PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 9942

SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P J KEATING, MP ALP CAMPAIGN LAUNCH MELBOURNE, 14 FEBRUARY 1996

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: 14/02/1996

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 9942

PRIME MINISTER
SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P J KEATING, MP
ALP CAMPAIGN LAUNCH
MELBOURNE, 14 FEBRUARY 1996
Three years ago I asked the people of Australia to entrust to Labor the most
important responsibility a government can have I asked Australians for a
mandate to create jobs, and help the unemployed.
To create jobs, I asked Australians to give Labor the task of creating
sustainable economic growth on which jobs depend.
To create jobs, I sought a mandate to make Australia stronger; to find our place
in Asia and the Pacific; to encourage the industries of the future; to massively
expand education and training: to increase our national savings.
I sought a mandate to protect our environment.
I asked Australians to entrust to Labor the guardianship of the social safety net.
I asked for a mandate to make the arrangements governing our workplaces
both more flexible and fair: a mandate to encourage more enterprise bargaining
while maintaining awards and the right of Australian workers to bargain
collectively. I asked that arrangements with the trade union movement be such as to ensure
low inflation and thus sustainable economic and employment growth; I asked
for more of the Accord.
I asked that Labor be entrusted to act upon the decision of the High Court of
Australia which recognised that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
had occupied this continent for thousands of years before Europeans came.
I asked that Australian women put their faith in us to make it easier to combine
work and families.
I asked Australians to trust us to maintain the principles of tolerance and
diversity on which the cohesion of modem Australia depends and on which it
is flourishing.
4824

I asked to be entrusted with the task of resisting that radical conservative
assault on our social values and our national aspirations which then went
under the name of Fightback, and presently goes under the various disguises
of John Howard.
Today I ask for a renewal of that mandate in every detail, including the last.
I ask for it on two grounds: for what we have done in the past three years, and
for what we must do in the next three.
The Australian people gave us that mandate in 1993 at a time when they might
easily have chosen to reject us. Australia was just emerging from recession.
There were a million people unemployed. Australians might easily have
chosen to punish the Labor Government and abandon Labor~ s social
democratic model for the conservative alternative.
lost Our responsibility was therefore all the greater when they chose not to. For the
) r a past three years we have governed in that knowledge.
ting And we have worked, I think, at least as hard as any government in our history
to repay that trust.
ace We aimed at 500,000 new jobs and we have delivered 714,000 500,000 of
M~ Y them in small business. We aimed at sustained and sustainable economic
growth and we are now benefiting from the longest period of sustained growth
in Australia's history. And with low inflation and rapidly growing exports into the
fastest growing region in the world, we can at last say with confidence Ohat the
growth is sustainable.
iet. We said we would find a place for Australia in Asia and the Pacific, and we
ces have surprised even ourselves by the progress we have made. The APEC
ing agenda now agreed will add another half million new jobs for Australians.
lain We said we would expand education and training to prepare young Australians
for the modern workforce and a world in which knowledge is a nation's most
ure important commodity and through Working Nation we are injecting $ 1.5 billion
ked into it.
With 2 million new jobs since 1983, employment growth under Labor has been
t Of virtually unrivalled in the world. The Department of Education and Training
) ple estimates that if we lift our skills and grow our information and service
industries if we keep to our present policies we can create another 2 million
jobs in the next 10 years.
ine Working Natiun deveaops skills which enaole people to compete for the new
jobs. Only Working Nation has the strategy and resources to do this. And only
3nd Labor is committed to Working Nation.
: h it ,1825

3
Working Nation does something else, of course it looks after unemployed
Australians. \ Ve :" ave introduced a Jot Com-act wihich, when fLuiy implemented. will mean
that any Australian who has been unemployed for 18 months or more will be
offered a job. We are personally case managing 377,000 Australians to help
them find their way into jobs, or training for jobs.
We have reduced the number of young unemployed by nearly 20 per cent. We
have reduced the total number of unemployed by 230,000.
94,000 young Australians are still looking for work, and the unemployed still
number more than 750,000, so there is no cause for self-congratulation.
But there is cause to be confident that we can reach our target of 5 per cent
unemployment by the turn of the century and the other target we have set
ourselves, of another 600,000 new jobs over the life of the current Accord.
And there is every reason to defend the policies and programs which are taking
us towards these objectives.
We have substantially increased our national savings, as we said we would.
The figure presently stands at $ 230 billion; under the new superannuation
measures it is anticipated to grow to one trillion by the year 2000 and
two trillion by 2020. f
It is worth considering Australias foreign debt in this context. Total fbreign
debt, of which 5 per cent is Commonwealth Government debt, stands at
$ 180 billion. The vast majority is private debt, and much of that is invested in
major national projects which will be of considerable long term value to
Australia.
At the same time as foreign debt has accumulated, so has our capacity to pay.
And now secured against the debt, and providing an alternative pool of capital
from which to barrow, are national savings already much bigger and growing
infinitely faster.
Our superannuation changes will increase national savings and the savings oft
all Australians; such that an Australian couple now in their mid 30s with
average earnings will receive, on their retirement, an income 75 per cent higher
than the age pension. c
We asked that we be entrusted with the care of the Australian environment, v
and we have taken that responsibility very seriously.
In 1996 our natural environment has a better future than it has had at any timeE
in the past 200 years. Perhaps most importantly, we are all beginning to see
that environmental values are not only consistent with economic success, but a
precondition of it.
4826

oyed Shoalwater Bay and Jervis Bay have joined the Franklin River and Kakadu and
the rainforests; of the wet tropics, and are now protected forever.
-nean ill be The Cape York Agreement has the potential to deliver the second largest
help World Heritage area in the world with the support of the communities in the
region.
We Landcare, which Labor started in 1989, has been given support to match the
great enthusiasm with which Australian farming communities have adopted it.
i still Major community participation programs like Save the Bush and Coastcare are
flourishing.
cent We have put aside six million hectares of forest for potential inclusion in a
3 set world class system of forest reserves.
Last month we delivered an environment statement which contained the
iking biggest commitment in our history for the protection of our land, its productive
capacity and its biodiversity. That environment statement takes the programs
we have conceived and nurtured over the past five to ten years to a new level.
ould. ation And the statement is fully funded. It is not contingent upon the sale of Telstra.
and We have delivered on the environment in the past and we will deliver in the
future and we wAil deliver policy, not political blackmail.
reign is at We said we would maintain and expand the social safety net and we have not
ed in least through Medicare, Australia's universal health care system.
ie to And with our new family health rebate, which will extend and strengthen
Medicare, Australian families will have more choice and greater security and
pay. assistance than ever before.
, pital
. wing We have made life for working women easier by establishing thousands more
child care places and paying a child care rebate through Medicare offices. We
introduced an $ 840 maternity allowance, and for parents who want to stay
gs of home with their children, a parenting allowance.
with
gher We asked for a mandate to preserve the principle that decent wages and
conditions based on the right of working men and women to bargain collectively
and openly in the workplace are the basic requirements of a fair society, and
nent, we have preserved that principle.
We have preserved the jurisdiction ol che Industrial Reiarior-s Cor" mission to
time act as the umpire to ensure fair agreements between firms and their workers.
see
but a 4827

We are transforming our workplaces. We are making them more flexible.
creative and productive in the last four years. labour productivity has been
more than twice that of New Zealand. which, has been touted by our ooponents
as a shining exzrnpie of the benefits o~ the syste cf; d' contrac* ts.
Labor will not shift the essential balance in the relationship between employers
and employees: we will make the relationship more flexible, we will make it
more productive, we will offer more choice, but we will not sacrifice a hundred
years of progress and leave Australian working men and women at the mercy
of a market free-for-all. F
We will not adopt the fantastic hypocrisy of modem conservatism whichr
preaches the values of families and communities, while conducting a direct
assault on them through reduced wages and conditions and job security.
We respect every legitimate right of employers, including the right to dismiss
employees, but not a right to unfairly dismiss them. We don't think we help r
young Australians by making it easier to sack them or their parents.
Three years ago Australians relied upon the Labor Government to maintain c
unswerving commitment to cultural and racial tolerance and to continue to
invest in the multicultural fabric of the nation. And we have done this. 1
We have invested in the cultural diversity of this country and we have
legislated to protect the victims of prejudice. We have not turned a blind eye to
racism and we will not compromise the principle of non-discriminatibn in C
immigration by erecting new barriers which discriminate against family reunion r
for our Non-English Speaking Background communities.
We introduced and passed legislation that ensured the right to sexual privacy
for all Australians. C
The mandate we sought to give legal expression to the Mabo judgement we
have fulfilled, and it gives me great pride to be able to say so. The long battle
to win the day has dramatically raised the level of understanding between black 1
and white Australians. We were brought together and we learned a lot. We
proved we could find solutions. r
There is still a long way to go before we can say that we have done what must
be done. But the will to do it is there. The next term of a Labor government wAil h
see an unprecedented effort to solve the distressing problems of Aboriginal fE
health and morale which are the continuing legacies of dispossession and
neglect. I. v I; f
Three years ago we promised to invest the arts with a new stature and k
direction, and with Creative Nation we made good our promise. g
4828

been an Australian republic, and that is what we have done. We appointed an expert
ients group and we set in motion a broad community debate.
In June last year we presented the Government's preferred model to the
) yers Australian parliament and people.
ike it
idred The Government never suggested that its model was the only one. We want to
iercy see the widest possible discussion and consultation. We have issued nonpartisan
educational materials to schools, libraries and community groups
across the country. We welcome and support the Australia Consults program
vhich recently launched by the National Australia Day Council.
firect We believe that Australia's head of state should be one of us. We believe that
an Australian head of state should welcome in the new century, should open
miss the Olympic Games in the year 2000, should represent us abroad in this
help nation's second century.
If re-elected we will ask the Australian people what they think about the
, itain question: do you want an Australian to be Australia's head of state?
e to The Government will conduct a plebiscite a non-binding popular vote within
twelve months of the first sitting of the new parliament.
have ye to If the plebiscite is carried, the Government will then propose that a Joint Select
) n in Committee, representative of both Houses of the Parliament, be appointed to
inion make recommendations for a constitutional amendment to be put to the people
at a referendum.
vacy The joint committee would be established in such a way that neither the
Government nor the Opposition would possess a majority. It would conduct
extensive consultations with the states and the community and would consider
twe submissions.
attle
) lack~ To succeed, the constitutional amendment necessary to create the republic
We would need to be carried at the referendum by a majority of electors and in a
majority of states.
must The question of the republic has been one of several controversial issues we
t Will have confronted in recent times. But we believe that not to confront them is a a
ginal failure of our duty to lead the nation conscientiously.
and We are very much aware that the great progress we have made in the last
three years the unprecedented econimic groWn',. th; lovv inflatic-tfh? Ic,' st
and level of strikes since 1940, the huge growth in joos, ie growth ir 3x; p'. rts and
productivity has not translated automatically into material benefits, or a
greater sense of security among many Australians. 4829

But that is not an argument for throwing out the policies which have given us
strikingly good results. It is an argument for listening harder and doing better.
It is : nErefore not arcurnent ' C . n cc e
They have opposed us at every step.
Never has there been a more negative Opposition; or, since John Hewson's
departure, an Opposition less willing to honestly state what it believes in.
Never, I believe, has there been an Opposition so weak on policy and direction.
And as we have led, our opponents have been busy changing leaders.
John Hewson has gone he went abusing us for Working Nation and the
Native Title Act and even more loudly cursing his colleagues for their
dishonesty and faint-heartedness. Alexander Downer came and just as quickly
went in a thick fog of confusion and embarrassment.
They now offer, as an alternative Prime Minister, their own third choice as
leader of the Liberal Party.
They have changed their leaders but not themselves.
They present him as a new man; they ask us to believe that all his previous
political life had been one gigantic mistake.
They ask us to believe that he will now support all those things he has devoted
his life to opposing.
They ask us to believe that he supports Medicare,-that his passionate life-long
opposition to universal health insurance was just a passing phase; that when,
over two decades, he was opposing every wage rise bar two and declaring that
award protections were the greatest blight on the country, he was just
rehearsing for the moment when he could say they were essential.
They ask us to believe that while for two decades he never raised a finger in
the interests of our environment, he was at heart an environmentalist.
Apparently we are to interpret his deeply reactionary record as just youthful
exuberance. It is too much to ask anyone to believe.
They ask us to believe that he has a vision for Australia. But, after 20 years in
politics, can any Australian say what it is?
4830

Ius The fact is. while Labor has a vision for Australia in the 21st century, John
Howard's vision extends no further than 2 March 1996. While Labor has been
repositioning Australia for the future, John Howard has been repositioning
himself to escape his past.
For 13 years we have resisted radical free market ideology in all its guises
including the guises of John Howard.
on's in. Now he is back, and with him a shadow ministry which presents a truly
: ion. disconcerting prospect.
Mr Fischer as Trade Minister a man who has publicly canvassed the idea that
Australia could institute a trade war with Japan, our largest trading partner, by
the not selling our primary products into their markets; a man who has said that the
heir Israeli secret service stole Malcolm Frasers trousers in Memphis.
-: ky Alexander Downer as Minister for Foreign Affairs the man who says we are
", obsessed" with Asia the region where we do 75 per cent of our trade; the
as man who says he would re-focus Australia on Europe and on what he calls our
" Western allies" in North America;-and who said two days before the historic
security agreement with Indonesia was signed that the " relationship was in
tatters".
ots We have a Shadow Treasurer who has yet to make a single constructive
contribution to the economic debate in this country. Can anyone remember
Mr Costello saying something positive or interesting about the futu re of
) led Australia?
And the Minister for selling Telstra in a Coalition government will be Bronwyn
ong Bishop.
len, , hat And they talk about arrogance.
just Australia's greatest enterprise and the one with the greatest potential, the one
on which every Australian in some sense depends Telstra is to be given to
r in Mrs Bishop to sell.
-hfulLet me repeat that Telstra is to be given to Mrs Bishop to sell.
And if she fails in this task, as she is bound to, Australians will not get their
environment policy from the Coalition.
Let's be very clear about this. One party will sell Telstra if they win this
s in election, the other Darty wi'l no! The Cof' tion wi!! sell it. The L~ t'r Party wil
not. Yet, for all the alarming inadequacies of his most senior colleagues, none of
them presents greater cause for alarm than the man who would be Prime
Minister. ' 18.31.
I

Mr Howard has always opposed those things which Australians are committed
to thinas like Medicare. the environment and the social safety net. He now
piasacs : that he has seen now A-, st,:-rac-like them. and has the! elOre char;: ed
his mind.
Even if we accepted this explanation, we would still have to query his
On foreign policy he has almost without exception chosen the wrong side on
every issue. He supported Ronald Reagan's Star Wars program but opposed
the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone. He thought Gorbachev's perestroika
program was a plot to disarm the West. He agreed with the opponents of
Nelson Mandela and vociferously opposed economic sanctions against South
Africa. When he mistakenly anticipated some political advantage, he
questioned the non-discriminatory principles of our immigration program. Last
year he gave every indication that he is still fighting the Vietnam War by
refusing to see Vietnam's most important political leader during his visit to
Australia. He is truly the most conservative leader the Liberal Party has ever had.
The truth is Mr Howard has never been able to drag his feet from the sands of
the past. He once said about Medicare that he knew we could never go back
entirely to the privatised health system of the 50s and 60s but, he said, " I
would love to go back".
As with Medicare. so with so much else.
That is why we say leadership is a major issue in this election because we
cannot go back. We cannot drift. We cannot take the risk.
If we are bold and have confidence in ourselves, we can grasp the opportunity
that now presents itself. No country in the world just now has such an
opportunity. What is happening now in East Asia is without precedent in world history.
Consider the wealth generated by the Industrial Revolution, and then consider
the relative size of the populations which produced it
East Asia has 2.5 billion people. The consistently high rates of economic
growth coupled with higher education is producing new and rising levels of
wealth and opportunity that knows no parallel in history.
And Australia is right in the middle of it.
Through most of our history, we have been remote from the big markets of the
world. But not any more.
41832

nitted If we recognise the opportunity and truly seek to integrate ourseives with it our
noweconomic future is assured. And with that integration will come the trade and
. nged wealth to further develop Australia and put us firmly in charge of our future.
The last ten years have seen us prepare for this opportunity, the last three
y his years have seen us beginning to come to grips with it.
But we will only succeed in the region around us if we truly want to be there. If
Je on we regard it as our natural place to be, with the people around us as real and
) osed genuine neighbours.
troika its of Our children will receive the inheritance we ourselves have been given, but
; outh they will employ it not as an enclave marooned on an abundant island but as a
he nation with a destiny flowing from the most generous benefaction of history; a
Last continent of our own, a border with no one, a deep democracy, an egalitarian
3r by ethic.
; it to The challenge is to harness our confidence;, to make ourselves stronger at
home and more enterprising abroad.
We have been preparing well, with higher levels of education and training, a
ds of premium on creativity and innovation, the development of a productivity culture,
back a commitment to competitiveness.
iid " I In a decade our exports are well on the way to doubling, our service industries
are growing dramatically and there is now a constellation of Australian
companies all over the world.
* e we Australians and their children will increasingly live lives caught up in the
phenomenon of our intemationalisation and find jobs in the industry of our
region. And their income growth will be guaranteed.
unity ian We can enter the new century a unique country with a unique future. We can
enter it prosperous and dynamic: a diverse and tolerant society, trading actively
in Asia and the rest of the world; secure in our identity, the more so because
we know that we have met the challenge of our times.
sider It is the greatest challenge we have ever faced as a nation. By the year 2000
we should be able to say that this predominantly British and European country
has learned to live securely, in peace and mutual prosperity among our Asian
omic and Pacific neighbours.
Is of We will not be cut off from our British and Eiuropean c~. es 2-:-do c
from those economies. On the contrary, the More engaged re
economically and politically with the region around us, the more value and
relevance we bring to those old relationships.
, f the 48.33

Far from putting our identity at risk, our relationships with the region will it
energise it. c E
We wili have Thnis unio-ue , ced.. We& w e made sense
of our future.
But it will only happen if we make it.
If we hesitate; if we look back and say: well, there is the past on the one hand,
and on the other hand there is the future, and the choice is not exclusive; let us .1L
ponder, let us form a committee, let us have a convention, let us listen to whata
our rump has to say, let us drift if we do that, we will lose the chance, a0
Because our neighbours are not drifting; our competitors are not drifting, the
modem world is not drifting the tide of change in the modern world is greater E
and more rapid now than at any time in our history. To drift would be 1
disastrous. The truth is we either grasp the opportunity now, or fail. The pace and V
momentum must not be lost; for if the fire goes out, not only is it unlikely to be
re-lit, but the opportunity will be lost and we will repent in leisure. T if,
The Asian economies are a huge field but the gateways are narrow and wAilb
rapidly close. tc
ar
The same might be said of another great opportunity which we simply'ms
grasp. T
Our ability to meet the challenge of the information revolution will significantly C.
determine how many jobs we can create in the near future, and what sort of
jobs they will be. A
How we meet it will also have a large say in the kind of country we become i
over the next half decade: whether, for instance, we continue to grow as a ft
clever and creative country; whether we innovate for ourselves or borrow from C
others; whether we generate our own films, television, information services of
and scientific and educational materials; whether our kids watch Playschool or
a Hollywood equivalent. P
It all depends on decisions we have made being followed through. And on the ar
right decisions being made in the near future. I V
If we move quickly we can create a major new Australian industry worth many At
billions of dollars which will create many thousands of jobs. fo
4834 H

will It can be Australian hospitals, not Californian ones, which deliver on-line
diagnostic services to Vietnam; Monash University, not the London School of
Economics, which delivers on-line education services to Malaysia; Australian
ise banks, Australian insurance companies, Australian businesses and agencies
vastly expanding their operations through on-line services abroad. There really
is no limit.
So long as we move quickly.
uds Let me ask one more question flowing from the information revolution. Does
' hat anyone believe that the current Coalition is equipped to deal with it? If the
answer is ' I'm not sure' that is as good a reason as any other not to vote for
them.
the
iter Because if Mr Howard and his colleagues dither if they drop the baton we
be have carried for the past four years the race will be over. And Australia will
be the loser.
ind We will lose a potentially massive industry and much else with it.
be The ability of our schools to take advantage of this revolution is particularly
important. A Labor Government will not support a school system divided
will between the information rich and the information poor. Our first priority must be
to provide computers on the basis of need, especially the needs of those who
are economically disadvantaged or in remote and rural areas.
ust The digitisation program, along with commitments made by Telstra and Optus,
will deliver network access to over 97 per cent of schools by the turn of the
ritly century.
t Of And today I am happy to announce that Labor will provide a new $ 300 million
information technology strategy for schools: $ 240 million over four years for
me hardware for computer learning centres for Australia's schools, and. $ 60 million
a for professional development for teachers. The $ 240 million will buy 150,000
omn computers and might I say, because of last year's Innovation Statement, many
; es of them will be made in Australia.
I or This is essential spending if we are to succeed in the information revolution
the and our children are to have a first rate chance in a first rate country.
J What we do over the next few years will have profound implications for schools,
businesses, homes and hospitals. It will have profound implications for
3ny Australia in the 21st century. It cannot be left to chance. I truly believe it
cannot be left to the Liberal and National parties.
I have chosen not to announce a swag of new policies in this speech today.
Unlike the Coalition, we have had our policies before the Australian people
for their examination for some time now. i the Innovation Statement, the
Housing Statement, the Environment Statement, the National Forest Policy 4835

Statement, the health policy, the Accord, APEC. the Security Agreement with
Indonesia the republic.
In this soeech. what I have been concerned with are the challenges we face as
a naticri ana the way Labor is going about meeting them. I think that is what
Austraiians need to be sure about just now the direction we are going, how we
are coping with the change all around us, how their families, communities and
their country are going to fare in all this.
I believe they are going to fare very well.
Much of what I have said has concerned our future, our kids, the Australians of
next century.
But change also affects older Australians. It was in part to protect them against
change that the Government has fulfilled Labor's historic promise to ensure that
the aged pension is pegged at 25 per cent of average weekly earnings.
Last year, and right through the commemorations marking the 50th anniversary
of the Second World War, Australians have paid tribute to the heroic
generation who defended our liberty and freedom everywhere.
A generation which contributed so much to this country deserve all the benefits
that we can provide.
At the same time, we must meet the needs of those members of today's'older
generation who too often find themselves out of the workforce but still-willing
and able to make vital contributions to this country.
Today we are releasing some initiatives a Labor Government will take to help
them to make these contributions. These may be taken as the beginning of
what will be a major government undertaking to come to terms with the new
realities of modern society as they apply to older people and to develop
programs which will tap their skills and knowledge and, where they wish,
engage them in the social and economic mainstream.
Ladies and gentlemen
At the end of three years we face the people of Australia confident that we have
earned their trust once more. I think we can say these things.
That we strenuously pursued the goals we set and that sometimes we
exceeded our own expectations. That we have been willing to lead, at home
and abroad, and that we have led with success. That we have looked after the
national interest and that we have looked after our fellow Australians when they
needed looking after. We have been conscientious. We have been active. We
have honoured the trust that was placed in us.
11836

wvith It is for the Australian people to judge us. If they judge us on our record I
believe they will decide that we have earned their trust again. And not just for
what we have done. but for what we are determined to do for what we believe
3ce as in, for the future of Australia.
3 what
ow we Our opponents, who have refused to present the people with their policies until
3s and well into the campaign itself, are talking about honesty, and trust.
But there can be no honesty without the honest presentation of policies. And it
is not honest to offer one policy as a bribe to win support for another. And it is
difficult to trust a man who denies his past, who says he supports a health care
ans of system he has always opposed, promises an industrial relations system of the
kind he has always abhorred, or declares himself something he has never
been.
gainst
* e that Our opponents say that it is time for Labor to go, as if there was a natural order
to elections, and not the need to prove credentials, prove ideas, demonstrate
capacity, show the people of Australia where you intend to take the country.
3rsary ieroic These years are too important to risk.
Let me tell you this: Labor's vision never burned so brightly, we were never
mefits more determined, never was the sense of mission stronger.
We Australians have a remarkable future within our grasp, a future which other
oldercountries can only dream of. We have this great goal and Labor has a great
wvilling passion to reach it.
ihelp
ng of
new
velop wish, have
3 we
iome r the
they We 4837

Transcript 9942