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Wednesday, 18 February 1987
Page: 190

Senator SIDDONS(4.59) —In the few minutes available I want to ask the following question: Do Australians really care about the future of their country? I challenge politicians in this place: Do they really care about the future of Australia? We have listened for two hours to a debate on the economy. I have heard very few concrete suggestions as to how this country should change its economic direction. A mini-Budget is fine, but one which gives us just more of the same medicine will not achieve anything. This country needs a 180-degree change of direction if it is to avoid disaster. We are charging at full speed to the brink of bankruptcy and nobody seems to be very worried about it. Nobody is debating concrete suggestions as to how we can change our direction.

Deregulation of the financial institutions has not worked, is not working and will never work. The Business Council of Australia recently said that we have to cut government spending by $3 billion. If it had said we should cut government waste by $3 billion, it may have been saying something. But the fact is that just last year we saw the spectacle of $5.5 billion going into the defence of, and attack on, the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Limited, without creating one additional job. There has been virtually no investment in new, productive resources in this country for the last decade. Unless we encourage financial investment in productive resources, resources that will create jobs, there is no future for this country. We must build an industrial base that is export oriented and can sell our products around the world. That requires co-operation between governments, business, trade unions and the work force generally. We have the model of Japan. In 40 years Japan has built an industrial machine that is the envy of the world. When we look at how the Japanese have done it we must ask whether we can do it too. Why can we not do it? Are we not as clever as the Japanese? What sorts of techniques do they use? Perhaps we could learn a few lessons. In the last 18 months since I re-entered the Senate I have been advocating concrete solutions to Australia's economic malaise. So far I have been a voice in the wilderness and still I see no debate, no concrete suggestions as to where we go from here.

Question put:

That the motion (Senator Chaney's) be agreed to.