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Transcript of edited interview with Diana Russell Coote, ABC AM program



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PRIME MINISTER

TRANSCRIPT OF EDITED INTERVIEW WITH DIANA RUSSELL COOTE, ABC AM PROGRAM - 7 OCTOBER 1991

E & OE - PROOF ONLY

PM: It's already started to come out. The evidence, particularly in the housing industry, certain production statistics particularly some associated with the housing industry and the evidence of the Department of Employment, Education and Training's statistics on skilled vacancies - they are all constant with the beginnings of recovery. It's not a massive recovery but we're coming off the bottom.

RUSSELL COOTE: When do you expect Australia to be fully out of the recession then?

PM: Well the Budget forecasts are based upon an assumption of through the year growth of three and three quarter per cent in GDP and so I think the economy will be really moving by the end of this financial year.

RUSSELL COOTE: On the economy and specifically on employment, the Victorian Trades Hall Secretary, John Halfpenny has criticised Treasury's economic policies saying they've failed and that the Government should shift its

focus away from inflation. Is that likely to happen?

PM: John Halfpenny knows that I'd never be directly or indirectly rude to him but I know that he won't take it amiss if I suggest that I don't regard John as an authority on economic matters. I welcome from the ACTU their expression of concern about the employment market and that's why I said to the ACTU - which is who I deal with in the trade union movement - that we will welcome them coming to

see us with any specific proposals they have and indeed later this month that's precisely what they'll be doing.

RUSSELL COOTE: One of the specific proposals Mr Halfpenny has made is a pro-economic statement for early next year. Would the Government look at that?

PM: Well again I don't intend any rudeness to John Halfpenny but John Halfpenny is not the person with whom I deal, I deal with the ACTU and we have both a formal and an informal mechanism for those relations and that's working and will continue to work.

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RUSSELL COOTE: Would you look at an economic statement early next year?

PM: Well since we've been in Government, since March of 1983, there have been many occasions, the majority of the years we've been in, there has been a statement in the early part of the year. I hope it comes as no surprise, that hasn't been as a result of the initiative of John Halfpenny.

RUSSELL COOTE: Can you see a growth in employment then next year?

PM: Yes employment will grow.

RUSSELL COOTE: Do you have any specific figures that -\

PM: No. It'd be silly. It'd be silly to put those figures on. There are too many variables to be precise about it. The important thing for my fellow Australians to know is that the policies are in place, they're working to achieve what we had to do. Firstly, in the first phase of it to

slow things down and that' s been done but now in a way where we have increasingly competitive low inflation export oriented economy. That will continue to be reflected throughout the rest of this financial year and into the next one.

RUSSELL COOTE: On the question of interest rates you said you won't be discussing them or dropping them. What other indicators would you need before you'd look at dropping them?

PM: Well that's almost equivalent to, you know, to saying when we would. The only responsible thing for a Prime Minister or a Treasurer to say is what I 've continued to say. And our record proves it. I mean,, we've brought them down eight and a half percentage points since January of

last year. We continue to look at a range of indicators and when we judge it appropriate to move then we move and that's how you conduct policy. You're quite irresponsible if you start throwing around signs or hints or indications in

advance. I mean, that can only be of advantage to speculators.

RUSSELL COOTE: Paul Keating has suggested that they should be lowered. Is he irresponsible?

PM: No, I'm not saying he's irresponsible because he's not the one that's making the decisions and so you have a whole range of people who are not in Government making decisions. I mean, you have some people in the trade union movement, you have some employers, you have National Farmers, you have

a whole lot of people saying what should happen to interest rates, some saying it would be grossly irresponsible to lower them. You look at some of the editorials: Hawke must hold his nerve, don't ease things off too quickly. I mean, this is part of the stuff of political and economic, you know, commentary, it's part of the democracy of which you

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live. It's alright for those people to do it but the ones who are going to be making the decisions I don't think it's responsible for them to be throwing hints around in advance of what we may or may not do.

RUSSELL COOTE: Should Mr Keating as Simon Crean has suggested put up or shut up?

PM: Well look I'm not really in the business of advising Paul how to conduct himself. You know, he's got to make his own decisions about that.

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