Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Friday, 22 March 1985
Page: 657

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK(11.38) —The Senate is debating the Address-in-Reply. The Speech was delivered by the Governor-General but was conceived and written by the Hawke Labor Government, conceived in its own philosophy of socialism and written with more imagination than fact, as I will demonstrate. It reminded me strongly of a statement by Winston Churchill who said that 'socialism was the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy'. That indeed runs right through the lack of performance of this Government and the Speech itself. To this Address the Liberal-National Party Opposition has added an amendment which draws attention to major failures of the Government. It draws attention to the cowardly capitulation of the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) to the internal party pressures of the Left in particular on the issue of Australia providing logistic assistance to the United States of America for the testing of the MX missile. No government could be more craven in its action than that. The amendment draws attention to increasing uncertainty as to the future of the ANZUS Treaty because of the attitudes of this Government. It points to the economic policies, the record government taxation and spending and the continuing pressure being exerted by the Government for new taxes on assets. That dialogue is now building up. It points to the growing demands for higher wages and extra costs to industry and it highlights the level of public debt repayments, of record size and swamping the amounts spent on other issues. It points to the loss of value of the currency of Australia and goes on to show the additional cost burdens to industry. All this can be proven.

I said that there was a degree of poetic imagination in this Speech. Let me start at the beginning of the Speech. It says:

. . . the unemployment rate has been drastically cut during the period.

I repeat:

. . . the unemployment rate has been drastically cut during the period.

I sought Government evidence for this. The first thing I sought was the Prime Minister's own statement about the benchmarks for the reduction of unemployment. The Prime Minister, in his policy speech, gave this benchmark. He said:

More than 130,000 jobs have to be found each year just to absorb new people coming onto the workforce-that is, just for unemployment levels to mark time.

That statement was made by the Prime Minister. More than 260,000 new jobs had to be found in the past two years, by the Prime Minister's own measure, just to mark time in unemployment. So I looked at the figures. What did I find? Taking, for example, from March 1983 to December 1984, I find that employment has grown at the very best by 313,000. If 260,000 new jobs were needed to maintain unemployment levels, the Prime Minister can claim that he has created 53,000 new jobs. That in itself must be a rather pitiful boast, on my calculation. He did not say that the participation rate from which he gets his 8.3 per cent unemployment figure has fallen steadily during the Hawke Government's regime. Whereas in March 1983, the last month of the Fraser Government, the participation rate was 61.2 per cent, in the ensuing 23 months it averaged 60.4 per cent. For 19 months the rate was below the March 1983 figures. I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard a table prepared by the Confederation of Australian Industry showing the level and rate of unemployment assuming a constant participation rate of 61.4 per cent. I hope that has been presented to the Government. I believe that permission has been granted for its incorporation. The table shows that on a constant participation rate the unemployment rate is not 8.3 per cent but 10 per cent.

Leave granted.

The table read as follows-


Seasonally Adjusted Data

Level of Rate of

unemployment unemployment

000's per cent 1978: March 440.8 6.8 June 438.3 6.8 September 502.8 7.7 December 467.4 7.2 1979: March 486.9 7.4 June 483.1 7.3 September 486.6 7.4 December 457.0 6.9 1980: March 418.5 6.3 June 415.5 6.2 September 406.2 6.0 December 408.9 6.0 1981: March 414.4 6.1 June 401.8 5.9 September 401.5 5.9 December 467.8 6.8 1982: March 483.8 7.0 June 552.8 7.9 September 607.3 8.7 December 732.1 10.4 1983: March 799.0 11.3 June 828.1 11.6 September 823.1 11.5 December 768.6 10.7 1984: January 795.3 11.0 February 789.6 11.0 March 732.4 10.2 April 717.0 10.0 May 729.1 10.1 June 711.6 9.8 July 710.8 9.8 August 752.2 10.4 September 734.5 10.1 October 735.5 10.1 November 727.5 10.0 December 724.6 10.0

* 61.4 per cent was the average participation rate from 1973-74 to 1983-84

Source: Derived from Data in ABS-The Labour Force

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —I then thought that the best thing for me to do was to go to government documents. I went to the report of the Committee of Inquiry into Labour Market Programs, which has been commended by the Government. This document was produced in January 1985, virtually within weeks of the Governor-General's Speech. I read:

More than 600,000 people, through no fault of their own, want work but are without it . . .

It goes on to say:

. . . as many again want work but have given up the search . . .

That document, commended by the Government, says that 1,200,000 people are seeking work but cannot get it. Not 8.3 per cent at all but of the order of 16 per cent or more want work but cannot get it. This reveals the fallacy of the participation rate in itself. This document goes on:

. . . over 100,000 young people have completed their education but are denied the opportunity, in the long accepted way, of obtaining work, further training and independence; large numbers of women are treated as second class citizens in the labour market; substantial numbers of those with disabilities and other disadvantages are left without hope of obtaining the stimulation and companionship of work; and numbers of older people are hurried into a retirement which neither they nor the state are prepared to accept.

Those 1.2 million people represent a massive increase in the number of unemployed, and the Hawke Government has the gall to have the Governor-General say that the unemployment rate has been drastically cut. It knew that virtually one quarter of all the young-the adolescents, the 15 to 19-year-olds-were unemployed. It knew that there was a chronic growing of long term unemployment in that group but it went on to pretend. I draw support for what I say today from basic authoritative sources. This report is one classic example.

Again, I have been told in this report that things are looking up, things are good. I turned to authoritative statements from around the world as to what was happening. The first thing I looked at was a statement from a major Wall Street bank, the Irving Trust Co., and its diagnosis of why the Australian dollar in comparison with the American dollar has come down from the high 80c to 69c or thereabouts. There is no reason why it should not state the facts. The Irving Trust Co. said:

The primary reason for the abrupt slide has been a loss of confidence in the Hawke Government.

An opinion poll was quoted showing support for Mr Hawke at a record low. It went on to say:

The Prime Minister's flip flop on Australia's planned monitoring role in MX missile tests has cast doubts on his ability to resist economic demands from the left wing of his Labor party.

Senator Cook —Why is the United States dollar falling?

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —There speaks the left wing. No wonder it interrupts. The company went on to say:

Political weakness combined with economic forecasts of slower growth and widening budget and current account deficits in the year ahead imply that we have probably not seen the bottom for the Australian dollar.

That is the comment of the Irving Trust Co. in contrast with the speech that was thrust upon the Governor-General. I look even further at this, to the Australian Financial Review of last Wednesday. I take it that no one will criticise unduly the value judgments of the merchant bank Morgan Stanley, because over the years all governments of all philosophies in Australia and throughout the world have used this bank for debt funding and debt servicing. The article in the Financial Review stated:

One of the largest and most influential broking and investment banking groups in the US has delivered a virtually unequivocal thumbs-down to the Australian market.

In a letter to domestic and international clients last Friday, Morgan Stanley says that following a comprehensive tour of Australia, 25 senior American and European institutional investors were 'hard pressed to find any stocks to buy'.

Morgan Stanley then catalogues a list of problems facing Australia, ranging from a failure by management to take full regard of the interests of investors to a stifling tax regime and an economic inertia which is rooted in the enormous natural wealth the country enjoys. The article states:

Australia has produced ''one of history's great examples of 'bracket creep', Australian stocks are overpriced . . .''

It continues with a damning condemnation of the present economy of Australia. In case it is thought that Morgan Stanley is not to be regarded as a judge, I looked at a manufacturing survey. I have read in a newspaper article that there has been a general slow down in output, new orders and employment in the manufacturing industry and that fewer manufacturers believe that the business climate will improve in the short term. This is the position according to the latest survey of industrial trends. A survey by the Confederation of Australian Industry and the Westpac Banking Corporation shows that the smallest number of manufacturers since 1982 believes that the industry will improve. Most expect no change in the general business situation in the next six months. The article states:

The survey shows that manufacturing employment is expected to decline further, although at a slower rate than in the previous three months, and most manufacturers predict increased costs and prices.

I thought I would regale myself with that and see how in fact the Hawke Government could prove that that was wrong. I looked at the figures for the growth in retail sales in the last two fiscal years of the Fraser Liberal Government. For the second last year the growth figure was 11.4 per cent and for the last fiscal year, 1982-83, it was 11.6 per cent. But the growth for the first year of the Hawke Government, 1983-84, was 4.2 per cent.

Alice in Wonderland did not have the kind of imaginative creativity that has gone into this Speech. I have quoted actual figures from Government documents. What have we seen? We have a Government which came into office, railing against indirect taxation, extra charges, secret taxes and so on. This Government, which said that indirect taxes were wrong, indexed excises so that it could still collect such taxes by stealth. But people have long memories and they remember what Mr Hawke and his Party said in the approach to the 1983 election. Referring to Mr Fraser, he said:

The Prime Minister is clearly committed to further increases in indirect taxes for he has justified the election on the grounds of failure to obtain approval for Bills increasing sales taxes . . . These increases will raise prices, reduce purchasing power and have yet further regressive effects on the living standards of middle and lower income earners.

The first thing the Government did when it came into power was to index excises. A Mr Keating, an erstwhile great Treasurer-but not now with the dollar slipping-had magic to say about the wickedness of raising petrol prices according to import parity and the dastardly reaction of the Fraser Government in using the exchange rate to adjust those prices. He said: 'We will not do that. That is wrong'. Indeed, he said that the withdrawal of the January petrol price increase would reduce the consumer price index by a further one-half per cent. He said: 'This, together with Labor's commitment to eschew increases in indirect taxes, will set inflation on a downward trend'. Of course, Mr Keating developed state of the art attacks on import parity petrol pricing. He is now the fervent collector of these taxes because he wants more and more. It is his major source of revenue. We have the extraordinary paradox when world prices for petrol are falling all around us of the Treasurer raising prices all the time. He said in his election speeches that it would be wicked to put the Fraser Government back into power because a litre of petrol would cost over 40c. He should not be embarrassed. He has always done things on a bigger scale than us. Petrol is now at least 51c or 52c a litre, thanks to the Hawke Government.

How extraordinary that a Government which was elected for having said 'The principal thrust of Labor's economic strategy will be to reject the policies of contraction and embrace the policies of expansion' now hatches a Minister for Finance, Senator Walsh, who, in his reincarnation, has to eat all his previous words in opposition and who has now embarked upon an attempt to bring about the greatest contraction in government spending that we have seen. There is to be a raid on student fees, a suggested means test on the spouse allowance and so on. Wherever one looks there is contraction. There cannot be a greater confidence trick than in what this Government has said and done. As I have frequently said, Mr Hawke knows what is right but does what is wrong, and so does his Government.

I will take the Governor-General's Speech step by step. We can demolish the Speech as it relates to unemployment. In fact the situation is the reverse of what is claimed. The Speech states:

The Government remains committed to developing a strong and competitive manufacturing industry.

What do we find? The survey shows that manufacturing industry is contracting. In years gone by, manufacturing industry employed 28 per cent of all employed Australians. Today that figure is 17 per cent and falling.

Senator Cook —You were in power during that time.

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —There is an interjection. I remind the honourable senator opposite that in 1974 the Whitlam Labor Government cut tariffs by 25 per cent across the board. Within that year 112,000 people were disemployed by that single paper action by the Labor Government. No doubt it is very proud of it. Let us keep in mind that this Speech states that manufacturing is expanding, yet the facts are that manufacturing is contracting. I will go on to read the valiant words stating what the Labor Party will do about trade. The Speech states:

The Government is determined that Australia will be in a position to meet this challenge by targeting particular markets---

My goodness, we sent Mr Hawke overseas to target particular markets. He said that he would deal with the Japanese and save the percentage of our beef exports. Like T. S. Eliot's quote, he came back not with a bang but with a whimper. In fact, the percentage fell. Are we to be proud of the fact, talking of meat exports, that the average in recent years was 630,000 tonnes a year yet this year we will export 410,000 or 420,000 tonnes? Is that the bang or the whimper of Mr Hawke? What has been done with sugar is an absolute disaster. With wheat, we have the lowest price in the whole of the post-war years.

Can honourable senators name an industry that has been helped by the Hawke Government? The Hawke Government came into power and boasted of the fact that it had rained, that the drought had been broken and that the United States of America economy had picked up. But the Hawke Government has done nothing except to put extra weight on the backs of the farmers with its excise on oil and its other duties. I could go on about what has happened to minerals and what is happening to the price of coal. Can anyone name a successful venture overseas by a Hawke Government Minister? It is no wonder that Mr Lionel Bowen was taken out of the Trade portfolio and put into the portfolio of eternal fame-that with a great precedent of failure-that is, the Attorney-General's portfolio. No wonder the Government did that because his record was immense. I then read this extraordinary statement in the Speech:

The relationship between Australia and the United States under the ANZUS Treaty remains as firm as ever, and Australia's rights and obligations assumed under the Treaty are undiminished.

The other day Mr Hawke used words that said virtually that ANZUS was finished. I cannot quite reconcile these things. On the one hand, Mr Lange-who now has in this Parliament a spokesman in the person of Senator Mason-made it very clear on 27 February, when he said:

This constitutes an end to the US-New Zealand defence relationship.

How can a tripartite treaty be in existence if that is so? It is Mr Lange saying that; and after all, Senator Mason is his surrogate spokesman on this matter. I want to concentrate on this matter because in this Parliament we now have an extraordinary situation. We have an Australian Democrats party which is pledged to oppose ANZUS, on its own say so, and which is taking a unilateral foreign affairs line and is actually putting a sense of fear into people on an entirely wrong basis. On the one hand, Senator Mason has said: 'I believe that if there is a nuclear holocaust, it will be a total holocaust, and therefore the theory of the nuclear winter must be accepted, that no matter where the nuclear missiles fall they will affect everyone'. Then he pretends that in a major nuclear exchange, somehow, by isolation, we could escape. Every Australian must come to understand the simple fact that the task of every Australian is to prevent the first missile from falling, no matter where, in Australia or anywhere else, because following the first missile will be thousands more. They will be global in their coverage and the effect on Australia will be as total as it will be elsewhere.

A nonsense argument that Senator Mason goes on with today is to talk of some kind of defence force which could be somehow effective if there were a nasty near-global war. All those who understand what is going on today understand that we cannot have significant conventional wars any more and that any significant conventional war will, tragically, escalate into global nuclear war, and so we shall be in the holocaust. Senator Mason and others go on and on. Everyone who looks towards the Australian Democrats should understand that the only test of an effective peace policy is to ask one thing: Will what is being done help to stop the first bombs falling, wherever they are directed? Will it help to strengthen the deterrent so that the bombing does not begin? If it does help and if, therefore, it is an installation on Australian shores or a help to our allies in our ports, we should support it totally. That should be the test, and not the nonsense test. It is interesting that apparently Senator Mason would somehow come to grips with letting American ships come into the port of Fremantle because there may be a lot of Russians coming into the Indian Ocean-as I understood what he said-but not into Sydney. The Democrats have painted themselves into the classic illogic of those who use the emotion of fear for their purpose illegally and illicitly and who do not get to the basic facts.

I want to talk of another person who knows what is right and does what is wrong-the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister said that the Americans wanted to test the MX missile. We all know that that missile is the successor to the Minuteman missile and that it is to be the deterrent against the Russian SS18 and SS19 missiles, which are larger and more fearsome than the MX. The Americans asked whether we would refuel a couple of aircraft to help in the surveillance of this test, which would not involve a warhead and would be entirely benign. The Prime Minister said: 'I met with a number of my Ministers. We are men of integrity. We agreed that we ought to help the Americans. That was the right thing to do'. Indeed, so much was that so that his Foreign Minister and his Defence Minister said that, while he was changing his mind. It is interesting to see why he changed his mind. Willesee pressed him a number of times and asked him why he had changed his mind. Willesee said:

How do you relate that to what was your apparent cynicism or pragmatism, if you like to use a nicer word, in your backdown on the decision to assist the Americans with the testing of the MX missile?

Mr Hawke replied:

Well I don't relate it to that. I mean, I simply say to you directly, Mike-

I am sorry that I cannot imitate Max Gillies in this matter. Mr Hawke is out-Max Gilliesing Max Gillies. Indeed, I read today that Mr Hawke is growing more like Max Gillies every day. However, Mr Hawke said:

I mean, I simply say to you directly, Mike, that I and my two colleagues who made that decision-Bill Hayden and the then Defence Minister, Gordon Scholes, were three men of integrity-

I interpolate here that whenever one hears that one counts the spoons, and one sups with a long spoon. He continued:

. . . who made what we believed on our assessment of all the circumstances was the right decision.

Then he went on:

But what was put potentially at risk was, first of all, the support that I and my Government have, not only within the Party, but more broadly for the centrality of the United States/Australian alliance and what goes with it-the hosting of the joint facilities in Australia, visits of American ships to our port.

No one, except the left wing of the Labor Party, threatened the Prime Minister. The Australian community did not threaten him; no one else did. What he has said is this: 'Because I was threatened by the Labor Party that if I went on with the MX missile situation there would be a threat to the long term existence of the bases in Central Australia and the visits of ships to our ports, I gave in'. They are plain words. Here is a classic case of blackmail. It is no wonder that the Wall Street bankers said that he gave in. It is no wonder that the dollar is falling around the world because of his craven retreat on this matter. They are his words. No one can run away from that. Again I say that the Prime Minister knows and his Party knows what is right, and he does what is wrong.

Senator Mason is present in the chamber now. I say to him that we face a situation in which Australia must have a peace policy whereby any action which supports a deterrent and makes peace stronger and war further away ought to have our support. Any action which weakens the deterrent, as chasing away the ships does, ought to be avoided. What a crass stupidity it is that those who support Mr Lange do not want the ships in the port but are utterly willing and eager to join them in tactical exercises on the sea, knowing that they are nuclear armed and nuclear propelled and are taking part in tactical nuclear exercises. Let the spokesman for Mr Lange here, Senator Mason, in future get up and support that kind of crass stupidity. It makes me sick.