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Transcript of Dr John Hewson mp launch of Australia 2000 -"Australians speak" Sydney

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Leader o f the Opposition

6 September 1991 REF: TRANSCR\NM\S0027



Thank you very much David Connolly, Parliamentary Colleagues, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am very pleased today to be here to receive and officially launch "Australians Speak”. As David said Australia 2000, as a project, had its genesis in the last election. There were

some very clear messages in the last election if politicians were listening - very much a plague on both the Houses of the major parties in Australia. People were disenchanted with

politicians. People were genuinely concerned about the operation of the political process and, of course, they are particularly concerned about the direction in which our country has been heading and indeed, as David said to use his word, the drift that has occurred in a country which has

tremendous natural resources and tremendous opportunities.

It also had very particularly clear lessons, I think, for the Liberal Party. We had lost four elections on the trot and so we needed to rebuild our Party and re-think our policies from the bottom up. There are three bricks in our rebuilding.

There is unity. There is a sense of direction and, of course, the policies. We put the unity issue behind us early on. We now work as a very effective team of people and quite frankly the magnitude of this task could not have been done with out that sort of team work.

It is great to see people who are all putting their shoulders uniformly now to the task and as I say unity has been achieved and will be secured.

The direction comes, I think, importantly by starting with a capacity, a willingness to talk to the people of Australia. So we came up with the idea of Australia 2000. We had a

strategic objective. We believe that Australia should aim to be a major economic and political force in our region, in our part of the world, in the Asia Pacific region by the Year


We wanted to give people an opportunity to come back to us with what they thought Australia ought to look like by the Year 2000. So we sent out hundreds of thousands of letters and various other forms of contacts to a whole cross-section

Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 Phone 277 4022 COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MIC AH


of the people of Australia. I will just give you some idea of who we contacted so you can see how broadly based it was. We contacted all secondary schools, public and private, and their responses will be published in a separate report. We

contacted more than 200 environmental interest groups, Law Societies and Bar Associations, accountancy organisations, Chambers of Commerce, more than one thousand ethnic clubs and organisations, church organisations. We contacted more than

200 women's organisations, welfare organisations, pensioner groups, organisations for people with disabilities, all Local Governments, all trade organisations that have a major publication. We contacted the top one hundred companies and then more broadly right through the business community. We contacted the RSL and in particular RSL Head Offices. We contacted University Vice-Chancellors and many thousands and

thousands of ordinary Australians.

So we went into it to make it a very genuine effort and to give people a chance to respond. I've been delighted with the magnitude of the response and the amount of work that some people have done. We've had letters back from big business people, letters back from small business people. We've had

letters from the aged, young people and some of the school responses have been phenomenal - whole classes individually writing back to us.

So we have a very clear view of a lot of the views and

concerns of average Australians. As we say it is a report on the concerns, the hopes and the aspirations of the Australian people. We are well on the way to setting a sense of

direction. It is an important part of our whole strategy.

When we started fifteen months ago, as I said, we had our own rebuilding to do internally in the Party. We started our review of policy and we started Australia 2000, We had always aimed to bring Australia 2000 out about now, even though it will continue to be a process from here on in as well and

there may well be other reports. We are still getting

responses flooding in. But we are using it also as a backdrop to the policy details, which 1 know some of our friends in the media are looking for, as we have committed will be brought down between now and Christmas.

If you listen to what the people of Australia say through their words in this document you get a very clear snap shot, if you like, of the mood of Australia here at the beginning of the last decade of this century. .

It is also a genuine commitment to make change, change policies and to accept policy change, to change attitudes and to change behaviour in order to change our country. And that

is what this is all about. So I am very pleased with what we have and I hope you find it as useful a process as we have as you read it.


Many people in this room, of course, have contributed directly by way of their own letters and contributions, or have participated in public meetings. But I must recognise the particular contribution of my colleague David Connolly, who has operated as Director of this project. He has done a

fantastic job. I don't know how many of you actually know David personally. David has a capacity to sustain pressure. He has a capacity to get more out of you than you imagine you were prepared to give. I wouldn't go as far as saying he can be a nuisance at times, but he sure makes his presence felt. And this process is a good example of David Connolly in

action, let me tell you. I commend you David, for the

tremendous work that you personally have put into this.

I would also like to thank your staff, Jenny Higgs, Catherine Davies and Jan Holmes - the latter two who worked particularly in organising this launch, and Jenny Higgs of course, who has been full-time on Australia 2000. There is some suspicion that maybe she was stirring David up as well. It's great.

Let me finish by simply saying that of course, political parties really shouldn't just respond to public opinion. We can't be exclusively driven by public opinion, but we have to be prepared to listen to what people have to say to us. We believe that this document does that. We believe that a lot of the hopes and aspirations of the people of Australia will be addressed in our policy package that will be announced, as

I say, between now and Christmas.

We are all interested in building a better country, and the thousands and thousands of Australians who have responded to us are prepared to make the effort. We'll do our part by putting the policies in place that have to be put in place to

turn the country around, even if some of those are going to be difficult to explain and difficult to get people on side. But the mood is there. People are willing to do things


Thank you very much.