PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 4126

PRIME MINISTER'S INTERVIEW WITH LAURIE WILSON, FOR "THIS WEEK"

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: 23/05/1976

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 4126

E1A". 1RGO: 1., DG SUNDAY 4j> AUSTRALIA g
PRIME MINISTER
FOR PRESS 23 May 1976
PRIME MINISTER'S INTERVIEW WITH LAURIE WILSON, FOR " THIS WEEK"
QUPTION: Mr Fraser, from your point of view, just what have you managed
to do, with this mini-buget?
PRIME MINISTER: We've taken very substantial steps in bringing
forward Government expenditures back into line with reality,
with What tax payers can afford. This is quite essential
if inflation is to be overcome. In addition to that,
we've introduced tax indexation that does two things:
we believe it will help to relieve pressure on wages because
when people got more wages they went into higher tax
brackets, that generated more pressure for more wage rises.
It was a constant merry-go-round. Tax indexation will also keep
governments honest if we want more of people's incomes for a
particular projecc or for government plans, we'll have to
legislate for it, and explain why. That's good. And the
third the Medibank levy, of course. Medibank is an
expensive Droazrafe which we believe needs to be seen to be
paid for. The last part in the total package was the new
system of family allowances which I regard as a major social reform.
QUESTION: There would seem to be overall, more of an emphasis on the'
social conten in the budget, rather than the economic side.
PRIME MINISTER:. : I don't think so because $ 2,600 million reduction and
relief on the budget itself for the next financial year is
a very significant economic measure. And in addition to that,
you've got taxindexation, Medibank and the family allowances.
Now the family allowances are already being paid for out of
Othe abolicion of tax rebates; and the old sums that went to
child endowment. So, it's a reorganisation of the social
welfare area of a very important time. But it's not within
greatly additional resources into that area.
QUESTION: In terms, you're talking about reorganisation, it strikes
me in terms of the amount of extra cash that people have got,
it really does seem that all you've done there is realise
too, reshuffle, in the sense that people really don't seem
to be any better off.
PRIME MINISTER: Well it depends on who you're looking at. If you are
looking at the 300,000 families and the 800,000 children or
more in a very low income area, probably not able to get

any advantage out of the tax rebate system, they're going
to be much better off. Quite obviously the total resources of
Australia are limited, and wE can't provide additional assistance
to families in these categories unless it comes from somebody else
and -that can't be hidden. But the main transfer is really from
government back to the private sector. Anid that's what
cct: pes out of the reduction in the demands on the budget of
$ 2,600 million. So it's really the government that's giving
up most in this context, rather than any one group of individuals.
QUESTION: ' But you accept the point that the middle and upper income
earners really don't appear to be better off, even if not....
PRIME MINISTER: Well they certainly won't be worse off, with the total
package, Medibanrk tLhrow,, n in. And also you've got to understand
that tax indexation is a continuing process, because of the
way-the law is drawn, next year it will be automatic again.
And in year 2 and year 3, instead of the extra tax take
go1ingC to the gover-nment, people will be keeping a larger part
: or cheir income. So on a continuing process individual tax
payers will become bet-ter off, an~ d the years pass.
QUESTION: Wha t really have you got to bargain with the unions with.
Given that any benefit they seem to have been given, does
a~ oear really to lbe allusory?
PRIME MINISTER:. No I don't think it's allusory. Everyone knows that
MediAbank has to be paid for. You can't introduce a major
government prograrre of that kind and pretend that you don't
have to raise extra taxes, or. payments in some way to cover
the cost of the benefit. It's just nonsense to pretend that
you can. What all Australians, trade unions and everyone else have
gained out of this is tax indexation, to protect their incomes
in the future, and also a just and proper system of family allowa* s
QUESTION: Yes, but why-should wage earners moderate their wage claims
now that they are protected against inflation by tax indexation.
I mean, what have you got to argue with?
PRIME MINISTER: I think there's a great deal. Because there's a real
element of economic and social justice in what we're doing.
Basically, most Australians want a job. And trade unionists
are having to understand, and leading spokesmen in the trade
union miovement are coming to understand, that there is a very
real connection between wage demands, that are too high, inflation
and unemployment. There is not much fun in getting higher wages,
ff your mate next door loses his job.
QUESTION: it terms of the average employee though. he's going to look
at what you've done, he's going to say, well, I may be
getting more in my pay packet, but I'm paying out more for
Medibank I'm really not getting any more. I have to keep
coming back to this point, that you're talking about the lot of
a wage earner having-been improved, but he in simple dollars
and cents terms is not going to see it that way. And therefore,
how can you expect him in' return...

don't
? RIME MINISTER: I/ think he Jis going to see it that way, because
I think most peo~ le are going to understand that something
like Medibank has to be paid for by somebody. At the same time)
it needs to be enphasised that those on the lower income
groups, under Medibank, won't be paying all that much it's
atkt-Zhe higher middle and higher income levels where the
levy. obviously takes more of their income. Just because its
f a percentage basis. But I think the basis of your question,
lies in the fact that you're not giving sufficient credibility
i. the common sense of the average Australian. We've got
a situation, quite clearly, I believe where people on the shop
floor, working right around Australia, understand, the basic
facts of life. That Governments have got nothing of their own
to give or to provide. They can only provide what comes from
other people. We have to live within our means as individuals,
as a family and as a nation. The realism in the' Treasurer's
statement last week, indicates plainly that we're taking all
Australia towards realism in what people can expect from
g-overnm=_-ents. And at the same time doing it in a way that is
justand fair for individual taxpayers.
IOUNE: In terms of the economy, are you working towards some sort
U of ec= nomic timetable aiming at a level of unemployment or
a level of inflation within 18 months, 2 years.
' IRIME MINISTER: Wqell we're certainly aiming at getting inflation down,
unemployment down, but I don't think it makes much sense ot
nr) o= mnate specific targets, economies don't work that
way. it's not a nice, precise equation. It depends on the
reactions of many thousands of people right around the country.
The meeting that we're going to have with the trade union
movement in two or three weeks time will be significant.
The attitude that the unions take to the future of wage
increases will be significant. If we could guarantee that their
attitude will be -moderated, and if a decision shortly to come
from te Arbitation Commission is also going to be moderate,
then I think that will given enormous confidence, to industry
to investors, coming on top of what we've just done. Then I
think we'll start to see the economy moving much quicker, jobs
being created much quicker.
? UESTION: You seem in your address to the nation last Monday night,
you seem to have concentrated that it really is essential
to get the cooperation of the union movment, in wage moderation,
for your package to work. Now if you don't, then what's
the outlook then?
' RILME MINISTER: We need the cooperation of everyone in the country in a
sense. I made it quite plain that the responsibilities on the
government will be accepted and we'll act to them. And I think
waht we've done has shown that. But people can't just leave
it to people in Federal Parliament to say, the future of the
country doesn't'concern the rest of us. Everyone has a role
to play and the trade union movement has a role to play, as has
the ACTU. And this again is becoming more widely recognised.
I'm not going to make any undue predictions, about what comes
out of those discussion we'll just have to wait and see.
But we have, by the measures we've taken, given Australia, I

believe, an unparalleled opportunity to break inflation,
and really to get this country moving forward.
QUESTION: Yes, but it still comes back to that point how dependent
for that are you on the union movement?
PRIME MINISTER: If there isn't cooperation, it's just going to make
our job harder. If we all work together towards one
objective, it's obviously much easier to achieve. The
basic objectives of preserving and improving-* living standards,
the basic objectives of seeing that there are jobs for all
those who want to work. What the government has done is to
show that it is concerned, not just for these economaic
realities, but it is also concerned for a very real measure
of social justice. It's introduced maybe, the most far
reaching social reform, certainly iA* n my ti* me in Parliament,
maybe going back much further than that. This tends, I
believe to set a climate where we can talk to the trade union
~ movement, with a greater expectation of a good result
000oo0000

E'IL-ARGO: 10.00 P. m. SUNDAf
PRIME MAINISTER
FOR PRESS .23 May 1976
PRIM4E MINISTER'S INTERVIEW4 WITH LAURIE WILSON, FOR " THIS WEEK"
QUESTION: Mr Fraser, from your Doint of view, just what have you managed
to do, with this mini-buget?
PRIME MINISTE73,: We've taken very substantial steps in bringing
orwrdGovernment expenditures back into line with reality,
Twith -what tax payers can afford. This is quite essential
. Lf in. lation is to be overcome. In addition to that,
we'vze introduced ax. indexation that does two things:
we believe . it will help to relieve pressure on wages because
when people got more wages they went into higher tax
brackets, that generated more pressure for more wage rises.
It was a constant -merry-go-round. Tax indexation will also keep
governments honest if we want more of people's incomes for a
particular project or for government plans, we'll have to
legislate for it, and explain why. That's good. And the
third the Medibank levy, of course. Medibank is an
ex-ienisive programme which we believe needs to be seen to be
paid for. The last part in the total package was the new
system of family allowances which I regard as a major social reform.
QUESTION: There would seem to be overall, more of an emphasis on the
social content in the budget, rather than the economic side.
PRIME MINISTER: I-don'-t think so because $ 2,600 million reduction and
relief on the budget itself for the next financial year is
a very significant economic measure. And in addition to that,
you've got taxindexation, Medibank and the family allowances.
Now the family allowances are already being paid for out of
, the abolition of tax rebates; and the old sums that went to
child endowment. So, it's a reorganisation of the social
welfare area of a very important time. But it's not within
greatly'additional resources into that area.
QUESTION: In terms, you're talking about reorganisation, it strikes
me in terms of the amount of extra cash that people have got,
it really does seem that all you've done there is realise
too, reshuffle, in the sense that people really don't seem
to be any better off.
PRIME MINISTER: Well it depends on who you're looking at. If you are
looking at the 300,000 families and the 800,000 children or
mnore in a very low income area, probably not able to get

any advantage out of the tax rebate system, they're going
to be much bet _ er off. Quite obviously the total resources of
Australia are limited, and we can't provide additional assistance
to families in. these categories unless it comes from somebody else
and that can't be hidden. But the main transfer is really from
government backc to the private sector. And that's what
cc-. es out of the reduction in the demands on the budget of
$ 2,600 million. So it's really the government that's giving
up most in this context, rather than any one group of individuals.
QUESTION: ' But you accept the point that the middle and upper income
earners really don't appear to be better off, even if not
PDRIME MINISTER: Well they certainly won't be worse off, with the total
package, Medibank thrown in. And also you've got to understand
that tax indexation is a continuing process, because of the
way the law is drawn, n~ ext year it will be automatic again.
And in year 2 and year 3, instead of the extra tax take
going to the government, people will be keeping a. larger part
. of their income. So on a continuing process individual tax
payers will become better off, and the years pass.
QUESTION: What really have you got to bargain with the unions with.
Given that any benefit they seem to have been given, does
appear really to be allusory?
PRIME MINISTER:. No I don't think it's allusory. Everyone knows that
Medibank has to be paid for. You can't introduce a major
government programme of that kind and pretend that you don't
have to raise extra taxes, or payments in some way to cover
tohsteof te bne" t. It's just nonsense to pretend that
you can. What all Australians, trade unions and overyone else have
gained out of this is tax indexation, to protect their incomes
in the future, and also a just and proper system of family allowances.
QUESTION: Yes, but Twhyv should wage earners moderate their wage claims
now that they are protected against inflation by tax indexation.
I mean, what hnave you got to argue with?
PRIME MINISTER: I think there's a great deal. Because there's a real
element of economic and social. justice in what we're doing.
Basically, most Australians want a job. And trade unionists
are having to understand, and leading spokesmen in the trade
union miovement are coming to understand, that there is a very
real connection between wage demands, that are too high, inflation
and unemployment. There is not much fun in getting higher wages,
If your mate next door loses his job.
QUESTION: It terms of the average employee though. he's going to look
at what you've done, he's going to say, well, I may be
getting more in my pay packet, but I'm paying out more for
Medibank I'm really not getting any more. I have to keep
coming back to this point, that you're talking about the lot of
a wage earner having been improved, but he in simple dollars
and cents terms is not going to see it that way. And therefore,
how can you expect him in* return 13

don't
PRIME MINISTER: I/ think he . is going to see it that way, because
I think most people are going to understand that something
like Nedibank has to be paid for by somebody. At the same time,
it needs to be enphasised that those on the lower income
groups, under Nedibank,' won't be paying all that much it's
at ' the high ' er middle and. higher income levels whffere the
levy-obviously takes more of their income. Just because its
fpercentage basis. But I think the basis of your question,
lies in the fact that you're not giving sufficient credibility
in the cormmon sense of the average Australian. We've got
a situation, quite clearly, I believe where people on the shop
floor, working right around Australia, understand, the basic
facts of life. That Governments have got nothing of their own
to give or to provide. They can only provide what comes from
other people. We have to live within our means as individuals,
as a family and as a nation. The realism in the Treasurer's
statement last week, indicates plainly that we're taking all
Australia towards realism in what people can expect from
gove-raments. And at the same time doing it in a way that is
juszand fair for individual taxpayers.
qUESTION: In terms of the economy, are you working towards some sort
of ec-anomic timetable aiming at a level of unemployment or
a level of inflation within 18 months, 2 years.
PRIME MINISTER: Well we're certainly aiming at getting inflation down,
uneMuloyment down, but I don't think it makes much sense ot
nominate specific targets, economies don't work that
way. it's not a nice, precise equation. It depends on the
reactions of many thiousands of people right around the country.'
The meeting that we' re going to have with the trade union
movement in two or three weeks time will be significant.
The attitude that che unions take to the future of wage
increases will be significant. If we could guarantee that their
attitude will be moderated, and if a decision shortly to come
from the Arbitration Commission is also going to be moderate,
then I think that will given enormous confidence, to industry
to investors, coming on top of what we've just done. Then I
think we'll start to see the economy moving much quicker, jobs
being created much quicker.
UESTION: You seem in your address to the nation last Monday night,
you seem to have concentrated that it really is essential
to get the cooperation of the union movment, in wage moderation,
for your package to work. Now if you don't, then what's
the outlook then?
IRINIE MINISTER: We need the cooperation of everyone in the country in a
sense. I made it quite plain that the responsibilities on the
government will be accepted and we'll act to them. And I think
waht we've done has shown that. But people can't just leave
it to people in Federal Parliament to say, the future of the
country doesn't concern the rest of us. Everyone has a role
to play and the trade union movement has a role to play, as has
the ACTU. And this again is becoming more-widely recognised.
I'm not going to make any undue predictions, about what comes
out of those discussions5, we'll just have to wait and see.
But we have, by the measures we've taken, given Australia, I

believe, an unparalleled opportunity to break inflation,
and really to get this country moving forward.
QUESTION: Yes, but it still comes back to that point ho~ w dependent
for that ar-e you on the union movement?
PRIME MINISTER: If there isn't cooperation, it's just going to make
our job harder. If we all work together towards one
objective, it's obviously much easier to achieve. The
basic objectives of preserving and improving living standards,
the basic objectives of seeing that there are jobs for all
those who want to work. What the government has done is to
., how that it is concerned, not just for these economic
realities, but it is also concerned for a very real measure
of social justice. It's introduced maybe, the most far
reaching social reform, certainly in my time in Parliament,
maybe going back much further than that. This tends, I
believe to set a climate where we can talk to the trade union
. movement, with a greater expectation of a good result
000000000

Transcript 4126