.
If there are not, then I would think it would make sense to have
him back in well before the parliament resumes so that he can be
qettinq across his portfolio. I would think, I haven't made a
firm decision on this, but I would think about the end of this
mronth. 0: Do you have a portfolio in mind for him?
PM: Yes I have, but I think the appropriate time
Care to share it with me?
PMH; No, Mangos. J, no. Not at this stage.
Q: Mr Hawke, tir Keating seems fairly confident that Zoreign
banks will be granted licences, banking licences, after the
Martin report, do you share that confidence?>
PM: Well I read Paul's.. the report of Paul's pleasant
conversation with Mr Howard, and I think he indicated that this
was a matter to be discussed within the Party. It will be
and we'll await the outcome o~ f that discussion.
Would you support the entry of foreign banks?
PI: I'll indicate in the Party discussions what my view is.
Do you think there's a need for more competition within the
baLnking sector?
PbM; Well I understand that there's a belief that competition
is. a good thing, and I wouldn't have though,., Just looking at the
history of Australian economics and politics that the Labor
Party was greatly indebted to the existing private banks, I think
if you look back to the Labor Governmrentsof Scullin, Chifley,
and Whitlam, that the private banks weren't entirely unassociated
with the demise of those governments. So T don't think that any
of ray colleagues in the Labor Party should feel any great
philosophical or idealogical commitment to maintaining the
secured position of those particular banks. I mean I would find
it surprising if any of my colleagues are coming into the Caucus
with a great brief for those banks.
Q: What are your immediate priorities now when you go back to
Canberra? is there any prospect of having another economic summit?
witbin the npyt tw~ lve months.
PM: Oh no, I don't think within. the next? ( Twelve months.)
No I haven't thought it necessary to think about another economic
summit of that dimension. You will appreciate that we passed
legislation to establish the economic planning advisory council,
which continues in a ,, ense as a microcosm of the Summait, and I

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and my Ministers are in continuous consultation with the
bus~ iness community and with the trade unions and with relevant
organisations in the community. Now if there was a view, as
19i14 went on, that somefsay lesser, dimension of meeting than
the~ Swirit of April last year, would be useful, then we would
be well disposed to it, but I haven't got. any current plans in
that regard.
Q: Is Mr Sinclair a threat to Mr Peacock?
PM: Well I guess you'd have to ask Mr Peacock, but it's not
really a battle of the titans, is it?

Transcript 6291