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Address to the West Sydney combined area dinner

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EMBARGO: 8:00 pm





Thank you for the opportunity to be with you. The size of _ this gathering proclaims what the Government record has proven - that Liberal principles are the right principles for our country, and our time. x

And your support is also confirmation of the fact that these are the principles on which you want Government/ in the 80s, to be based. But your presence here tonight reminds us that, in spite of our achievements, the battle for the supremacy of Liberal values is a continuing one.

It reminds us that Liberalism can only be as strong as those, who, believing in it, are prepared to fight for it. Our successes during the last five years demonstrate that we are well armed for the coming election battle. Because of the

productive partnership between Government and individual Australians, our national potential has been reawakened; our national capacity has been reconfirmed; and our national confidence has been recharged.

Compare the confidence in Australia today with the position we inherited in 1975. Does anyone want to go back to the Labor days? Is there anyone willing to run the risk of 1972 all over again? .

The progress that has been made; the sense of commitment to Australia's future that has been generated - these are too important to be carelessly cast aside. Our national recovery is increasing in momentum. And this recovery derives, above

all, from the priority we have given to the unrelenting fight against inflation. This priority is still valid today.

For inflation has a destructive capacity to put individuals, businesses and the country's economic security as risk. The success of our anti-inflation policies is borne out by the figures. From a level as high as 17 per cent in 1975, inflation

has fallen to 10.7 per cent.

In 1975, our inflation rate was up to 5 per cent above the average for OECD countries; in the past 12 months, it war three percentage points below. And our inflation rate today is nearly 4 percentage points below that of America; and it is about half

that of Britain. . —

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Indeed, while the U.S.A. and U.K. economies have entered recession; and some European economies are showing signs of weakness; the · success of Liberal Government has made sure that Australia's relatively good economic performance will continue.

As a Government, we are still not satisfied, but our success in the inflation fight has been instrumental in the remarkable revival in our key industries. Because our costs our down, our . exports are up. And last year the value of our exports increased by 33 per cent.

One of the key elements contributing to our greatly improved state of economic health and the success of our downward pressure on inflation, is the containment of Government expenditure. -In the last financial year, we achieved the largest ever recorded reduction in the budget deficit - a fall of nearly $1.5 billion. Because of such restraint we have been able to keep the overall

tax burden relatively low when compared with that of comparable countries.

The most recent survey'published by the OECD of taxation levels in the twenty-four member countries shows that, as a proportion of gross domestic product, only five of these countries have lower burdens of taxation and social security payments than Australia. And the table shows our total tax and social security

revenue, as a percentage of GDP, significantly below that of Canada; almost five percentage points below that of New Zealand; almost seven below that of the United Kingdom; approximately nine below that of France and Germany and twenty-four percentage points below that of Sweden. Of course, I am sure the Labor Party have got their eye on what happens in Sweden where the Government, through taxation, controls over 50% of Gross Domestic Product. This is no doubt the level Labor would prefer to reach for Australia. But you and I are not going to have a bar of it.

The Government's record of economic management has won wide recognition, including international endorsement. A recent report on the attitude of British investors to the Australian economy referred to the confidence they had in Australia which, they were reported as saying, they could not gain anywhere else;

a confidence which, in the words of the report, "was conditional upon the continuation of a Liberal Government".

These British investors proclaimed Australia as a country featuring a well managed economy, stable Government, and good prospects for the future. These prospects are supported by an Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey, taken during April and May, which shows that expected investment for the year ahead is 40 per cent higher

than expectations which existed at this time last year. These expectations are confirmed by the latest Department of Industry and Commerce survey on proposed investment in Australia. It shows $29 billion worth of mining and manufacturing projects either under way, or about to go.

Doesn't all this entitle us to optimism and confidence? Didn't Mr. Hayden say a year ago that the 80s would be'a decade of despair? And he said a couple of weeks ago that the 80s would be a dead-end decade; and he repeated it again today. That kind

of pessimism and gloom has no place in Australia.

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The Labor Party has no capacity to offer national leadership. It has no capacity for national inspiration. It is a divided and disillusioned Party without faith in Australia or Australians. .

Here in Sydney, there are significant indications of the new . confidence in our economic capacity and the rewards that are available for risk taking and investment in Australia.

. at Botany, is planning a $550 million petrochemical development over the next five years which will employ over . 1.000 people during construction; .

Total Oil, at Matraville, is expanding its refinery during the coming four years at a cost of $138 million to employ ~ 1.000 people in that period;

Not far from here, at Yennora, Comalco is increasing its investment in aluminium fabricating machinery and technology in a programme involving $43 million over the next four years;

Tooth's Brewery is in the process of completing an $18 million fermentation block; and is embarking on a $70 million .

reconstruction of the Kent Brewery in Broadway.

And, at Rooty Hill, Kellogg's have nearly finished a frozen food plant at a cost of $20 million and are contemplating a \ cereal production expansion-at a cost of about $60 million later in the 1980s.

To all of this activity, of course, we must add the $3 billion . of coal exploration and development projects proposed in New South . Wales; the $2 billion of projected aluminium development; and . · the $1 billion electricity generation and rail electrification programme. . . .

Can there be more convincing proof of our success as economic . managers? This success has been widely acclaimed, even by some . of our opponents. . . .

Let me repeat what Mr. has said. .

"Let me give credit where credit is of the things (the Prime Minister) has bringing inflation down and all of you would be aware what a . massive task that has been and how some very tough .

decisions have had to be taken to achieve that...". . " .

I think that if fair enough, don' ·

Our increased economic strength is reflected in our employment figures. While unemployment is still too high, in the 12 months to June this year, total employment in Australia was 175,000 higher than for the corresponding period last year. ' . .

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But with all ,the enthusiasm generated by Australia's programme of national development, we must not overlook the fact that a healthy economy is as much dependent on a dynamic small business sector as it is on the vitality of its larger business enterprises.

That is why, as well as maintaining an appropriate business environment, we are taking steps to assist small firms. In particular, we have extended the charter of the Commonwealth Development Bank to enable it to lend to all kinds of businesses. And to further assist small business in the provision of funds

for growth and expansion, the Government has increased the retention allowance from 50 per cent to 70 per cent. Our small business sector stands to gain significantly from resource development. · · ■ · . ' _

For this development gives direct stimulation to other areas of the economy - to manufacturing, retail, transport, communications and a whole variety of service industries. And the wealth that all this generates enables us to provide the hospitals, the roads, the schools and the essential help to those people in the community who, through no fault of their own, genuinely need our assistance.

It is because of our improved economic health that, as a nation, we have been able to achieve significant reforms in assistance to the aged, to families, to the handicapped and to migrants. Care for the elderly is a particular responsibility of Government

as it is of the whole Australian community.

Apart from the security offered by the automatic indexation of their pensions, the standard rate of aged pensions has reached its highest level, as a proportion of average weekly earnings, in over thirty years. We have extended the eligibility for pensioner health benefits; replaced the complex means test for aged people with a Simple income test; and apprpved the building of over 500 new self-contained and hostel-type nursing home • projects.

The Government has implemented significant reforms of benefit to families. In particular, the family allowance was a major initiative in redirecting help to families, especially to mothers from low income or pensioner families. This reform was of particular benefit to over 300,000 families with 800,000 children who had

received little or no help under the previous system.

We have acted in the taxation area to significantly increase help for families. Since coming to office, we have doubled the income tax rebate for single income families, while the sole parent rebate has more than doubled. In the same time, we have extended

the eligibility for the supporting parent benefit to include sole fathers.

Many other low income earners have benefitted from the Government's taxation reforms. We have significantly increased the tax free area for single taxpayers from only $2,500 when we came to office ■ to over $4,000 today. As a result of those reforms, about half a million people who, under Labor, would have been paying tax,

are now not doing so today. .

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Central to our welfare commitment, has been our determination to help those with handicaps. It is the Government's belief that handicapped people must be provided with the opportunities they deserve to develop their skills, their talents, their self­ esteem and their confidence. When we came to office the handicapped child's allowance was only paid for the severely handicapped.. In 1977, we widened the eligibility for this

allowance to include substantially handicapped, as well as severely handicapped children; and in 1978, we extended the allowance to handicapped students aged between 16 and 24 years, not in receipt of an invalid pension. -

To enable organisations to provide more certain and effective help for disabled persons, in our first budget, we introduced - triennial funding of these organisations. Over the last three , years, funds we have made available through this programme, have

increased by almost 80 per cent in real terms over the levels that operated in the three Labor years.

The Government has acted upon its responsibility to cater for the educational and social needs of Australia's migrant communities. This is why we established the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs immediately we took office. Since then, we . .

commissioned'and received the Galbally Report and endorsed all its recommendations: * * '

Many of them have already been implemented, including the provision of funds to the States for English and multi-cultural education in schools; the establishment of 14 migrant resource centres by the end of last year; the extension of ethnic radio and the provision telephone interpreter services in Canberra and all State capitals - including Wollongong and Albury-Wodonga» , 2- . All of this has been done within

a framework of economic responsibility and expenditure restraint.

It is part of our commitment to the belief that Australia as a nation cannot advance unless all members of the community have the opportunity to share in the benefits of our growing wealth. But that wealth must first be generated so that we can improve. on the. kind of programmes I have outlined. And# that is why the Government is committed to co-ordinated national development.

That is why we want the great resource projects to go ahead. That is why we base out claim to Government in the 80s on our capacity to secure sustainable economic growth. For we can only spend as a nation what we earn as a nation. None of us as · "

individuals can spend for long what we do not earn. And so it is with a nation. . . -' .

These are simple truths to most of us - to everyone except that dear old anachronism the Australian Labor Party. What Mr. Hayden and Labor still do not understand is that whatever the Government spends must first be taken from the people. Governments have no resources of their own. But that does not worry the Labor Party.

Two years ago, the Shadow Treasurer protested that a failure at the polls in 1980 by the Labor Party would create for Labor,

"...a mammoth task in rebuilding the public sector and, maybe, an equally mammoth task in convincing the electorate that it should pay a higher level of tax to enable (it) to do so"


Last year, the Leader of the Opposition made his position quite clear when he condemned the, · ' ,

"...rapid spread of philosophies based on lower taxes and smaller government".

And he later proudly boasted that his answer to the challenge of . the 80s was to spend public money. He described this spending as

"the biggest social reform you can carry out in this . ;

country..." . . . .

Are we going· to stand by and let Labor send us· bankrupt again? Would you let Bill Hayden put his hand in your pocket? Labor of the 80s is merely Labor of the 70s recycled - only worse.

In five areas alone they are already committed to $2,000 million . . additional expenditure> if they ever won Government. And that does not include over 150 uncosted spending programmes in their . platform. I have a list here; what's on this Labor list?

It's a list by one Labor spokesman after another promising to spend more of your money. They think that is the answer to every problem. So we are really talking about $2,000 million plus. What they do not say is that they would put on additional taxes that would’

destroy initiative, incentive and enterprise. What they do say, is that they are going to take it from you first. Let's look at their taxation threats. ·:

Mr. Hayden has warned us that, * ’

"I have committed my organisation to a capital gains tax, a resources rental tax, a levy on· domestic oil producers, a number of initiatives in the tax area, and other measures . of that nature".

In what constitutes an elaboration of the "other measures", the Opposition's Spokesman on Economic Affairs has said that is "wrong" that we do not have "some form of tax on capital, be it death duties, capital gains tax, wealth tax, or perhaps some kind of combination of those, or all three".

And in case that left any doubt, Mr. Hurford is on record as having said, . ·

"when it comes to further revenue, we will seek to find it...from indirect taxes".

There is no doubt that Labor works hard at its reputation of being the high tax party. Occasionally, the leadership attempts to conceal this. A little over a week ago, Mr. Hayden was promising to cut sales tax, to make petrol cheaper, to provide

cheaper health insurance. He had already promised earlier in the year to cut income tax. How does he plan to do all this and finance his massive spending? :

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It is just not possible; even though Mr. Hayden, seeks to justify everything on his self-appointed reputation as an economic manager. Mr. Hayden's true economic capacity was put in proper perspective by one of the Labor Party's most successful administrators, the former long time Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Mr. Clem Jonesz who said:

"It is recognised that Bill. Hayden has admitted he can't read a balance sheet".

Well, I think that a would-be Treasurer, or national leader, who can't read a balance sheet is about as useful as an honest — scrutineer at a Sydney Labor Party pre-selection ballot.

It is no wonder one of Clem Jones' colleagues in Queensland remarked:

"Bill a confused man.,

It is because of Labor's inability to lead; to inspire confidence or trust; that our responsibility to Australia and its future is even greater. Because the good government of . Australia depends entirely on the strength of Liberalism. It is

that proven strength that has enabled us to enter the 80s with much to be thankful for. But this is not the time to squander hard won gains. Instead, it is the time to use our energy and our initiative to build upon our achievements with all the strength and vigour at our command. This is the challenge. I all to

join with me in dedicating yourselves to meet this challenge. I ask you all to join with me in making Liberalism the driving force behind all Australians in the next decade and beyond.

I ask all of you to help us build the security of this nation; to help us build a better future for our children; to help us respond to the great trust that has been placed in us by the majority of the people of Australia. This is the most challenging

task of all. But it is also the most rewarding. And, despite . what the cynics may say or write, it is the noblest task of all.