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Labor sacrificed international competitiveness for a failing accord



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MEDIA RELEASE 7 MARCH 1965

OPPOSITION SPOKESMAN ON TRADE HON. TOM MCVEIGH H. P .

LABOR SACRIFICED INTERNATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS FOR. A FAILING ACCORD — r— η -r— - ;

The Federal Opposition Spokesmen on T r a d e , Mr Tom McVeigh today

said the confused economic s t ra t e g y of the Labor Government is

In creasing not reducing the cost s t r u c t u r e of A u s t r a l ia n

I n d u s t r y . '

11 Labor has made no headway in h a l t i n g the s p i r a l l i n g wages and

decreasing p r o d u c t i v i t y which is causing an I n c r e a s in g l y dismal

trad e performance. "

" A u s t r a l i a ' s high cost s t r u c t u r e , in t r a n s i g e n t unions, e x o r b it a n t

taxes and Government c harges, counter p ro d u ctiv e wage system and low

commodity p r ic e s have put A u s t r a l i a out of c o m p e titiv e balance

with our t r a d in g p a r t n e r s . 1 1

Mr McVeigh said i n t e r n a t i o n a l com petitiveness had been s a c r i f i c e d

f o r the sake of a 1 l e a k y 1 Accord.

" The ALP-ACTU Accord and the r i g i d , c e n t r a l Ised wage f i x a t i o n

system Is a shroud over our economic problems. I f Mr Hawke is fin d in g

i t impossible to keep plugging the leaks In the Accord, how is the

Government going to take ac tio n to remove the i n f l a t i o n a r y e f f e c t s

of wage Indexation?"

" A u s t r a l i a w i l l not regain i n t e r n a t i o n a l com petitiveness u n t i l we

s t a r t using a d i s c r i m i n a t o r y c o l l e c t i v e bargainin g wages system based

on the c a p a c i t y of In dustry to pay."

" T h e Government e i t h e r does not understand the wage/cost equation

or is simply too hamstrung In the face of the unions and the

A r b i t r a t i o n Commission," Mr McVeigh sa id .

" This deal between big Government and big unions is operating at

the expense of our export in d u s t r ie s and the w e lf a r e of a l l

A u s t r a l i a n s . The f a l l i n g d o l l a r Is c o n f I r m a t 1 on of t h i s . "

" The f a l l i n g d o l l a r i s , In p a r t , an i n t e r n a t i o n a l Judgement on the

A u s t r a l i a n wage f i x a t i o n system. I t is an i n t e r n a t i o n a l Judgement on

the f a i l u r e of t h i s Government to m aintain a strong l i n e on monetary

p o l i c y and fo r abandoning I t s monetary t a r g e t s . I t Is a judgement on

the growing o v e r s e a s . and domestic debt s i t u a t i o n and the in t e r e s t

burdens t h a t w i l l r e s u l t . . "

Mr McVeigh s a i d , " At whichever section of the economy we look, there

is l i t t l e cause fo r confidence and even less f o r complacency

on t h i s Government * $ p a r t . 11

11 Over t he past y e a r , A u s t r a l i a has f a l l e n from t w e l f t h to s i x t e e n t h

p l a c e in Worl d r a n k i n g s o f n a t i o n a l c o m p e t i t i v e n e s s . We ar e

behi nd c o u n t r i e s l i k e New Z e a l a n d and the U n i t e d Ki ngdom. "

11 Mr Hawke' s Government has f a i l e d t o i n i t i a t e a f l e x i b l e wages p o l i c y

In response t o a changi ng economic e n v i r o n me n t because i t f e e l s

i t s t i l l ' owes * t o t he uni ons who h e l p e d get I t I n t o p o w e r . "