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Unemployment: shifting the blame

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John Howard

NEWS RELEASE t, Member for BennelongShadow Minister for Industrial Relations & Manager of Opposition Business in the House 008/94


The Prime Minister's attack on the business community for not investing more is a blatant attempt to shift the blame for Australia's huge unemployment level from the Government to Australian businesses.

Paul Keating's high interest rates of the late 1980s caused both the recession and the human tragedy of approximately eleven percent of the workforce being unemployed.

Business did not cause the recession, the Prime Minister's failed policies as Treasurer were to blame.

Now Mr Keating wants the Australian public to swallow the line that unemployment remains high because the business sector has not used its improved profit performance to invest, thus creating more jobs.

He has completely ignored the fact that in the early stages of an economic recovery higher profitability is used in part to retire debt.

Worse still, he totally overlooked the contribution Australia's rigid industrial relations system has made to our very bad level of unemployment.

This situation will become worse at the end of this month when Laurie Brereton's new industrial relations bill passes into law. This bill will worsen unemployment by increasing the

cost of employing people, particularly in the small business sector.

The truth is that the Keating Government has no realistic policies to reduce long-term unemployment.

It is embarrassed by the biting criticism of the leaked OECD report which not only cast serious doubt on the Government's approach but slammed imposts such as payroll tax.

The only positive response in recent times from the Government has been to steal the Coalition's proposal for a training wage, which it had viciously attacked before the last election.




Not only is the prime Minister's attack on the business community an attempt to escape blame it also represents an incitement to the union movement to embark on a wages breakout which can only lead to still higher unemployment.

The President of the ACTU, Martin Ferguson, has been quick to join the Prime Ministerial chorus.

Finally, the Prime Minister seems oblivious to the fact that millions of Australian shareholders, most of whom are small and in many cases retired, are entitled - just occasionally -to a decent return on their investments.

After the ravages of the recession, which decimated the incomes of retired Australians in particular, it is quite reasonable that there be some return for them out of higher profits.

SYDNEY 18 March 1994