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Monday, 10 October 1994
Page: 1336

Senator CARR (5.08 p.m.) —I wish to oppose the motion moved by the opposition. I put it to the Senate that if we are talking about the failure of anything, it is the failure of the opposition. It is the failure of the opposition essentially to make it clear what it stands for. We have seen in recent times consideration given to what the Liberal Party is, 50 years after its creation. We are none the wiser other than to say that the Liberal Party in 1994 stands for office. We cannot determine clearly what it is, other than office, that the Liberal Party currently stands for.

  What we see is a Liberal Party which was left in reasonably good hands at the retirement of Bob Menzies but is now in complete disarray. It is unable to cope with the changes occurring within our society at large. It is unable to manage itself, let alone propose serious management of this society or this economy.

  By contrast, we simply have to look at a few basic indicators of where the government is going. One proposition we cannot get over is that in terms of economic growth Australia is growing at 4 1/2 per cent per annum. By international standards, that is way above OECD averages. When we look at a whole range of other indices we see substantial improvement in the economic performance of this country as a whole. If we turn to housing we see quite dramatic improvements in the levels of construction. In retail trade we see consumer confidence and business surveys show confidence and expectations for the future. All these things point to sustained growth in our economy.

  What we see is a government that is committed to a whole range of quite substantial policy objectives which, to a large measure, are being met. It is being done within the context of a social justice framework, which means that we are not looking after just a few. We are attempting to look after many and so produce a society which is much fairer, much more balanced and able to offer real and lasting prosperity to the citizens of this country.

  What this government is attempting to do is to secure a rate of economic and employment growth that leads to an increase in real incomes and, by doing so, also reduces unemployment. We are seeking to improve the level of domestic savings. The superannuation policies alone of this government point in that direction. We are seeking to continue the process of creating a more innovative manufacturing nation. The economic statistics once again prove that the government is able to deliver.

  We are looking at improvement of the international environment for our export industries by creating new international trade arrangements. Again, the work of this government points to success. We are seeking continued structural change in our economy so that we are able to cope with the pressures of the modern world. I contrast that with the conservatives. What are they saying about these matters? They come back with rhetoric, cliches and essentially no policy.

  In looking at other matters, in terms of education we are seeking to establish new national vocational education schemes, provide training schemes and an education scheme of a national basis. The recent ALP national conference took steps to further that progress which is being made. We are seeing a much clearer line defined in terms of meeting the needs of the economy and our citizens who work within that economy, particularly in terms of our education priorities.

  We are seeking to enhance social justice in our society, particularly Aboriginal land rights and the social justice implications through the ATSIC arrangements and the land funds that will be debated by this Senate hopefully later this week. We are seeking to establish constitutional and government arrangements which allow us to develop a clearer sense of our own identity as a republic and as a society committed to social democratic values.

  We have put all of these things in a framework of government which sees stability and real commitment to realisable objectives. As I say, by contrast what do we see from the opposition? Very little. We see an opposition that essentially is divided, leaderless and rudderless. In that context, it is no wonder that the people of Australia continue to support this government in the way that they do.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.