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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 8475


Photo of Keating, Paul

Keating, Paul

Period of Service: 20/12/1991 to 11/03/1996

More information about Keating, Paul on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 21/03/1992

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 8475

TEL: 24. Mar. 92 19: 38 NO. Ui0 r-ui'v7
Comrades, delegates, thank you very much for that warm round
of applause and reception, Paul ( Slape) Victorian Party
President thank you for your kind words, Joan the leader
of the Labor Party and Premier of Victoria, our candidate
Sill Kardaitsis and his wife Haroula, Jenny State
Secretary and friends one and all.
Well these are challenging times and it's nice to be amongst
friends, and I haven't always been amongst friends this
week. But in engaging times like these one needs to know
where one is;. We need to know where we are and what we are
and where we're going. We have to have a very good fix on
what our political policy and strategy is because parties
lose their way and many parties in the past have. But
fortunately that has not happened to us. Not in recent
times. But you might have heard me say that we've been working in
this century between two competing ideas in politics. One
has been that private reward and private initiative was the
main spring of all endeavour and human progress, and on the
other hand, state socialism and government intervention was
the way forward. We have seen these philosophies, Adam
Smith on the one hand, Marx on the other and various shades
in between become the polarity of public life in the
twentieth century, the tug and pull from the poles of those
two competin~ g ideas.
We saw it in the United States with conservatives like
Calvin Coolidge, articulating the policies of reward for the
wealthy and the owing to the reaction against it in the
depression, to the need for governmlent involvement which
came with Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. And we saw the
swing back t~ o the years of Eisenhower, where again, we saw
the same conservative incantations ran out. And then the
swing back as Americans wanted better with Lyndon Johnson's
New Deal and, support for blacks. And then again back to the
years of greed is good, and that private initiative and

private reward is all that matters in the years of Ronald
Reagan. And we saw it in Britain, with Churchill after the
war and the swing to the government of Clement Attlee, where
government involvement and government initiative was
regarded as being important. And then the swing back to the
dry radicalism of Margaret Thatcher where basically again
the strong prospered and the weak were left in their wake.
We came to office in 1983 against that tide. When we came
to office the political tide was away from government
intervention, government involvement, government engaging
problems in society and the economy. Blut we stood against
that tide, against the tide of Reaganism and Thatcherism,
which was then the international trend. We stood up against
it and we pulled the pendulum back. We dragged the pendulum
back, not to state socialism which we knew was not working,
never worked, and wouldn't work, or to massive central
planning, but to a peculiarly and proud Australian policy.
one that-you would expect from the oldest Labor Party in the
world able to make its own policy and not be caught up in
the fashion of these two competing political ideas.
And we camne up with a policy which was about opening
Australia up, about economic restructuring, of letting
markets have A role in the country, keeping a focus on
efficiency, but at the same time looking at the needs of
people, trying to fashion a social wage which made the lot
of Australians better.
So Labor in the 1980s had a growth model. When I used to
stand up as the Finance minister or the Treasurer at the
OECD and say we have an employment objective, a specific
employment objective, people would look at you as if you had
a sort of case of rabies or something, and they would say
they thought there was something wrong with you. Because
then, employment for those people, for those countries,
employmnent: was the residual, it's the thing that dropped out
the bottom~ f. And if what dropped out was 10 per cent
unemployment or 15 per cent unemployment, so be it. That
was the price, they said, of giving the wealthy t~ heir go, of
letting the goers go and leaving the other people in their
wake. Now, of course, we had big objectives, we had to come out of
a recession, we had to bring Australia back up, we had to
restart investment, we had to get employment going, we had
to overcome inflation and put a suture on our debt. But we
did all of that within a growth model, in partnership with
the trade unions under the Accord. In other words, Labor
included people in. We brought in the unions, which have
always been a strength of Labor and said let'-s to this
together, let's devise a policy which is Australian, which
deals With Australian problems which does not see us as a
government: with a slosh of the pendulum from one side to the
other, being drawn around by these international trends.
Let's decide our policy and let's do it our way to make
things better for Australians work, but with reform. That
is, a role for government but without suffocating

. a L4-' 1 k V
creativity, without suffocating the role of the sensible
operationa of the market and with a focus on the things we
knew it had to be on economic efficiency, getting
companies going again, restructuring our old industrial
structure, turning our industrial museum back into a modern,
sophisticated industrial society and getting on with it.
We never accepted the Thatcher view that employment was a
residual, that if the rich got their go what would fall from
the table the crumbs would go to the working anid middle
classes. We never accepted that view. Nor did we accept
the market puritanical view of the New Zealand Labor Party,
of Lange and Roger Douglas. We wouldn't cop them either and
Paul is quite right to make the reference to New Zealand.*
They've basically disseminated a generation over there. In
fact, we had'more growth in the Australian economy in the
1980s than there is total GDP in New Zealand. We had
actually more growth here than there is total product in the
New Zealand economy.
We in fact absorbed Thatcherism and Reaganism, took it in
our stride, used those precepts about markets and efficiency
as we warited to use them in the Labor way, in the Labor
context in the Labor model and followed a Labor policy and
talked to our fellows in the trade unions, our friends in
the trade. unions as the New Zealand Labor Party didn't, and
as the British Labor Party couldn't.
And that's what made us different.
in the 180s we freed up savings for investment, but we
developed this enormous social wage which started caring
about things like:
Health -with Medicare the right to health insurance
whether you were sick, sore or sorry, rich or poor,
single or with a large family, you had health
protection under us. That was an important part of the
social wage.
Women's issues which we promoted strongly all the way
from the 1980s, whether they be equal opportunity, or
affirmative action or access to superannuation, or what
have you.
Pensioners and lifting up the unemployment rate, which
had fallen in real terms under Fraser, as had the age
pensiLon, which we improved dramatically through the
Income support for the low paid with a family
allowance supplement directed to low paid, low income
famil~ ies, or support to families generally with a
family allowance.
Increased retention rates in school because we knew
that not only was it unfair to our children not to give
them the opportunity to complete secondary school but

we would never make it as an advanced country while
ever we took the view that 3 kids in 10 completing
secondary school was good enough. It is now 7 in
and wo then created the equivalent of a dozen
universities to take them as they left the secondary
systemi. And now of course, we're pulling TAFE up
behind it.
Aged care where we're the first government to develop
a comprehensive policy towards the aged. That is from
geriatric assessment, through to home and community
care, through to the hostel program, right through.
Child care giving women the opportunity to go to
work, and giving those who are at home relief with
occasional day care in the course of the day or week.
Superannuation giving Australian workers a chance to
have a standard of living in retirement greater than
that than can be provided by the Commonwealth through
the age pension. Building on the age pension, but
something better, and at the same time develop a pool
of savings for the nation to employ in terms of its
capital re~ tructuring.
We made in fact, a smaller public sector, a better
public sector, by focussing the need, and of course
smaller as a per cent of GDP but with large increases
in spending where it needed to be.
So that was our ' 80s model. We rejected all these
international fashions, we rejected the half hearted view
from the Right. We took our policy, we still opened the
economy up., wellet the market forces take over in many
respects, that is through the exchange markets ae, but we
had a Labor stamp on it.
And now we've developed it further with ' One Nation'.
What ' OneNotion,' does is build on that experience. It sets
out a ole-ar f6le for the public sector beyond the social
wage and income support. It gives the public sector a
further role, a policy of engagement of national problems
not a policy of Withdrawal. Not the policy of withdrawal of
Professor Hewson who wants to tear everything out of the way
to let again the wealthy push their way through the economy,
but basically using and declaring that the public sector has
a role in shaping the fortunes of Australia, particularly in
a difficult period coming out of recession, making that
recovery faster, providing the stimulus we need, getting the
focus back on employment and jobs and recovery, and doing it
in a way which again has Labor leaving its mark and its
stamp on Australia, using the public sector to declare
change in the country, things which only the public sector
can do. Like for instance, rebuilding our national rail
network because we know no-one else is going to build it, no
private company is going to rebuild the Sydney-Melbourne
railway line, no private company is going to standardise the
j j I u u. Lu r ud4/ v

gauge from Melbourne to Adelaide, no private company is
going to tie the ports together. It has to be done by the
government, by the public sector. It's not going to be done
as proposed in the Liberal program of withdrawing money
from the rail system, but rather injecting money into it.
To bring u. p, to give us again a choice in transport.
Because wis know we can't carry bulk commodities on our
roads, we know that we can't continually grow in the economy
with road transport alone which is breaking up our highways
and causing congestion and road accidents and the rest on
our roads. We know, as a modern country with vast
differences between our cities, we must have a rail system
and only the public sector can provide it.
' One Nation' makes that declaration, as It does about roads.
Building ring roads around the capital cities, supporting
the states, supporting the Victorian Government in a ring
road around Melbourne and around Sydney and Brisbane and in
the other capitals. Building national highways.
making a decision about our children, again, with technical
and further education. We're not saying leave them out to
make their own way, as Professor Hewson recommends that
people take opportunities in tertiary education by paying
full fees, $ 12,000 a year, so if their parents can afford a
pre-tax income of $ 25,000 to pay for $ 12,000 after tax or
thereabouts, which for most two income families is half
their income to send one child to university that's what
they think is freedom to achieve. They're not interested in
those hundreds of thousands of other people, children, kids
who can't find a place in university, for academic or other
reasons, but who need to be trained, who want to be trained.
Bill ( Kardamitsis) and I went through TAFE a couple of days
ago in the electorate of Wills, just seeing what people are
doing, with very important courses which let them into the
workforce like English literacy, expression, basic computer
literacy, advanced computer literacy, graphic design,
programs to care for the aged, administration for aged care,
administration for child care. All these sorts of things,
and of course the trade courses which can be such an
important part of not only providing employment opportunity
but making Australia a better, more clever, more capable
place. The Government must do it, not by withdrawing but by
engaging ii: which is what ' One Nation' is doing.
As we are assisting big projects with a development
allowance. We're supporting the private sector to go and do
it, but we're doing it in a way which we think maximises
advantages to Australia. Establishing development bonds so
we can see private provision of public infrastructure
nothing wrong with it, nothing wrong with seeing a private
company in transport infrastructure, say the fast transit
line from Tullamerine to Melbourne, no problem it is a
private com~ pany. No problem if we see the electricity
industry of this country change the private provision of
public infrastructure. The main thing is that the services
are there. And setting up pool development funds for
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equity, for the small and medium businesses that just can't
get any support with equity. We're in there doing that.
So ' One Nation' is about those things but it's also about
making markets work sensibly for the nation. It's Labor
deciding that certain markets should work better and looking
at areas of market failure and it's again an ascertain, a
declaration that the public sector has a role in further
designing Labor's grander redesign of Australian capitalism,
which we've undertaken from 1983 onwards. In such things as
the aviation market, we think it is important to create a
market, to. provide services, to get away from a two airline
policy with fares so expensive that an Australian worker
can't fly from Melbourne to Perth, or Melbourne to Sydney
and return, to create a market which serves Australians well
with cheaper fares and destinations outside of Australia.
A national market for electricity with an interstate grid,
so that businesses that need cheap power can get it, because
this country has got a coal seam all down the east coast of
Australia. If there is no other thing we can do well it's
provide cheap electricity. But we're not getting it always
were we need it, in the companies that can be competitive
with cheaper power, and we're creating a market to let that
happen. The most general creation of a market, a more flexible
labour market which is coming now again under the Accord
with enterprise bargaining, where we're seeing a market
exist in the thousands of enterprises across Australia which
was formerly never operating as a market. International
competitiveness, preserving our low inflation rate.
Inflation w~ hich has ripped Australian workers savings to
pieces and put heavy mortgages on peoples backs and made t; he
country uncompetitive. We're basically in there protecting
and pinning that low inflation rate. We're enhancing bank
competition by again bringing more emphasis to banking
system and trying to make the banking system work better.
In other words, ' One Nation' is about making markets work
sensibly. It's not about deciding, as was the case in those
polls I mentioned earlier, of trying to set up state
socialism or government planning but sensibly letting the
creative elements of people and organisations work, but with
Labor, the government, the public sector leaving its stamp
upon it. And that's what ' One Nation' is about.
it's a poliLcy of inclusion, of bringing people together, as
I've said, lowering the drawbridge, letting people in, to
participate, to become more cohesive. And the concept
encompassesJ the Accord where Australia's workers are part of
the process, part of the conversation of government with a
Labor gover7nment. The consultation with business who are
part of the consultation, the inclusion, under ' One Nation'.
The partnerships for progress between government and
business, government and unions, business and unions, the
Comnmonwealt~ h and the States, political government and the
public service. Bringing people together with common goals

a& Policy Of inclusion with the drawbridge down, not the
drawbridge uip. ' With the elite sitting inside with the Power
and the money looking at the others outside that is flot
our model. Our model is the drawbridge down and the people
-in as part of it, Common goals, working together, making
Australia better.
The only way we can prosper as a nation is working this way.
Having respect for our Institutions, the arts, the public
institutionil like the public service, our central bank with
its balanced objectives of employment and development
against inflation and price stability. All in the sense of
civilised design in the central bank act ought to have the
respect of t: he political system. Or the public service
which carries out the functions of government. Or as I say
those other institutions. The policy of inclusion goes to
those institutions.
And it is about having a national identity. About
understanding that we are able to make our own way, that we
are Australians and we're whole hearted about it and the
policy is ark Australian policy. It's not an American policy
or a British policy, it's not like Professor Hewson's who is
borrowing from the late ' 70s of Margaret Thatcher. It's not
like Labor In New Zealand. It's ours. It's Australian
Labor, it's Aust ralian and it's ours. It's ours because
we're clear about our national identity and we are not half
hearted about it and we're not hesitating about it, we're
declaring it end we're going for it, and we're moving with
direction and purpose in doing it.
go as one nation we are pooling these things for recovery in
jobs, 800,000 jobs we expect over the next 4 years by
government involvement and infrastructure, making markets
work, partnerships f or progress between government and
business, busines's and unions, bringing institutions
together and having an identity, being clear about who we
are and therefore having the confidence to push our policies
and nation forward. In other words we're about, basically,
building on the successes of the 1980s in this way.
Now comrades, I ask you to contrast this with the Liberal
Party, now a party of primitives. A party of primitives,
the throw-backs to the 19th Century robber-baron capitalism,
the Adam Smiths and those who believe that what we should do
is make way for the wealthy because in their slip stream the
rest will pick up something on the way through. Survival of
the fittest if you're not a millionaire there is something
wrong with you and therefore those who have got money
should, be given the opportunity to make their way best.
it's called in Liberal parlance, ' freedom to achieve'.
Justice and opportunities for the wealthy. I notice the
opposition spokesman on education, Mr Kemp, last week
complaining about lack of opportunity for the wealthy. No
role for government, they want government out. Now this is
the party that offers itself as the next government of
Australia. It wants no role for government, it distrusts

the bureaucracy. In the last week the Deputy leader said
they'll ' knee-cap the public service. It distrusts the
central bank who it says doesn't properly focus on the twin
objectives under its acts of employment and price stability,
it's politicised they said by the Government. It distrusts
the Australian taxi office and wishes to compromise its
Commissioner with a board from the accountancy profession,
the same accountancy professors who are now funding the
Fightbacc research centre, the GST research centre, the
major accountancy firms who would send a representative on a
cord to manage the tax office.
And, of course, business is distrusted. They've been
described as bludgers coming for handouts from the
Government. Dr Hewson attacked them again last week. lie
said the saddest thing about them is they turned up and
asked the Government for favours. So these are the people
who want to run us, these primitives. No role for
government, don't trust the bureaucracy, don't trust the
central bank, don't trust the Tax office, don't trust our
institutions, don't trust business. And what the want to
give us as part of their philosophy? Well they want to
lower the drawbridge and run out with the GST and levy it on
everyone's food and clothing and then run back in. That's
their idea of inclusion, that's their idea of cohesion,
that's their idea of making Australia one nation. Go and
put a flat tax on everybody regardless of income, don't
compensate them, let the wealthy get the big break, clean
away all of the other impediments to profitability and then
maybe the rest of them will pick up something on the way.
And when Mr Reith was asked about his inflation forecast of
o to 2 par cent, meaning as it must higher interest rates,
he denied the journalist the words he had given her, not
having the courage to face the consequences of their own
policy, 1: heit own policy meaning higher interest rates and
higher unemployment, all in the manic determination to
simply ideologically serve this rhetoric about Inflation.
A barren, sterile, ancient view of managing a modern
society. The selfish, nark view of the world. The nark
view of the world, the drawbridge up, the wealthy inside,
the government withdrawing from the social equation. That's
their policy. Their fundamentally different from us, but
they always have been. We imagine Australia's future,
determined by imagination, opportunity, inclusion,
togetherness, co-operation, cohesion, pride. They imagine
it determined by cost accounting and privilege. That's
them. Now Professor Hewson is totally limited in his thinking.
Ideologically hamstrung, ideologically divisive, politically
barren, ak cold fish washed ashore by the recession, but a
primitive species we have seen before. And we've Seen it
right through this period whether it's Thatcher, or whether
it's Reacran or Coolidge or any of the others, we've seen
these peo) ple before. We've seen their barren ideology

Australia can't afford Professor Hewson or his party or his
policies. Look at their candidate in Wills who our
candidate Bill Kardamitsis is opposing, who says there ought
to be a 30 per cent cut in social security, who said that
pensions should be out and migrants should be driven back
home if they haven't got a job and if someone dare pay money
to the disabled in a sheltered work shop they should chop it
out. These are the sort of primitive views and wasn't it shocking
that that got into the public debate. I mean it was a real
incursion into privacy. Here is somebody running for public
office that's embarrassed by the fact that they actually
believe in cutting pensions and payments under the social
security system by one third, who believe pensioners ought
to be cut back and migrants sent home. Have the disabled
disadvantaged further by withdrawing the support that they
have already from the Government.
Dr fewson is always about saying that I create diversions.
We're saying as a big matter of news for the day that he was
going to the Privacy Commission about letters written by a
political ca ' ndidate or political person in office about
matters of public policy. What a hide they have. This is
revealing of them, very revealing of them. And in fact all
that's happen is that their candidates reveal the policies
they really have, because even though he wrote that in the
middle ' 80s it is still their view. They want to cut
billion out of Commonwealth outlays. They want to levy this
very heavy tax on Australians, they want to heavy this goods
and services tax on all food, clothing, services etc and
that's the limit of their creativity and ability.
Now on the other hand, we offer something better and
brighter. We offer breadth, as we always have, vision,
opportunity, we are as we've always been the builders. And
whether it be the rail network, or the highways, or the ring
roads, or the electricity grids, or the ports, o~ r the TAFE,
or the universities, or the Family Allowance Supplement, or
family a: llowance, or superannuation or Medicare, it is
always Labor doing the building. And we will be the
building. We are the reform party in this country. We're the creators
of the new concept. And we're the people holding our hand
out in friendship to workers, to business, to minorities, to
blacks and to anyone else that needs a hand. in friendship
and in expectation, and hope, hope for Australia, hope for
one nation, one proud nation, one independent nation.
Thank you very much.

Transcript 8475