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Monday, 11 May 1987
Page: 2898

Mr MAHER —My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Since coming to office, how has the Government transformed and revitalised Australia's economy?

Mr HAWKE —I think I thank the honourable member for his question. Given the list of our achievements, I cannot do justice to the question fully but let me just go to one or two features of our achievements. As the House has heard me say before, the first task we had in government was to rescue the country from the worst recession in 50 years which had been bequeathed to us by the Fraser-Howard Government. We did that, but from day one we were not content with just dealing with that immediate situation. We directed our attention to the fundamental task of restructuring the Australian economy.

I will remind the honourable member and the House of some of the sectoral plans that we undertook. The immediate and most important was for the steel industry. After seven years of conservative government this country was faced with a situation where the steel industry was going to disappear. We promised a steel industry plan within 100 days and very close to that we produced a steel industry plan which now has resulted in a very competitive steel industry. The steel industry plan has been followed by plans for the motor vehicle production industry, the heavy engineering industry, the ship building industry, the chemicals industry and, of course, the textile, clothing and footwear industry. Those plans have, at all times, been bolstered by the appropriate macroeconomic policies. I do not intend to continue, as I could, at great length on the economic achievements of this Government and the judgments that we make about the success of our policy.

I conclude, by summoning all the modesty I can to overcome my natural objections, by referring to what others say about us. It may not have escaped the attention of members opposite that analyses are being undertaken about the economic and political performance of this Government. This was detailed in the Melbourne Press of 4 May in a report of an economic and political analysis undertaken by Frost and Sullivan. The analysis looked at a number of countries around the world, including Australia. I find it difficult to refer to the headings, but I will. The article in the Sun, which is headed `Hawke Best-US report', says that according to the analysis it is quite clear that this Government will win the next election. The article in the Age of the same date is headed `Hawke will win-US analysts'. It is very interesting to see why that analysis is made. Part of the United States analysis is based on the belief that the economic policies that have been undertaken by this Government have been hugely successful. The article also points to another reason why we will win. It states:

. . . the Liberal leader's lack of electoral appeal will give the Australian Labor Party the edge.

We have a combination of our economic policy which has transformed the Australian economy and, fortunately, as an addition to our own positive achievements, the pathetic spectacle of an opposition led by a man who is increasingly without support within his own Party.