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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 8564


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: 30/06/1992

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 8564

JUNE 1992
J: What about Federal Opposition claims that the One Nationp icy safo eas
of the larger deficit, you don't have the necessary money
PM: Well that is just rubbish, because every dollar this Government has spent now over a
decade has been accounted for. The Federal Liberal Party when they were in
Government didn't even publish forward estimates. All of our Budgets are, the
figuring's there, the reconciliation tables. And the One Nation spending, which has
started, but in the main starts tomorrow, it starts in the new financial year, and it was
never intended to be spent before the new financial year. Thiat's the. first point, the
second point is, the one area where we have had a difficult negotiation is in putting
together a new greenfields agreements on thejai syster. But I mean there was
never one for a hundred years, so of course it had taken us a few months to do it.
That is, to try and build a national rail highway, which the lazy Liberals never
bothered with for most of the 40 post-war years. We expect that we will have that
greenfields industrial relations agreement to build a new national rail highway, we
should have that in place hopefully by the middle of July. And that will mean then
that all of the One Nation spending on the national rail network, the national rail
highway can begin then feeding money into a new system where we can lay new
track, lift the bridges, straighten the rail lines, and give Australia the kind of rail
system it should have always had.
J: Prime Minister your criticism of the Hogan image overseas, you don't withdraw
from that?

PM: No, it's not a criticism of the Hogan image, I am just saying it is just one of the
images. I think people should understand what I am saying. Australia is a subtle
country with lots of varying appeals for overseas visitors. That image appeals to one
group of visitors, but there are other images, and I am just saying that we need to let
people know about Australia, our successes, and the subtlety of Australia, and not to
be just encapsulated in one image. It is certainly no criticism of the Hogan image,
or its campaign which was eminently successful.
J: Mr Keating, Mr Dawkins is seeking a meeting with you because he is concerned
One Nation is not spending enough, quickly enough, or enough to get the economy
PM: That is not true. The Treasurer does not have to seek meetings with me, and I don't
need silly questions like that put to me by journalists, frankly. The spending is all
provided for and it will go ahead but we are not pouring money into rail systems
where we don't have greenfields industrial agreements in place, but the rest of the
spending, the roads, the main arterial roads around the capital cities have already
started, as you know the airline part of One Nation has already been enacted, that is,
a new airline system for Australia, Qantas flying in and the other airlines flying out.
We are setting up the Commission to provide those routes in the next week or two.
The payment to families was paid in April and that is already behind us. And the
tax changes to depreciation, and all of those things are already enacted. So a lot of
the One Nation policy is in place, but while they are difficult nuts to crack, with a
new industrial relations framework for a new rail highway, and of course it is
difficult to crack, it has been laying there with different gauge systems for a hundred
years. I mean the Liberal Party which governed Australia for most of the post-war
year were just happy to leave it lay as an industrial museum which we have had
to bring back to a modern rail system.
J: If you can't get that agreement will you reallocate that railway money?
PM: If we don't get the agreement of course we would reallocate the funds to road or
something else but I am pretty confident the agreement is coming through. Can I
just say while we are talking about packages that yesterday the Anglican Church
came out and attacked Dr Hewson spiteful policy of knocking people off
unemployment benefits after nine months and sending them down to voluntary
agencies. And I noticed Mr Gerard Menzies, of the Anglican Church, said it was an
abuse, that was the word he used, an abuse of the voluntary agencies for Dr Hewson
to offer them a paltry $ 50 million, and then load upon them the unemployed after
nine months, hundreds and thousands of people and their families on a system that
couldn't possibly cope with it. And as Mr Menzies himself made clear the Anglican
Church already spends $ 100 million in its own right, let alone the Catholic Church
and the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Salvation Army, to add $ 50 million is
an insult, but I agree it is an abuse of the voluntary agencies to turn people off
benefits after nine months and say well you are on your own, go down there and see

the Anglican and Catholic church if they can help you good on them, if they can't
too bad, you lay in the street, or look after yourself, or go to your extended family,
or do what they do in the United States: huddle over railway grates to keep warm, or
lie under cartons of a night. This is the sort of world that John Hewson wants to
build. These are the spiteful policies he has championed and the Anglican Church
has thrown it right back at him saying that the views of the Federal Director of the
liberal Party, Mr Robb, and articulating Dr Hewsons Fightback package is an abuse
of the work which is voluntary carried out by the voluntary agencies.
J: It has been reported that Senator Button wants the measures in One Nation fast
tracked, do you agree?
PM: Well look, we are going to fast track all we can, the main thing is most of the
spending is to be spent in the financial year 92-93, if you read the document that is
what you will find, 92-93 starts tomorrow, and will be spent over the 12 months
from tomorrow. It was never intended to be spent between February and July, only
a part of it and the parts that will be spent this financial year, I believe, we'll spend,
we'll spend the $ 1.8 billion we said we'll spend over the course of the financial year.
J: Given the Budget deficit situation is there any extra money around for more
targeting coming up to the Budget?
PM: Well they are all just Budget matters to be considered.
J: Is there any extra money though?
PM: Well to be considered, that's what a Budget Cabinet is for, to sit down look at
priorities, look at policy.
J: Mr Keating just getting back to your comments about Australia's image overseas,
what sort of image would you like to see the country portraying to overseas visitors?
PM: Well I would like to see it first of all as a place with interesting tourist destinations,
but a country which has got a unique identity and culture. That has flourishing arts,
that excels in dance, and theatre, that has a developed society, a country with a good
education system, a country that has made much provision for women, and
advanced the cause of women. I mean this is a place that I think many Americans
for instance, the Japanese people, would find aspects of Australia most interesting.
But I think it is a multifaceted country, and the multi-faces of Australia need to be
shown to the rest of the world, not just one face.
J: Are you critical of that so-called Yobbo image?
PM: I am not critical of it, it just needs to be complemented by the other images which
we all know exist.

J: Mr Prescott, the head of BHP, said the $ 2.3 billion in One Nation wasn't enough to
get the economy moving, it is far more sluggish then forecast and he actually
suggested that there was room for another $ 2 billion, do you agree?
PM: Well that's a view. At the time I think Mr Prescott thought, and so did Mr Bailey
and others that $ 2 billion was about the ticket and we spent $ 2.3 billion, but a great
bulk of that spending is yet to happen as it was planned to happen in 92-93 and we
will make a judgement about that as we go through the Budget processes. But one
thing is clear the economy is going to grow reasonably strongly over the course of
92-93 it may not grow uniformly across Australia but there is a patchiness about it,
but overall it is going to grow quite strongly through 92-93. The issue is how
quickly will employment respond to that growth, in other words will productivity
depress the growth and employment as growth in the economy proceeds, well that is
a matter for judgement and we will make judgements about that in the course of the
J: So it is becoming more efficient as a two-edged sword as you see it?
PM: Of course it is, productivity growth means a given level of output from fewer
people, that just simply means you have got to have more output, that means the
economy has got to grow faster and the only policy framework which allows the
economy to grow faster is the accord structure between the trade unions and the
Government. Under the Liberals policy the start would grow faster and when
inflation and wages started to grow they would just simply raise interest rates.
J: So do you stand by your employment growth figures in One Nation? By stating this
concern do you think there is some question mark about the
PM: Well employment has been slower, there is no doubt about that. But the growth will
still be pretty much as we forecast.

Transcript 8564