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Tuesday, 10 September 1996
Page: 3817

Mr BEAZLEY —My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, yesterday you refused to nominate a jobs target. Are you aware of advice from the employment department to your incoming government that Labor was on track to achieve its five per cent target? Are you aware that that advice projected `an average annual growth rate of 2.2 per cent for total employment which is considered to be sufficient to bring the unemployment rate down to five per cent'? Against that advice, doesn't the NILS document which you refused to table yesterday state that, under a growth scenario more closely linked to your budget projections, unemployment could be as high as 8.1 per cent? Is that your employment target? I seek leave to table the document.

Leave not granted.

Mr HOWARD —Tomorrow will mark precisely six months since the new coalition government was sworn in. In that six months we have begun to lay the foundations for—

Mr Melham —It seems like six years.

Mr HOWARD —I tell you what: there are many more years to come. I can assure the honourable members for Holt and Banks that we are not suffering any government fatigue syndrome. We certainly intend to be around for a long time.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! Settle down!

Mr HOWARD —Let me make it very plain to the Leader of the Opposition, who has asked me this question about unemployment: the last group of people in Australia who have any credibility asking questions about unemployment is the Australian Labor Party. For 13½ years you talked long and loud about unemployment. For 13½ years you failed the Australian people. Your former Prime Minister, your former Treasurer, your former finance minister and now Leader of the Opposition lifted the unemployment rate of this country to the worst levels since the Great Depression.

Opposition members —You! You! You!

Mr HOWARD —You have no moral authority whatsoever. I can only repeat what I said yesterday on the subject of the unemployment target.

Mr Kerr —What is your target?

Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Denison! Before I call the next questioner, I might comment to the House that everybody seems very chirpy today and very active. If you are in so much need of exercise, I can provide it.