Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
NSW Liberal party dinner, Sydney

Download PDFDownload PDF

4 , . A U S T R A L I A ti>


FOR PRESS ■ . . : 4 APRIL j37?


There are times,I believe, during the course of an election when the people of a nation make fundamental choices about the sort of country they want to live in, A choice of one party over another at such watershed elections maps out the future; it determines whether some alternatives

are made more difficult to take up in the future. '

This is a point which all of us, as Liberals, are conscious of. We knew that it is not easy to limit the power of the State ,

after it has developed past a certain point. It is not easy

to restore the conditions necessary for individual initiative and enterprise after they have been beaten down for a prolonged period

It is not easy to get State governments to accept responsibility after they have been long deprived of it. It is not easy to

quickly restore the private sector to health after it has been stifled into stagnation and despair.

Watershed elections mark the point at which decisive choices are made. " 1949 was such an election. In that year, Australian voters voted firmly against nationalisation and government by regulation, Had that choice not been m a d e , then it would have

been increasingly difficult to make later.

The capacities uponnwhich Australia depended for progress and growth, the intiative and creativity of the Australian people, would have been undermined.

1975 was another watershed election. The power of the Labor government," and its intrusion into more and. more areas of Australian life was increasing. The economic malaise which Labor had thrown A u s t r a l i a . into, was growing deeper.

All Australians were gravely damaged by Labor approach. In Labor1 s last "two -years, ~pe rs is ten t inflation of over 36 percent; unemployment had trebled; wages had grown enormously;

average earnings in manuracturing industry had grown percent: in. the two years to October ] 975; company profitability w a s d i s a s t r o u s ; the deficit was out of control; there"was a record.level of industrial disputes. Far worse than, in 1975; Government was printing money at an excessive rate; there was a major shift of resources from the private to the public


those 'least able /to defend themselves - the poor, the unemployed, those on fixed-incomes - suffered cruelly. The Labor Party has not learned from the damage they caused to many areas of our life. Only a few days, ago, Mr Whitlam made a proposal · .

that would effectively mean all women under 50 would be given unemployment benefits. This would cost $3,300 million,’

A. cost all Australiasn. would have to pay for in terms of increased, taxes or higher inflation.

The Liberal National Country Party Government has now been in office for fifteen months. This has not been long enough to redress all the damage inflicted by Labor. It has been long ^ enough, to make a start in restoring the private sector to vifabi Cb-j and health, A start to reducing inflation. A start in halting

uneontrolled growth of the public sector in this country. A n d the strat we have made has been a substantive one.

Fundamental to the progress whxch has been made Is the principle that the only sure road to full economic recovery is the revival strong innovative private enterprise. To g o this, we have implemented a proper monetary policy. We have argued strongly before the Arbitration Commission for the wage restraint which is essential to reducing inflation. We have an appropriately balanced .

external policy, W e have pursued a responsible budgetary policy ' The growth of "the public sector has been halted, On current estimates, the proportion of gross national product attributable to the Commonwealth will fall this financial year

The rapid growth of the C o m m n w a a l t h public service has been re vers ecj By reducing staff ceilings, we will have cut the number of · CoBsaonwsalth government employees by 3 4,000 by June this year- Coup axed to M r Whitlam's staff callings this is a reduction o f 33,000.

W e lave made major taxation reforms. In fifteen months, we have established a record in this area of which any Liberal can be prpuct


76/77 ?7/7$

Personal income tax indexation Investment allowance Company tax indexation: trading stock valuation adjustment .

Taxation of income from mining and petroleum Distribution requirements for private companies Estate duty (spouse deduction) Income -.equalisation deposit

990 1050

loo 450


0 ■ 40

1 25

2 10

17 iO .

1110 1985

ί? -year, these amount to tax reforms' amounting t-o

* .xhe- re5ults of our policies are already b*coni«a

l e v e l f o ^ S e w l ' s ™ economic growth matches tie '

' -:There-W8^'--a-'-siQTiifi-caflt--i-i!tpr<>^emenfc-i-ir- the”Tste "of inflation - * the most reliable figures we h a w available showed an inflation

A a t e of 10,7 percent, compared with a rate of around 16 percent~$n*"XVj

A start has been made - a good start. But both inflation and

unemployment must be reduced further. The recovery, cs£ which the early signs are now apparent, must be sustained and consolidated. We are coordinating all the arms of economic policy controlled by government - fiscal, monetary . external policy. To ensure that the downward trend in the

underlying rate of inflation which we have achieved in 1976, is maintained* For the defeat of inflation is the esential pre-requisite for employment and long term economic growth. There is another area where the government has, introduced

major new initiatives - 1 refer to our new policies of Federalism/

The Whit,lam Government believed that all problems were best solved by the all-knowing Commonwealth Government, Labor was not prepared to leave decisions of importance to the States, Just as were not prepared to leave to individual Australians choices . affecting their own lives.

The Whitlasi Government, consistent with their ideology, were thoroughgoing centralists.

They used all the''Commonwealth's power to intervene in fields which had previously been the. preserve of the States, We have introduced a new Federalism policy which has reversed the inexorable- slide towards ever increasing Commonwealth domination— '-- -

Central to this policy is our initiative of tax sharing. The State now receive a fixed percentage <33.6%) of personal income tax receipts, Stage II of the tax sharing arrangements will be the subject of discussion with the States at the Premier’s

Conference next week, It will enable each State to impose a surcharge· or grant a rebate, on personal income tax collected by the Commonwealth. ■ · · . .

Tax sharing will give the states a greater autonomy and capacity to meet their responsibilities. It will also make them more accountable, The states will be able to set their own priorities, They have received generous grants from the C o m m o n w e a l t h this year

and a far higher proportion of these are untied, This gives increased independence to the States," And also increased responsibility.

--- It a State chooses t-o give a high priority tq a*-particular new project, or grant a new tax concession, that is its right. But it will have to justify its priority to^_its citizens. No longer will states be able to blame the (Commonwealth for their - - own deficiencies^ -And-that— i-s-the-way it should" 1>et

• Our commitment to Federalism extends far beyond financial matters. --In- a wide range of matters, the Commonwealth has been ready to / consult and cooperate with the States. An excellent example is

our recent preliminary agreement with the States on companies - and the securities industry, VJhiie many details have yet to be finalised, it has been agreed that a National Companies and Securities Commission be established. This much-needed reform has 4 been achieved with the full cooperation and backing of the States.

Its approach stands in sharp contrast to the centralist legislation which Labor tried unsuccessfully to push through without *

consultation with the States,

There are a number of other areas in which the Commonwea 1 th is currently seeking with the States, an agreed sharing of p o w e r s . And the adoption of complementary policies and the elimination of unnecessary duplication. Both, the Commonwealth and the States

have passed legislation requiring environmental impact statements to he made before certain projects may proceed,

We are seeking to ensure that in each case, only one environmental assessment need be made. One which satisfies the requirements of both spheres of government. Discussions with the States to achieve the end axe well under way,

1 am pleased to be able to say that the responsible Minister, Kevin Newman, has progressively reached accord with each of his State counterparts with whom discussions have taken place. Perhaps the most Important outstanding matter regarding Pederal-Stoie. relations is the vexed question of jurisdiction over the sea and seabed off the coast of Australia.

A Commonwealth Act, the Seas and Submerged Lands Act, was passed in 1S76. it declares that sovereignty oyer the Australian territorial sea and continental shelf is vested in the Commonwealth.

The validity of that A c t has been upheld by the'High Court, In theory, the Commonwealth could now assume exclusive powers over a wide range of activities. Shipping, navigation, marine pollution, offshore mining, fisheries, marine parks, even jetties and other port facilities, extending below low-water mark.

M any of these functions have been carried out - in the main quite satisfactoricly - by the States. But the legal basis for some of such activities has been thrown in doubt. A further difficulty is that there is a pressing need to ratify certain international

conventions which affect offshore areas, .

Despite the apparent potential-.for Commonwealth intervention, we believe that Commonwealth/Stete cooperation is essential. There would be little point, for example, in the Commonwealth making decisions about the siting of port facilities,

And we have no.interest in doing so.

Some people appear to have forgotten that State cooperation is essential in many matters,

If the State concerned was not prepared to provide the roads, railway, and other infrastructure .to service the port, then any plans the Commonwealth might have could not succeed. Similarly, the use of offshore power in many areas depends on the agreement of the States, who control the land.

~ 5 ~

’l l

The Commonwealth has no intention of assuming · coles, that have long been performed satisfactorily by the States, it may well be necessary to devise entirely new approaches in this area.

We must ensure that the states have constitutional power, to exercise those functions which properly they should be able to exercise. I am confident, that the skills and imagination of the legal advisers of the Commonwea11h and the States, are more than adequate to meet this challenge,

I have put in hand a comprehensive review of all aspects of this m any side problem, : , .

When the review is complete, we shall be consulting further with the States, ' ■ ■ . ' . ■ ■ - ' ■ · ' '

The new federalism policy of the Government, confers more real power on the States.

But it also places on the States greater responsibility,

Regrettably, todate, this sense of responsibility has not always been demonstrated in state programmes, For example, there is at present a clear need for maximum restraint in government .

spending. The Commonwealth has played its part by cutting back programmes and reducing the Commonwealth public service, but the . States have allowed their public services to increase rapidly.

& t a time when the Commonwealth has substantially reduced the . number of Conmionwealth employees. States and local government employment has risen sharply.

When the- figures are adjusted for our employment creating schemes, in the year to November 1976* State and local government employees rose by·3*3% This is a matter we shall be discussing -in some detail at the Premiers Conference next week. ·

We have also been active in the area of social reform, taking important steps to protect individual rights and liberties against the government and other large organisations.

- , ^·.

i f -

Last Thursday S t x e e t / ί η : ; Ba3riia2Bent another ■

most isportan piece of legislaticmi:::iA: ;bill to amend . _ .

The Conciliation, a n d 1 Arbitratim- Act^VvSie 1.111' gives ·

additional protection ·to .'the .rightsiof individuals, particularly . employees and independent contractors.'It establishes aa ' industrial delations Bureau, an industrial ombudsman, to .

secure observance; o f ; the coneilisetion.. ■ · and Arbitration Act, and awards given by- the ,ArMtration;.Co$msission. ; -

The object of these -masares'/it ;tx>/‘ i i a t m d u c e , i n t o industrial .: relations, 'tiie same .:principles : o f piyiX liberties'. and equality" before the law, that w all ^.fcake: ; for ^granted in all other _ . · ' ' ■ . areas o f activity, -.i This·' ^>licy',:Was.-,;en&rsed overwhelmingly .at - ' the last election. The legislation has taken a long time to ; ■ ‘

draft, . .And-we■ ■ wish to - leave h i me;.;’for·, 'the : legislation to be'· fully BEplained, and understood, ■and.-welshalt::consider: suggestions-i;;-, for amendment* : ' ' -;■. -Vv · ; . ■ · .

But· anyone who suggests that the bill should be withdrawn because it upsets a section of the·.- trade ,mion. leadership cannot- have : V . thought through the full consequences o f what they are saying, - ;

If the only industrial legislation, that may be implemented ; ' is that acceptable to those few, but influential extremist union leaders. -'People who are dedicated to the destruction o f our ' ; system iof government. : ’ That·".says something very disturbing ■ ' ; about the way our -society is heading, Trade unions are amongst " thd.

largest and most powerful organisation in this country. And it i$ fight that.they should be.strong. But the pernicious theory that unions should be the only· .-organisations in our society which should

fall outside t h e . rule o f law is a direct blow .at the very - basis · ' . of our democratic system, - ' ' ■ - ■ . .

Finally a word of the referendum, The four proposals on which ; you will vote on 21 May simultaneous election, replacement of 1 Senate casual vacancies with Senators- of the same political party, votes in .referendums for Australian in the ACT and .Mox|$eni Terri ( d m

retiring age for judges, are all fair, and sensible measures. . ; They do" not affect States* rights. A n d rail ike most ■

refer god urns they do not seek further power for the Coirenonwealth. I urge all of you here, to lend yotir active, support to the vote ‘yes* campaign. I a m confident that with your help they will all be successful,

i% λ Λλιλλ π