PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2585


Photo of McMahon, William

McMahon, William

Period of Service: 10/03/1971 to 05/12/1972

More information about McMahon, William on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 07/05/1972

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 2585

Speech by the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. William M4cMahon, CH, MP
May 7, 1972.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is my second visit to the " W'est" in ten months and I
can assure you that both occasions have been rewarding. I have
been delighted by the warmth and strength of support for the
Liberal Party and the coalition government generally. I have found
this warm support everywhere I have gone during this five day visit
to Western Australia. There is undoubtedly a wave of enthusiasm
for liberalism running for us here. I think there are ' a number of
good reasons for this. There is the steadily rising tide of
business and economic confidence including the strong recovery of
the rural economy. There is a widespread and accurate impression
that the worst is well behind us economically. The economy " bottomed
out" in the first months of the year and the recovery is well and
truly underway. I think we are also getting some be nefit from
disillusionment at the state level.
West Australians are always prepared to give even a Labcr
Government a fair go. But I think-the resurgence of Liberal Party
membership and the great warmth I have encountered here indicate
very clearly which way the political tide is running now. I don't
think doctrinaire attempts to impose bureaucratic and cumbersome
controls do anything but downgrade individual freedom and interfere
with individual initiative. It's clear that West Australians
recognise this in relation to price control plans. At -the Foderal
level, there has been a fair amount ofl discussion about price control.
We have responded initially by commissioning a document which will
review the operation of price control attempts both in Australia
and overseas. When it is complete, we will present that document
to the Parliament and allow debate on it. In that way, people can
be fully informed about the consequences of prices control. We are
opposed to it, at this stage at least. We believe it leads to
distortions and economic bottlenecks and that real headway against
inflation is more likely to come through an attack on its root causes.
Here I refer to the ccmbination of industrial lawlessness and
excessive and unremitting wage demands that we have experienced. / 2

During the year the end cf Decamber average weekly
earnings went up by 11 Per cent, and during the year up-to the end
of March, prices went up by 7 per cent. Productivity or the actual
increase in real production and income from the economy was around
2 or 3 per cent. The inescapable result of that situation is an
inflationary pressure which sooner or later breaks out in a.
of price increases. Rising prices affect evorybody especially do
they make life hardenfor fixed income earners and others who have
limited influence over the level of their own income. That aspect
of this problem is particularly on my mind today, as I have just
come from a ceremony where I openod a new section of a home for old
people, and I am also glad to see that in tho national wage decision
the Arbitration Commission placed the major emphasis on the increase
in the minimum wage. But of course, others have been doing quite
well through the exercise of industrial muscle by militant and
powerful unions groups, and this is the question that lies at the
heart of the inflationary problem. This is the issue which must be
dealt with before we can be confident of restoring price stability.
The time lost in strikes last year increased very strongly
over the previous year. The total increase in the time lost was
28 per cent and the total of wages lost was 45 million dollars. We
have not just been standing idly by in this situation. We have
made decisions on a whole package of measures to fight inflation.
They can -, mmarised unde,-r four major decision areas:-
There was our decision to make the most significant changes
to the industrial laws since 1947. We brought these amendments
into Parli& ment only a few days ago, and they will be debated this
week. They will provide for secret ballots and they will strengthen
the arbitration system which has served this nation so well for so
long. Next, there was our decision. to-promote grecat competition
in business. We are going : Eo do this by strengthening the
restrictive trade practices laws and reviewing the level of tariff
protection. This wil~ l make it harder to pass on wage increases too
readily given, by simply raising prices. Next, there was cur
decision to exercise our influence before the wage tribunal to
exercise moderation in wage increases in the C.-omomqalth's Iwn
area of influence. Lastly, there was our decision for continuous
Commonwealth intervention in important wage cases oefore the
Arbitration Commission. tc-iiwnress on the arbitration tribunals
as strongly as we were capable of doing what the economic
consequences of their decisions would be.
For months until the carpenters case we had very indifferent
success in this. But in recent weeks, and in the national wage
decision only on Friday, our policy of wage restraint is starting to
bear fruit. We have a balanced and sensible decision in the
national wage case. It presents us with a nationai opportunity to
make further real headway against inflation. We need now a period
of industrial peace and Price stability. Union leaders should
realise that the best interests of their own members lie in
curbing inflation. Employers too, must not use this wage decision
as an excuse for further price rises. Let's have a bit of oi~ a
fashioned commonsense, moderation and restraint.

4 3.
I have outlined our major areas of decision in combating
inflation. There are many other areas of national life where we
have shown a willingness to act boldly and decisively in matters
calling for public decisions. We have implemented a whole string of
economic management decisions from action on interest rates and
bank lending in the secona nalf of last year through to the mini-
Budget", just a couple of weeks ago. Throughout that period we
have not hesitated to make a decision to further stimulate the
economy. We will not hesitate to do so in the future. We have
made many other decisions and taken initiatives right across the
spectrum of national policies; whether it be in land rights for
aboriginals in defence aid to Indonesia and Malaysia or in our
early recognition of, and support for, Bangla Desh: whether it be
in our initiative to establish the Australian Environment Council
of Commonwealth and State ministers. And I will be making a
further statement of national policy on environmental policy quite
soon. In the defence area we have recognised the importance of the
Indian Ocean to cur strategy. We have gone ahead with the: second
stage of Cockburn Sound. We are spending twelve and a half million
upgrading Learmonth Airfield as a base for long range reconnaissance.
Take education as another example. In December, we made a
decision that 20 million dollars would be given to the states for
classroom ccnstruction and some of that money is already being
used to replace or refurbish old schools in inner suburban areas.
We made a decision to increase the grants to independent schools
and we liberalised tax deduction provision for education. We
decided on an extensive programme of support for the arts. We are
nep ng the wool industry: We have a programme of rural
reconstruction. Ladies and Gentlemen, I have a list here which covers over
pages describing our nolicv decisions I will not list them
all, but I will say that as these aecisions work through the
community; as they become more widely known; as economic confidence
grows stronger; as Australians come to understand the serious
defects and consequences of the policies of our opponents, then I
have complete confidence that policies of the Liberal Party and the
decisions and actions of this coalition Government will ensure our
safe return as a Government. We are in a particularly strong
position here in the " West" and I ask you to do all you can to
help return the Liberal candidate in your electorate.

Transcript 2585