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Misplaced trust in a labor government



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ANDREW P E A C O C K ^ Leader of the Opposition x '

MISPLACED TRUST IN A LABOR GOVERNMENT

The Federal Opposition Leader, Mr Andrew Peacock, said today the experience of the first two months of the second Hawke Labor Government was a lesson in deception.

The Opposition Leader was speaking at the opening of the Monash Province Campaign Office in.Melbourne for the Victorian State election.

"The marked differences between the rhetoric of the ALP during the December 1 election campaign and its performance since raises the whole question of trust in Labor's promises," he said.

"It is a question Victorian voters should have uppermost . in their minds when they go to the polls in the State election on March 2. _

"If a Federal Labor Government cannot be expected to keep to its promises - even those most dear to the grass roots of its own membership - what hope is there for a State Government," he said.

Mr Peacock said that in the first two months of the Hawke Labor Government there were signs of division and factional strain which were the hallmark of all Labor Governments.

"Since the last Federal election, the Labor Government in Canberra has been marked by division between ALP factions, State and Federal Labor Governments and the Prime Minister and his Ministerial and Caucus colleagues," he said.

"The divisions have been clear in such issues as Aboriginal land rights, ANZUS, government spending proposals and Mr Hawke's dictatorial manner with his own Ministers."

But Mr Peacock said the most important lesson to be learned from the last two months of the Federal Labor Government was the difference between the stance taken during the election campaign and the Government's subsequent actions. .

"Labor has still failed to rule out a new capital gains tax, death duties, gift duties and wealth taxes, and is intent on pursuing them at the July Tax Summit," he said.

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"During the December 1 election campaign, the Government claimed an unbeatable record in economic mangement, but has not yet been properly tested in that field.

"As the former Finance Minister and present Trade Minister, Mr Dawkins has admitted, the Government has ridden on the coat-tails of the previous Government's wages pause, the breaking of the drought and the international economic recovery.

"The Treasurer, Mr Keating, gave assurances during the election campaign that interest rates would continue to fall, yet we are now in the position of interest rates rising," he said.

"At the same time, he has sacrificed credibility in the economic area with his decision to abandon the Government's money growth targets on the flimsiest of excuses."

Mr Peacock said the Government was still causing hardship and undue concern to pensioners with the imposition of the Assets Test and to retirees through the 31 per cent lump sum Super tax.

"Medicare is proving to be costly and inefficient with queues growing at public hospitals around the country and the doctors dispute in NSW no closer to solution," he said.

"The Prices and Incomes Accord - the touchstone of the Government's .industrial relations policy - is showing signs of greater strain as month by month passes by.

"It is being challenged in the public servants dispute and in the increasing demands for superannuation, and wage and other demands outside the wage fixing guidelines."

Mr Peacock said that during the election campaign, Mr Hawke made much of the Government's strike record, yet since his Government was returned to office strikes have proliferated.

"So much so, that when the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr Nakasone was in Australia recently, the disastrous Hunter Valley train drivers strike was harming Australia's coal exports to Japan," he said.

"Throughout it all the Federal Government seemed powerless to do anything, despite its professed special relationship with the trade union movement and the existence of the Accord," .

Mr Peacock said the record of the Hawke Labor Government in Canberra since the December 1 election was one of crisis following crisis, without any constructive Government action.

"There is no reason to believe that a further term for the Cain Government in Victoria would be any different," he said.

"The Cain Government has presided over the biggest increase in taxes and charges of any Victorian Government and has been inept in its management of the State. ’

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"Labor Governments, whether Federal or State, are long on rhetoric and short on action," he said.

"If Victorians want a repeat of the deception of the Federal Government at the State Level, then they should vote Labor; if they want sound Government they should vote for Jeff Kennett and the Liberal Party," he said.

"It can be seen that much of what the Federal Government said during the election campaign was either exaggerated or simply downright wrong," Mr Peacock said. .

"But there is plenty more that is going to prove to be overstated or wrong in the months ahead.

"For example, during the election campaign, the Prime Minister made much of his economic trilogy - growth in Government spending to be no more than the rate of growth in the economy, no overall tax increase as a proportion of GDP,and a reduction of the Budget

deficit in money terms.

"As the Opposition pointed out during the campaign, Mr Hawke is going to have great trouble keeping these promises, and he has tried to back away from them ever since.-"But the Opposition will not forget that these promises were made during the campaign and neither will the Australian people," Mr Peacock said. '

"We will continue to monitor the decisions of the Hawke Government and expose it for what it is - a Government a lot less concerned with the truth than with its public image."

4 February 1985.

WHAT THE GOVERNMENT SAID:

CAPITAL GAINS TAX:

Labor failed to rule out a capital gains tax, suggesting that it would depend on the outcome of the Tax Summit.

ASSETS TEST:

Labor denied the harshness and inequities of the Assets Test and pledged to keep it in place. "The Assets Test will effect only two per cent of all pensioners," Mr Hawke said. (Policy Speech, Nov 13).

RESOURCES BOOM:

Mr Hawke said during the election campaign that there would be a $15 billion resources boom.

SMALL BUSINESS:

Labor promised incentive plans for small businesses including loans for those people wanting to start small business and were now on the dole.

WHAT THE OPPOSITION SAID:

The Liberal and National Party Coalition partners explicitly ruled out a new capital gains,tax, as well as any wealth tax, gift

duties or the re-introduction of death duties.

The Coalition said that later experience would show that the Assets Test would affect a far greater number of people. It pledged to abolish Labor's Assets Test.

The Opposition said that Mr Hawke's claimed recources boom was irresponsible. That with world commodity prices

stagnating there was little chance of a resources boom.

The Coalition offered small business tax cuts on a gradual basis to enable them to keep increased funds in the business

for new investment.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE

The Labor Government still has a capital gains tax on its agenda for the Tax Summit in July. Senior Ministers in the Government

support the introduction of such a tax.

Despite Government denials, there is evidence of the Assets Test casting a wider pensioner net. There are still doubts about how much money it will raise. The Opposition is still pledged to

remove it.

Low world commodity prices are affecting the profitability Of Australia's major resource companies. While, this is occuring there is little chance of a resources boom.

Labor has done nothing for small business, despite promises now having been made in not one, but two, Federal elections.

WHAT THE GOVERNMENT SAID:

ANZUS: .

Labor said it supported a strong ANZUS and was committed to the US alliance. "We have made ANZUS, more than it ever has been, a

close and effective partnership, in which our views, even when they differ, are firmly and frankly expressed and mutually respected," Mr Hawke said. (Policy Speech, Novefnber 13).

INTEREST RATES:

Labor maintained throughout the election campaign that not only had nominal interest rates come down, that interest rates,

including housing * rates, would continue to come down. "Now, the fact is there is scope, I believe for further falls in interest rates," Mr Keating said. (Sunday Program, 4 Nov 1984).

TAX SUMMIT:

Mr Hawke (from the idea of a radio announcer) said there would be a tax summit. It would be in the third quarter

of.the year. He said he would seek the views of a wide .

section of the community. Mr Keating said there would be a Government white paper produced.

WHAT THE OPPOSITION SAID:

The Liberal and National Party Coalition said ANZUS was at the heart of Australian foreign policy and defence. The Coalition

strongly supported ANZUS and the US alliance.

The Opposition maintained that not only had interest rates not fallen significantly in nominal terms, but that real interest rates (after taking account of

inflation) were among the highest in the world.

The Opposition said the tax summit merely exposed the Government's lack of a tax policy. Pointed out that the White Paper contradicted Mr Hawke's claim for wide

consultation without pre­ conceived ideas.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE:

Labor has failed (except for one letter) to intervene in the greatest crisis affecting A$ZUS and the US alliance since its

formation - New Zealand's decision to ban US ships. It has failed to take steps to negotiate a bilateral agreement with the US

if ANZUS fails. Mr Hawke is now travelling to the US in a belated attempt to reassure our US allies.

Real interest rates have continued to be amongst the highest in the world. There is no sign of nominal interest rates falling further on the general market and certainly no sign of a fall in housing

interest rates. There might even be a rise in the immediate future. .

The tax summit has become a a farce. It will be held in the first days of the third quarter. It is showing all the signs of becoming a publicity

stunt, and little more than a rubber stamp for Labor's tax proposals.

WHAT THE GOVERNMENT SAID:

LAND RIGHTS LEGISLATION:

Labor's attitude to land rights legislation was total confusion, with Federal legislation in the pipeline. There was particular confusion over

the mining veto. "The general position of the Government is that we don't believe that the right of veto is an integral part of having effective, fair and efficient land rights legislation," Mr Hawke said. (Perth, Oct, 1984).

THE PRICES AND INCOMES ACCORD:

Labor continued to maintain that the Accord was the key to industrial peace. "We

pledge ourselves to maintain the Accord and all the benefits that flow from it," Mr Hawke said (Policy Speech, Nov 13). Labor claimed it would continue to moderate

union claims and promote industrial peace.

WHAT THE OPPOSITION SAID:

The Opposition said that land rights legislation remained the province of the States. It maintained that there was basic

disagreement between the State and Federal Governments on the issue.

The Coalition said the Accord was being breached and in danger of crumbling. That it was being interpreted broadly

to stave off 'disputes, but without concern about the the future of the economy and international competitiveness.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE:

Confusion still reigns over the Federal Government's· attitude to land rights legislation, including whether there will be uniform Federal land rights legislation. There has already been a public brawl between the Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Mr Holding, and

the WA Premier, Mr Burke on the issue. Still the Australian public does not know what the Labor Government's real policy is.

Industrial demands and unrest since the election highlight the vulnerability of the Accord. The ongoing public servants

dispute, the train drivers actions, the, food preservers union deal and demands for a 36 hour week in the publishing

industry all highlight the flaws in the Accord. Still to come are the December quarter wage indexation decision and the productivity increase case.

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WHAT THE GOVERNMENT SAID:

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT:

Labor showed no concern for the young unemployed and, because of its close association with the trade union movement, failed to offer any ideas to help the unemployed ahead of those

already in employment.

PLEASE NOTE: THIS LIST IS NOT MEANT STATEMENTS MADE BY THE AND SINCE PROVEN TO BE IS MERELY TO GIVE SOME

WHAT THE OPPOSITION SAID:

The Opposition offered innovative plans for youth unemployed including its "Workprep" and "Education Bank" programmes.

It also urged the examination of youth wage rates as a potential cause of youth unemployment .

TO BE A DEFINITIVE OUTLINE OF THE GOVERNMENT DURING THE ELECTION INACCURATE OR WRONG. ITS PURPOSE EXAMPLES. . .

WHAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE:

The Government has received three reports on youth . unemployment and related 'issues and still fails to do anything about it. Once again, after one discussion in Cabinet, it has been confined to the too-hard basket.