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Transcript of doorstop interview: Parliament House, Parliament House, Canberra: 2 May 1994

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Leader of the Opposition

V ?

2 May 1994 REF: TRANSCR\ab\0048



SUBJECTS: White Paper, Polls

Jm lst:

You're obviously not expecting a lot on Wednesday?

H e w s o n :

No I think we've had a Government that for eleven years has created the problem. It's hard to believe that they’ll know how to solve it and we’ve seen the Green Paper On Unemployment had nothing new in it but we hope on behalf of the people of Australia that they do do something about it because not only is unemployment continuing to

be the major issue in Australia but now the social consequences of unemployment, the impact that high unemployment has had on the crime rate and on family breakdown, on youth homelessness, on drug and alcohol abuse, they are the fundamental issues that are starting to really eat into the Australian society and I think the Government really has to do something about them.

So we hope we're wrong and we hope they will do something positive.

Jm lst:

Is that the emphasis on training?

H e w s o n :

Well, training is a very important part of it obviously but this Government has never been able to do anything but give us one of the best qualified dole queues in the world. I mean, you've got to create jobs as well as train people and retrain people, and they've shown no capacity to create jobs and we get the impression that a lot of

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

REF: TRANSCR\ab\0048 2.

the training has been misdirected, that people have ended up, sure, getting additional qualifications but unable to find work and I've met young people at Skillshares around Australia for example, where you've seen that they've done several courses, three or four or five separate courses and they still never got a job.

Jm lst:

What to you is the singularly most important thing that the employment statement should contain?

H ew so n :

Well it must, it obviously must show us how they're going to create jobs and how they're going to deal with the social consequences of unemployment, and particularly I guess long term unemployment which has gone up, rocketed up relative to the expectations that the Government was admitting to before the last election.

I hope that the Government can bring on Wednesday a change of policy. You see, the policies they've been following for eleven years have created a problem so in order to convince us that they are going to come up with a new response, they're going to have to demonstrate that they'll change policy - change their labour market policies,

change their industry policy, change their tax policy, change their interest rate and budget policy, accelerate the process of micro economic reform. I mean, all of that is fundamentally important to getting business investment going which is where the jobs are going to come from.

Jm lst:

You're saying that the social consequences and things like that are the most important in terms of the long term unemployed, and that's something you've been keen to push over the last few weeks but the latest polls would indicate that in fact, the electorate hasn't bought that.

H ew so n :

Well, which poll? You know, the polls are all giving a different story and they tend to but you know, polls go up and down. We're way ahead in one poll, double digit in one poll and we're line-ball in the other poll. I mean the polls are meaningless and you know, we'll wait and see what the Government does on Wednesday and what the

public reaction is to that.

Jm lst:

Are you confident that you'll be able to keep the focus on the Government through this session of Parliament?

REF: TRANSCR\ab\0048 3.

H e w so n :

Absolutely. We have the Government now bringing down two major statements - the employment statement which is going to incorporate the regional initiatives and the industry statement. We were going to get three statements at one stage. I gather we're only getting one now. But importantly too, we have the Budget and that will be scrutinised to see whether it brings the Budget deficit down because otherwise interest

rates are going to go up in this country and they're going to start to bite into the recovery and put it at risk. Now they are very important issues for this Government, a very important acid test on Keating and his leadership at a time where you know, he's obviously in very difficult circumstances. He's lost fifteen ministers in just over two years. Yes we will keep the fight to the Government and focus on the Government.