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Thursday, 5 May 1994
Page: 325

Senator PATTERSON —I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. How many, if any, additional, permanent, non-subsidised, sustainable full-time jobs will Australians get for their $6 1/2 billion?

Senator GARETH EVANS —What we are talking about in this particular package, as would have been apparent from the statement put down last night, is achieving a situation of 1 1/2 million more jobs by the year 2001 and an unemployment rate within the range approaching five per cent, or hopefully better than that. That is the particular target that we are chasing; and we believe, for all the reasons that I spelt out and for some additional reasons that Senator Cook was starting to spell out, that that kind of target is achievable.

  Senator Hill interjecting

Senator GARETH EVANS —It is not a matter of redistribution; it is a matter of generating new momentum into the Australian economy. It is not just a matter of equity; it is not just a matter of social justice; it is a matter of creating a new pool of better trained, more skilled and employable people who can make a direct contribution to economic growth through all the macro-economic mechanisms that I spelt out. It is also a matter of realising that the scope is there, the potential is there now, and the policy settings are in place for a massive increase in business investment in this country.

  Those opposite should know from reading the terms of the white paper what the elements of that business investment incentive list are. There is a cut in the tax rate for pooled development funds from 25 per cent to 15 per cent on the income derived from investments in small and medium-sized enterprises and the easing of the operating restrictions on those funds. There is a modification of the tax treatment in infrastructure bonds by, in effect, giving investors the option of a 33 per cent tax break to encourage private sector investment in infrastructure with an extension of eligibility in the area of aviation, electricity, gas and water facilities. There is funding for some specific capital works projects.

  There is the promotion of international linkages, not only domestically through the regional headquarters program but through a whole raft of policy initiatives in the trade and foreign affairs portfolio, including new posts in Kazakhstan, Ho Chi Minh City, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. There are new investment promotion jobs identified and located in the United States and Singapore, more resources in Hong Kong and New York, a special investment representative to lead investment missions to Asia and America, the international trade enhancement scheme, an extended EMDG scheme—all ways that are designed to generate more exports and, as a result of those more exports, more growth in the domestic economy and more jobs flowing from that growth. That is the equation that this government has been about.

  Those opposite have never begun to understand the nexus between exports and growth and jobs. That is the way it is happening. We are building on an environment where we have a company tax rate of 33 per cent compared with the coalition's at 42 per cent. We have rapidly enhanced depreciation arrangements. We have a massive program of micro-economic reform involving deregulatory measures, tariff reductions and industrial relations measures which have led to fewer disputes than in the last 42 years.

  We have a whole raft of industry specific measures, all creating an environment where profit share now is the highest that it has ever been in this nation's history, where interest rates are at their lowest level for 20 years, where inflation is way under two per cent and totally under control, where there have been solid gains in productivity and a 30 per cent increase in competitiveness over the last 10 years, where there is ample evidence of a pick-up in consumer confidence and demand, and where that confidence is at the highest level it has been for a decade.

  In that environment with those policy settings, at the same time addressing the pool of the long-term unemployed, if we cannot by that combination of strategies generate 1 1/2 million new jobs by the turn of the century, we are simply not trying. We will certainly be trying a hell of a lot harder than those opposite have ever been able to do.