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Monday, 14 October 1991
Page: 1886


Mr FORD(10.40 p.m.) —-I wish to raise a matter which is of increasing concern in the community at large, and in my own electorate of Dunkley in particular: the alarming growth in unemployment since the March 1990 election. Last Friday, the front page of the Australian featured the headline `Labor's ideals battered'. The accompanying article focused on the plight of the unemployed, devoting considerable space to four individuals registered at the Frankston CES in my electorate. On Friday, Mark Kalb, Miriam Henry, Josephine Wainwright and Jackie Tallon became the public face of those Australians who have been so callously sacrificed by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and the former Treasurer, the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), on the altar of their own personal ambition.

Not only has this Government deceived the nation's farmers and its business people but also it has betrayed the young by encouraging them to remain in educational institutions and complete training courses only to discover that there are no jobs at the end. But it is not only the young who have been dumped on the scrap heap of unemployment. Miriam Henry is a single mother in her early fifties who has three children to support. In recent years she has made a remarkable effort to get off social security and into the work force. However, since returning to high school and completing years 11 and 12, Miriam has had only two temporary jobs. This situation is absolutely intolerable.

These people have been most cynically sold out to the interests of the industrial relations club, the ACTU and the new class of trendies in secure government jobs. Above all, they have been sold out by the Prime Minister's vaulting ambition, his Macbeth-like determination to hang on to his position at all costs.

In Dunkley, unemployment amongst adults is at least 15 per cent and it is 40 per cent amongst the young. Even that pathetic apologist for the Cain and Kirner governments, the so-called independent Age, has finally acknowledged that the unemployment rate in Victoria is really 13.5 per cent, not 10.2 per cent. If the calculations had been made on the same basis as in 1985, if we were not cajoling young people to linger hopefully in educational institutions, then the figure would be as high as 16.5 per cent. Here are the results of 20 years of business bashing. Here are the results of inconsistent tariff policies and of a recession we had to have.

Mark, Miriam, Josephine and Jackie are the hapless victims of exorbitant interest rates and ever increasing government imposts on the productive sector. Many businesses have been forced into liquidation as a direct result of high interest rates. Having borrowed at 10 or 12 per cent, they have been quite unable to recover from the effects of rates of 20 per cent and above. Unless the Government is prepared to take immediate action and introduce a moratorium on debt, I foresee a level of bankruptcies rivalling that of the worst years of the Great Depression. The cost of unemployment is enormous. A million unemployed cost approximately $10 billion. Naturally, two million unemployed would cost $20 billion. This growing burden on the taxpayer cannot continue. But unless more practical measures are implemented immediately, the problem could go on for years.

The Government's failure mentality and its inertia in the face of escalating unemployment reveal its complete inability to face up to its responsibilities to the Australian people. Instead of accepting that vast amounts must be spent on the growing numbers of unemployed, it is more logical to invest this money in Australian business. Surely it would be better to direct $10 billion now to business rather than having the unemployment which will inevitably result from the ever increasing number of bankruptcies.

Apart from essential reforms in industrial relations, Australia urgently needs an overhaul of its iniquitous taxation system. Not only do we need a goods and services tax, but also something must be done about the alarmingly low level of domestic saving. In contrast to Australia, most other developed countries have savings schemes which aim to encourage capital formation and support business with low interest rate loans.

In Japan, many people contribute to economic growth and wealth creation by investing in Maruyu accounts. In a Maruyu account, the interest is basically tax free and deposits of up to $200,000 can be securely invested with no threat to one's social security entitlements. Not surprisingly, these savings accounts have done much to underpin the economic growth that has characterised the Japanese economy since the Second World War. Loans from such funds, in an Australian equivalent, would be available to business at 4 or 5 per cent. Initially, capital would be directed to businesses with established track records. (Time expired)