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The Howard report

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NO: 71

I am overjoyed at the news that the Opposition is to come out on the major issue of this election - the economy.

With Australia now ranked as the world's best economic performer, the Government is of course keen to talk about its success story.

We are also keen to remind the electorate of what might be at stake if the management of the nation's affairs was returned to the economic vandals who did so much to cripple the country prior to the last election.

I have therefore catalogued for the purposes of comparison the record of the coalition parties in office and particularly the performance of the now Shadow Treasurer, Mr Howard.

Mr Howard was for five years in charge of economic policy and the Budget and remains accountable for the results of his administration.

He has frequently attempted to dodge the blame, saying that he was prevented from pursuing his favoured policies by an obstructive Cabinet.

Such an alibi is however no more than a confession of incompetence.

"The Howard Report" catalogues some of his failures.

It demonstrates the collapse of the economy during the five years to 1983 with increasing unemployment, inflation, interest rates, and wages and falling growth.

It also demonstrates the failure of his five Budgets.

In three of the five, the deficit blew-out.

In all five, his loose management resulted in over spending.

By 1983 the size of the public debt had doubled, adding $2 billion to the outlays and the deficit in our first budget.

By comparison, in our first Budget both the deficit and overall expenditure were less than the Budget estimate.

As well, we have taken a substantial step in reducing the deficit.

I find it laughable, having looked at Mr Howard's record, that any credence at all should be given to his views on likely Budget outcomes for 1985-86.

"The Howard Report" provides the essential background for those following the debate on the sound economic management of the nation.

Canberra 7 November 1984.