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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 5515

ADDRESS TO BUSINESSMEN'S LUNCH, COOLANGATTA, 16 FEBRUARY 1981

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: 16/02/1981

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 5515

J, ~ AUSTAt 4
PRIME MINISTER
ADDRESS TO BUSINESSMEN'S LUNCH, COOLANGATTA, 16 FEBRUARY 1981
I am quite sure that as member for McPherson Peter White will
be a very gcod member, who will not only be able to represent
this electorate and its particular interests, but also the
S state of Queensland and make a very worthwhile contribution
to the Party Room and to the general government of the
country. I am looking very much when Parliament first
meets onzbout the 24th of this month to welcoming Peter
White in the Liberal Party as your member.
He has got a good record of service, he is a local and he
knows the area and knows your concerns. Referring beyond
that, it ir; fair enough I think sometimes to ask why vote
Liberal'. Why Liberal, as opposed to some other political
party. I believe the Liberal Party is the only effective Australiawide
party which represents the interests of all people, of
all groups within the AustraliaR community. I believe the
Liberal Party alone is capalble,, effectively defending and
building the kind of Australia we want, in which freedom
and the importance of individual men and women and their
children is paramount in all the policies we pursue, where!
people are free, where they are not pushed around by the
bureaucracy,* where they are given some special protections
against the sometimes inevitably growing bureaucracies
and intrusions of a modern state. Where they are not
oppressed by the prospect of higher and higher taxes; I'll.
have something to show in a ( inaudible) about that because!
I assert without fear of contradiction from any of my good
friends that the Liberal Party stands in the forefront of
tax reform and tax reduction.
Throughout Australia, the Liberal Party is successfully
representing great electorates. Great electorates such as
the one of McPherson, except there is something unique about
this electorate not repeated in any other place. As the
only Australia-wide party we represent as many or more rural
seats as the National Party and I think that is worth noting.
We represent great traditional cities, Townsville, Bendigo,
Launceston and many others. We are the party where the
policies in a real sense are really made. We are part of
a great national movement right around Australia, founded
by Sir Robert Menzies and many other far-sighted people i:,, i / 2

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the last days of Labor Socialism in the mid-40' s, and has
been the greatest political party that Australia has ever
seen or will ever see. Because the Liberal Party wrill
endure and strengthen while Australia survives, and that
is going to be forever.
Labor really-isn't a credible alternative. I think that's
probably recognised. Even on taxes they're still talking
about higher taxes and more taxes, and they've tried to run
away from the fact that they were proposing a wealth tax.
But the leader of the Labor Party Opposition in Victoria
shortly after the elections said it's time we had a wealth
tax, and it's quite plain that that kind of punitive approach
is very much a part of their philosophy. They were proposing
a capital gains tax and, you know, it's very much against
the Liberal Party philosophy to have a capital gains tax.
And I was surprised when Glen Sheil caught up with the
idea and wanted to have a capital gains tax with about
If he did I think that would be about the highest capital
gains tax in the western world. I know some countries have
them and they don't advance their causes by so doing. And
I thought this state had abolished death duties. I didn't
really know that Johwas wanting us to introduce
death duties on the living as Glen Sheil's capital gains
tax would be.
The Labor Party is still living very much in the past. The
Left is more influential than ever. ( Inaudible) three
elections in a row pretending to be moderate and in-Opposition
that's what the Labor Party always do. Mr Hayden obviously
thought he tried another tack and he said we've got to stop
trying being moderate; we've got to stop trying to pretend
we're not openly and blatantly socialist in everything that
we do. -We've got to retain our socialism and go about it
in a full blooded way. Well if he wants to go on talking
like that we can have anoth-er general election, and double
the majority again. But a majority is enough but it is
a tiny reminder -to. the people of McPherson that the Labor
Party isn't an option,
The National Party in Canberra are great partners in a great
coalition and the relationship in that coalition I think is
probably better than it has been in any coalition in all
the years I have been in the Parliament. And that's going
back to the middle sixties. But I don't know how it's happened,
the State branch of the party seems to have proposed policies
that are slightly unrealistic in relation to the nation' s
affairs in this by-election. But I don't really know why
a state branch of a party wants to get into the business
of trying to make federal policy anyway. Well they've got
their own policy problems within the State sometimes. But
I noticed only yesterday my good friend, joh said the only
party pushing for lower taxation is the National Party
we'll just query that a little we're a low taxation party-
* and we've administered Queensland that way. We're the only
ones to keep pressing our policy on. Well that's a great ./ 3

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statement. But the part I would like to draw to your attention
and we have administered Queensland in that way. I really
would like to question that a little bit. Because when
Joh first became Premier in 1968, was it, he had 83,000
public servants. How many do you think he has got today?
100,000? 110,000? It's 149,000, a growth of 60,000.
Now I don't know whether that is the greatest growth of
all the States but it is certainly a very great growth.
He spent in 1968 $ 220 a head for the people of Queensland.
In 1979/ 80 he spent $ 994 a head, which is an increase in
real terms of 55%. And if he had held that money constant in
real terms so that the good people of Queensland should
have got the benefit of lower taxes instead of higher
government spending, there would have been $ 780 million
to give back to the people of Queensland in taxes lower
than they would now pay. That's $ 27 a month for every
man, woman and child in the State.
Now when he says that we're a low taxation party, we've
administered Queensland in that way, I believe that those
figures put a question mark over it to put it mildly in
quite a. substantial way.
Well a lot has been ' said about the flat rate tax proposal and
I don't think that's really taken very seriously. I don't
think anyone with a social conscience and a concern for
this community, for the total community which is the concern
of the'Liberal Party, are more of those who believe in our
philosophy. I don't think anyone could give much credence to a proposal
that would seek to more than double the tax on somebody
earning $ 9000 a year with a dependent spouse and at the
same time halve the tax on somebody earning more than $ 50,000
a year. I don't think there is much social justice in that.
I don't think this community is one that will support a
proposal of that kind which is so blatantly and plainly
inequitable. The proposal that was put would cost, slightly
later figures than the ones I had a week ago that John Howrard
has worked out for me. The latest proposals on the norma.
states' share would have involved a reduction of $ 500 million
in the Commonwealth payments to the state of Queensland for
general revenue purposes. Now do we really believe that the
state of Queensland is prepared to accept its share of that
particular reduction, when only three or four days ago
all the Premiers signed a document, an agreed document from the
States asking for more money, a greater share, higher returns
we would have to tax, they wouldn't have to tax it, and
give it to the States to spend as they want. And this is just
one of the reports of that particular document in one of
the papers today which states they press for a bigger slice
of taxes.
So when Premiers come to Canberra I have never yet known
a Premier say, look I've got enough money on this particular
issue, Prime Minister, I don't need more on that issue. Have
you ever known a Premier to come back and say he has enough?
They always want more. If somebody wants to reduce taxes as
./ 4

I do, and that's why we sometimes say no to Premiers at
the Premiers' Conference. That's why we have staff ceilings,
that's why have 10,000 less public servants than we did
five years ago in the Commonwealth. If you really want to
reduce taxes you have got to show that you are fair dinkum
in restraining expenditure. And you don't allow your
state bureaucracies to run wild, you don't allow your own
expenditures to run wild. And you don't go to every Premiers'
Conference saying how mean the Commonwealth is, they should
give us more money, They should be saying give us less money
so long as you use what we don't pay in taxes. Well, Joh
share of the less on his own proposals is $ 500 million and
when we have that Premier's Conference I think I might collect
it from him.
But, ladies and gentlemen, that's really a bi-play--., I got out
those figures that somebody got for me, and I thought them
too good not to use.
The really important thing is that Australia is growing in
confidence, Australia is growing in capacity, just as the
Gold Coast is growing forward strongly, the spirit of free
enterprise, that's what's happening here in different ways
is being mirrored right around Australia. The re-building of
thisnation is well underway. What we've done in the last
five years is in a real sense is building the foundations.
But if you are going to build a strong nation, the foundatio: 2-s
have to be strong. And they are. But a lot of it is underground.
But from now on, through the ages, the next three years, you
are going -to see the result of it all above ground. And
they'll be wider and wider recognition of the benefits of
our policies.
I think there are still some who may not feel that progress has
been made, but if ' they go to Britain, go the United States, or
to Europe, they'll see the great difference between the
confidence and enthusiasm in Australia and the difficulties
being experienced in many other countries.
of course, we had to get the fundamental things right. Inflation
had to come down because it robs the retired, the aged, it-hurts
the weak most of all. It makes it hard to sell our good side
eit'--her in Aust%. ralia or overseas, therefore it destroys confidence
and jobs. And that's why, having worked at it for five years,
having our inflation now below the average of all western
countries, and right now at the bottom of range, its a beacon
of hope all around the world and people say why has Australia
been able to do things, which they've not been able to do over
the last five years in other places. And I think that the
fact that our inflation has come down while theirs has been
. going up is the fact that this economy is growing while the
world economy is standing still is all the more credit to
all Australians, because we've gone against the tide. / 6

It's easy enough, perhaps, if you are reasonably sensible
to get a bit of growth and expansion into an economy, to have
jobs increased, but if the whole world's economy is growing,
you get picked up in that. The world economy isn't growing,
the world's trade has not been moving much and Australia
has gone against the tide in a resounding way as a result
of what we've done. And a large part of that is as a result
of the decline in the government's claim on resources.
And the size of the public service is a sign of that
10,000 down on five years ago and in the same period Joh's
has gone up 14,000.
And the third fundamental accept the economic growth we
need in this country. Because we need that growth so that
we'll have jobs for people but also so we will have the
resources to enable people to have the standard of life
they want, for themselves and their families, but also so
that governments can take a reasonable share to provide
the things that governments must do without taxes being
too punitive. And the OECD is now believing that Australia
will grow., at 4% this year, while many of the major OECD
countries won't grow at all, some, the poorest ones their
economie s will even shrink they'll produce less than the
years before. And think what that means for their standard
of life, for the jobs in those countries. It's a circumstance
that is depressing and hope that it is soon reversed. Business
investment is upward, oil exploration is the highest since
1969, mining and manufacturing $ 33 billion intended for
Australia and about $ 8 billion or 25% of it is because of
Queensland. Because the broad economic policies of this
State, that there is a bit more restraint in expenditure
and allows a compatible and encouraging investment and
development in the great state of Queensland. But the growth
is across Australia. In many different kinds of industries,
in mining, manufacturing and also in rural, because before
the drought rural employment had grown for the first time
in 30 years. And that again is a mark of what we've done.
But this is happening because government policies are not
longer pushing private people and individuals and businesses
aside. We passed the ball to private enterprise and with
the imagination aid iniative of Australians, we' re picking
up and running with it, to the advantage of themselves,
their families, all Australians.
And so employment has grown strongly over the last year, and.
especially so in this state. This helps to provide resources
for those in need. We introduced the present sensible income
test for pensioners, we indexed pensions twice a year to
protect the elderly, pensioner health benefit cards have
been relaxed to benefit additional people. We have provided.
in the last budget, special additional assistance to welfarE!
beneficiaries with dependent children. We have provided
funds for 700 projects to build homes for the elderly and
12 of them are being built in this electorate. / 6

We want to Continue to restrain public expenditure, to
provide strong growth throughout this economy so that we
will have a greater capacity to reduce the burden of
taxation. But it's got to be dune sensibly, it's got to
be done in a realistic way and there'su'io point in coming
forward with schemes that might sound good if you look at
the front cover but fall apart once you take that cover off.
And I believe our way of restraining government expenditure,
of encouraging growth in this economy, offers the only
real way to lower the individual tax burden on Australians
and on Australian families. And we reject totally the high
tax policies of the Australian Labor Party.
Ladies and gentlemen, as a result of what we have done over
the last five years, and as a result of the initiative and
work of countless thousands of Australians in this state,
on the Gold Coast, right around the Commonwealth, Australia
is now a beacon of hope for many advanced industrial countriLes.
People have said how has Australia been able to achieve,
why haven't other countries been able to, why have you been
able to get your growth up and your inflation down and so
many others have failed to do so.
As a consequence there's a respect from our neighbours, from
our trading partners, the respect from business people and
financiers who want to invest their dollars in Australia,
sharing With us the growth and potential of one of the great
countries of the world. And this area, the Gold Coast, is a
symbol of this spirit of private enterprise. You've only
got to look around to hear more and see how much has been
done because people have confidence, and they back their
confidence with dollars.
The philosophy of the Liberal Party in government has I
believe ' opened the vision of Australia which seemed quite
out of reach a few years ago. We now need to plan ahead
with a clear perspective of what we are about. We need to
have it understood that our policies are not ones for this
week, next month. They're not policies for a by-election,
they're policies for the term of Parliament from the decade
that will last, that will endure, that will stand the test
of time. The policies which will mean I think that we're
not going to be judged on our rhetoric, but on our actions,
on our results. And here you can see the results all around.
But in this there is a role for everyone who believes in
our cause, there is a role for everyone especially over the
week who believes in Peter White as I do. People want to
be assured that our decisions are carefully thought through,
there is a consistency in judgements in our policies, that
we are governing in accordance with our philosophy and ideals
and that our decisions show concern for the well-being
of individual Australians and their families. I think
people want to know that we offer something much more than
a good standard of living, something much more than nuts and
bolts of a material society. We offer a way of life steeped
in freedom and the values which have stood by the Liberal

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Party since its foundation in 1945. -And in getting that
message across, there is an opportunity for everyone to
do something about it, either to recruit more members
of the Liberal Party or to convert one, two, three or
four a day, depending on your energy and your powers of
persuasion from one or other of the parties I don't
mind which to our cause because our cause is right, and
our cause is right for Australia. I have a total and
utter conviction of that, and if I didn't have that
conviction* ltd stay on my own farm.
Your vote for Peter White is a chance to keep in touch with
the work of the Liberal Party in Canberra. It is a chance
to make sure you have a voice in the party room, a voice
that can speak to government of your concerns, not just
for this election, but for the wider Australia which we
all love. It's a chance to see that the successes of the
I past are not squandered on some hairbrain schemes which are
brought out that last for three weeks and are not intended
to last beyond that.' It's a chance to have a responsible
voice in the Fraser/ Anthony government. which I believe has
done niuch for Australia. But there is a great challenge
ahead of us and the work has just begun.
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Transcript 5515