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Speech: Adamstown RSL



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UNDER EMBARGO - 2.30PM CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

SPEECH BY THE TREASURER OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

THE BCN JOBS KERIN

ADAMSTOHN RSL, ADAMSTOHN, 26 AUGUST 1991

PETER MORRIS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.

THE HUNTER REGION IS THE ECONOMIC HUB OF ONE OF OUR RICHEST RURAL AND MINERAL PRODUCING REGIONS. AND IT HAS A LONG HISTORY OF ADAPTING TO THE RIGORS OF A CHANGING WORLD.

IT IS ALSO A STRONGHOLD OF LABOR PRINCIPLES AND LABOR HISTORY. SO IT IS APPROPRIATE THAT I TALK HERE ABOUT A BUDGET THAT WILL REINFORCE THE RECOVERY WHILE CUSHIONING THE SHOCK OF THE RECESSION FOR PEOPLE ON LOW INCOMES.

I WOULD LIKE TO TALK TODAY ABOUT THE BUDGET, AND FOCUS ON SUPERANNUATION, MEDICARE AND BETTER CITIES - THE MAJOR REFORMS ANNOUNCED IN THE BUDGET.

BUT, FIRST OFF I WOULD LIKE TO MENTION A QUESTION I WAS ASKED ON SATURDAY NIGHT BY A YOUNG MAN IN PERTH: SINCE THE ASSETS PRICE BOOM HAD COLLAPSED AND, SINCE THE GOVERNMENT WAS INTENT ON HOSING INFLATION OUT OF THE ECONOMIC SYSTEM, HE SAID HE HAD NO WAY OF MAKING A PROFIT. WHAT WAS HE GOING TO DO?

I'LL COME BACK TO HIM LATER. BUT HE REPRESENTS THE CLASSIC VIEW OF THE 1980S AND ALL THAT WAS WRONG WITH IT.

THE TASK BEFORE THE GOVERNMENT IN FRAMING THIS BUDGET IS GENERALLY UNDERSTOOD.

IT IS THE BUDGET THAT ABSORBS THE FULL BRUNT OF THE FALLOUT FROM THE EIGHTIES. NOW WE CAN RECOVER AND GROWTH WILL INCREASE THROUGH THE YEAR.

WE CANNOT AFFORD TO FIRE-UP THE ENGINES NOW AND RISK IT EXPLODING ON US TWELVE MONTHS DOWN THE TRACK.

WHAT WE HAVE TO DO THEREFORE IS TO PROTECT OUR PEOPLE DURING THIS PERIOD.

WE HAVE TO PROVIDE FAMILIES WITH ASSISTANCE. .

WE HAVE TO PROVIDE THOSE LOOKING FOR WORK WITH TRAINING FOR THOSE NEW JOBS IN THE FUTURE.

THIS BUDGET DELIVERS ON THAT.

THIS BUDGET PROVIDES A SUBSTANTIAL INCREASE IN ASSISTANCE TO FAMILIES.

THIS BUDGET PROVIDES A SUBSTANTIAL INCREASE IN TRAINING AND SKILLS PROGRAMS.

THE FIRST IS LOCKED IN. IT MEANS THAT FAMILIES WILL CONTINUE TO RECEIVE THE BENEFITS IN THE YEARS TO COME.

THE SECOND IS THERE TO EASE INDIVIDUALS INTO EMPLOYMENT AS WE RECOVER DURING THIS YEAR.

THAT MEANS AUSTRALIANS, THROUGH THEIR CWN SKILLS, WILL GUARANTEE THE RECOVERY. AND THAT'S WHY THE GOVERNMENT HAS ALLOCATED $300 MILLION TO SEE AUSTRALIANS POSITIONED TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE RECOVERY.

[ COMMONWEALTH I PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY I MSCAH

THIS COUNTRY CANNOT AFFORD TO BE WITHOUT UNIVERSAL SUPERANNUATION.

THE AGING OF THE AUSTRALIAN POPULATION MEANS THAT, WITHOUT THIS REFORM, NO GOVERNMENT AND NO TAXPAYER WILL BE ABLE TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE INCOME SUPPORT TO RETIREES.

WITHOUT UNIVERSAL SUPER, WE WOULD SEE TWO CLASSES DEVELOP:

. THOSE WHO HAVE IT AND ARE DOING VERY NICELY, THANKS VERY MUCH; AND

. THOSE WHO WILL BE SECOND CLASS CITIZENS IN THEIR RETIREMENT. ,

THE SECOND CLASS, THE UNDER-CLASS, WOULD BE THOSE WHO WON'T HAVE SUPER, AND THEY WILL FIND IT TOUGH.

I REJECT THE NEGATIVE VIEW THAT SUPERANNUATION REFORMS WE HAVE ANNOUNCED WILL COST JOBS. THE FACTS DO NOT SUBSTANTIATE THIS.

THE BUDGET REFORMS SPREAD THE SYSTEM MAINLY TO THE BOTTOM END: THEY DO NOT ENTAIL A MASSIVE SHIFT. ALREADY 75% OF THE WORKFORCE ARE RECEIVING 3% SUPER. AND AROUND 30% ARE GETTING 5%

UNIVERSAL SUPER DOES TWO THINGS: ‘

1) IT GUARANTEES RETIREMENT INCOMES FOR THOSE WHO RECEIVE IT; AND

2) IT ENSURES THAT THOSE WITHOUT CAN BE PROPERLY PROTECTED IN THEIR RETIREMENT. .

LET ME TELL YOU HERE, THOSE FACTS CAN’T BE ARGUED AGAINST.

THE NEED FOR REFORM CAN'T BE ARGUED AGAINST.

THE TASK BEFORE US NOW IS TO ENSURE THAT THE TRANSITION ARRANGEMENTS ARE SENSIBLY HANDLED; AND TO ENSURE THAT THE TOTAL WAGE RESULT DOESN'T COMPROMISE THE RECOVERY.

THE GOVERNMENT IS COMMITTED TO INCREASED EMPLOYMENT AND REDUCED INFLATION.

THE GOVERNMENT IS COMMITTED TO ENSURING THAT THE TRANSITION DOESN'T COMPROMISE THOSE OUTCOMES.

IN SHORT, BOTH THE ACTU AND THE GOVERNMENT ARE COMMITTED TO THE EXACT SAME THINGS. . · . ...

ΜΕΠΤΓΑΒΚ , . ,

A LOT HAS BEEN MADE OF THE INTRODUCTION OF THE CO-PAYMENT. "

THE GOVERNMENT'S COMMITMENT TO MEDICARE IS ROCK-SOLID. .

AND THE GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE WAS THE INTRODUCTION OF A PACKAGE OF MEASURES TO ENSURE THAT AUSTRALIANS HAVE UNIVERSAL HEALTH PROTECTION INTO THE FUTURE: ,THE LEVY, CO-PAYMENTS, THE SAFETY NET AND THE REFORM OF DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES ARE PARTS OF THAT PACKAGE.

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YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THAT AUSTRALIANS CAN’T LIVE WITH THE CONSEQUENCES OF OVER-SERVICING:

THE COSTS OF OVER-SERVICING IN THE FUTURE WILL BE TOO HIGH, AND WILL MEAN THAT OTHER ESSENTIAL PROGRAMMES WILL HAVE TO BE CUT.

RAISING THE LEVY, AN INCREASED TAX, DOESN'T TACKLE THE PROBLEM OF OVER-SERVICING.

OVER-SERVICING HAS TO BE TACKLED AT SOURCE, WHICH MEANS THE CO-PAYMENT.

MUCH FOOLISH TALK HAS BEEN MADE ABOUT HOW THIS IS, IN EFFECT, A CONSUMPTION TAX ON HEALTH.

LET ME TELL YOU THIS: THE ALP REJECTS A CONSUMPTION TAX BECAUSE IT HITS HARDEST THOSE ON LOW-INCOMES, FAMILIES AND THE UNEMPLOYED. THE GOVERNMENT REJECTS A CONSUMPTION TAX BECAUSE IT IS REGRESSIVE.

THE CHANGES TO MEDICARE ARE NOT REGRESSIVE.

4.5 MILLION AUSTRALIANS ARE PROTECTED.

FURTHER, BY CHANGING THE SAFETY NET PROVISIONS, FAMILIES ARE BETTER PROTECTED.

IN OTHER WORDS, THOSE WHO CAN LEAST AFFORD TO PAY ARE COMPLETELY PROTECTED.

THE CHANGES TO MEDICARE ON BOTH THE SUPPLY AND DEMAND SIDES CEMENT IT IN AS THE BEST HEALTH INSURANCE SCHEME IN THE WORLD. '

AND I ’LL TELL YOU: THAT IS A MAJOR SYMBOL OF WHAT DIFFERENTIATES LABOR FROM THE CONSERVATIVES.

ΒΚΤΓΚΗ PITIES

A MAJOR LONG-TERM TASK FOR ALL GOVERNMENTS IS THE REFORM OF OUR CITIES.

INCREASINGLY, THOSE LIVING CM THE OUTSKIRTS ARE DENIED ACCESS AND OPPORTUNITY.

THE "AUSTRALIAN DREAM" HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE QUARTER-ACRE BLOCK.

BUT THE "AUSTRALIAN DREAM" IS NOW AN "AUSTRALIAN NIGHTMARE":

MILLIONS OF ACRES ARE NOW UNDER BRICKS AND MORTAR.

THE HUMAN AND FINANCIAL COSTS OF MAINTAINING A "MILLION CONCRETE ACRES" ARE NOW TOO HIGH.

DEVELOPMENT HAS OUTSTRIPPED THE CAPACITY OF GOVERNMENTS TO PROVIDE THE SERVICES WHICH AUSTRALIANS NEED.

OUR CITIES HAVE TO BE MADE BETTER: WE HAVE TO FOLD THE GROWTH INWARDS, AND, BY DOING SO, IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIFE FOR THOSE IN OUR URBAN AREAS.

THE COMMONWEALTH HAS ALLOCATED AROUND $800 MILLION FOR THIS PURPOSE. THAT’S A LOT OF MONEY, AND IT HAS TO BE WELL SPENT. THAT’S WHY THE PRIME MINISTER AND THE PREMIERS' AGREED TO THE EXAMINATION OF THIS IN JULY.

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MONEY ALONE WON’T MAKE OUR CITIES BETTER: THERE HAS TO. BE BETTER PLANNING, BETTER CO-ORDINATION OF SERVICES AND BETTER ORGANISATION OF EXISTING SERVICES AND FACILITIES. ON THIS THERE IS TOTAL AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE STATES AND THE COMMONWEALTH. ,

IN FACT, THE ONLY PERSON WHO DOESN'T AGREE IS JOHN HEWSON. AND THAT, I GUESS, IS HIS PROBLEM. . .

AS A FINAL COMMENT, I'LL JUST SAY THIS:

THE GOVERNMENT RECOGNISES THAT TIMES ARE TOUGH.

BUT THE RESPONSE OF THE GOVERNMENT IS A TRADITIONAL LABOR RESPONSE.

OUR RESPONSE ADDRESSES THE LONG-TERM REQUIREMENT FOR CHANGE, AND ACTS TO PROTECT OUR PEOPLE.

OUR FOCUS IS THE LONG-TERM, OUR POLICIES ARE FOR THE LONG-TERM.

AND THE REASON FOR THAT IS CLEAR.

IF WE DON'T, AS AUSTRALIANS, LOOK OUTWARDS AND ONWARDS THEN WE WILL STAY STUCK IN THE PAST. ' "

AND THAT, SIMPLY PUT, IS NOT AN OPTION FOR THE LABOR PARTY, FOR AUSTRALIA OR FOR AUSTRALIANS.

BEFORE I CONCLUDE, I ’D LIKE TO GO BACK TO THE YOUNG MAN IN PERTH, WHO SAID HE COULD NOT MAKE MONEY WITHOUT AN ASSETS PRICE BOOM OR INFLATION.

THE MOST DISTURBING THING IS - HE WAS MORE THAN HALF SERIOUS.

UNLESS HE CAN ADAPT, HE IS GOING TO FIND IT DIFFICULT TO SUCCEED IN AUSTRALIA IN THE NINETIES. IN THIS, HIS POSITION CAN BE SEEN TO BE SYMBOLIC OF AUSTRALIAN BUSINESS AS A WHOLE.

I AM CONFIDENT THAT AUSTRALIAN BUSINESS CAN MEET THIS CHALLENGE. THE EIGHTIES TAUGHT US LESSONS, AND SHOWED THAT THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF ENERGY AND DESIRE IN THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY.

IN THE NINETIES, THIS HAS TO BE BETTER DIRECTED. '

THE BUDGET SETS THE SCENE FOR A SUSTAINABLY LOW INFLATION AND A SUSTAINABLE RECOVERY. THE CHALLENGE IS BEFORE THE YOUNG BUSINESSMAN OF PERTH AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES, IN FACT ALL AUSTRALIANS, TO WORK THROUGH THE RECOVERY TOGETHER, TO SHOW THEY CAN MAKE IT IN THIS ENVIRONMENT.

I KNOW WE CAN DO IT. , .

SO, THE FINAL MESSAGE THEN FROM ME IS THIS: AUSTRALIA WILL SUCCEED.