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Transcript of Mr P K Reith MP Canberra, 12 December 1991 commenting on the record unemployment figures

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Deputy Leader of the Opposition


PKR: These are the worst unemployment figures since the depression and Labors response is simply to be concerned about one job and that's the Prime Ministers job. This country is enduring huge social distress. Many Australians are looking for leadership and we have a totally destabilised Government, and, no sense of direction from this Government whatsoever. At a time of crisis for many Australian families, these people cannot, for a

moment, turn themselves to the great problems facing Australia. Their only interested in their own internal factional fighting, the bitter divisions which are evident within the Government today.

It is time for a change, some sweeping reforms, and one of the things we ought to be doing is to abolish payroll tax, Labors tax on employment. That would, at least, give this country and Australians some prospect of a job in the future.

There are a number of figures worth looking at but, of course, the youth unemployment figure is 31 per cent and that is an indictment on this Government and really saps those young people with any confidence for the future. Those young people will be scarred for life as a result of this Government's incompetence.

The second figure I would highlight is the 11.5 per cent unemployment figure for those looking for full-time work and that's a tragedy in itself, for those, literally, hundreds of thousands of Australians who are looking for the dignity of work and the prospects of maintaining their living standards through work. So it is time for some change and this

country is desperately needing a sense of direction and from Labor we have no response but there own personal introverted factional in-fighting.

J: (inaudible)

PKR: Well, the figures are simply evidence of the continuing difficulties in the Australian economy. We still have high real interest rates.

J: (inaudible)

PKR: I'm referring to the seasonally adjusted figures and there the trend series is still for unemployment to climb and I think these figures, properly, ought to send a shock wave through the Government. It ought to jolt them into some concern for the unemployed and a set of policies which would offer this country some sense of hope, some glimmer of hope

as we go into next year.

J: Wouldn't you rather they carried on with the way they are going, leaderless and ruddiness?

PKR: Well, its no consolation to those who are unemployed to see that a time of desperate need for some leadership, that the Government is totally unable to provide any sense of leadership whatsoever.

J: Will these figures help Paul Keating over-throw Bob Hawke?

PKR: Well, they should give no cause to assist Mr Keating, he, of course, is the Mr Recession of Australian politics and as Senator McKiernan properly said, there's 900,000 reasons here why people should never vote for Paul Keating. These figures disqualify both Mr Hawke and Mr Keating from the top job in Australian politics.

Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 * * *

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