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Hawke's last chance

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John Hewson Leader of the Opposition M e d ia R e l e a s e

251/91 10 November 1991


This week's statement on jobs will be Mr Hawke's last chance to get it right and take decisive action to create real long-term employment opportunities instead of just worrying about his own job.

The last thing Australia needs now is a short-term, politically motivated program to pump a few hundred million dollars into the economy to create a few thousand transient jobs.

We don't want a repeat of Mr Hawke's numerous grandiose

statements of the past which have produced little lasting result. Remember Priority One?

Nor does Australia need jobs to be created at a greater cost to the community than the benefit of the wages paid. Each of the 1.5 million jobs about which Mr Hawke and Mr Keating have boasted incessantly cost Australia another $75,000 in foreign debt.

Anybody can borrow money and create jobs.

The hard part is to implement the policies which will

fundamentally alter the structure of Australia's economy, rebuild the private sector and make our country more competitive so that real and secure jobs can be provided.

This requires a commitment to policy decisions which the Hawke Government has consistently shirked, including:

. reform of the industrial relations system to introduce

genuine enterprise agreements outside the centralised system, so employers and employees can agree in their own interests on how best to increase productivity;

. reform of the taxation system to correct the over reliance on personal income tax which saps initiative and blunts the incentive to work harder, to earn more, to save and to


. micro-reform with teeth to cut through the delays and

obstructions to effecting genuine efficiency and

productivity gains in vital sectors of our economy, for example on the w a t e r f r o n t , transportation,

telecommunications and power generation;

COMMONWEALTH p a r l ia m e n t a r y library * MICAH

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. genuine fast tracking of a range of projects - "old ones"

like Coronation Hill, Wesley Vale and the third Sydney runway and "new ones" like the Marandoo iron ore mine in the Pilbara, the Yackabindi nickel deposit near Kalgoorlie and the Yabula nickel refinery at Townsville.

Over the past eight years, Mr Hawke has had dozens of

opportunities to take gutsy decisions in Australia's best interests but he has consistently failed to do so. Just since the last election, his Government has presented two Budgets and the 1991 March Economic Statement but none have produced the required result.

Mr Hawke has been given a breathing space by the announcement by Mr Keating and his henchman, Senator Richardson, that the Keating challenge is on hold. (Yet, if I were Bob Hawke, I wouldn't turn my back on those two for a moment.)

He must use this opportunity to present to Australia a plan that seriously addresses the fundamental problems which are besetting this nation and not just as an opportunity to shore up his

defences against Paul Keating's next attack.

It is a time to show real leadership and cast political

expediency aside.

The one million Australians who are unemployed demand nothing less.

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