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Tuesday, 11 September 1984
Page: 1041

Mr BURR(10.48) —I agree with the comments made by the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Macphee) and the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Hand) that the most crucial aspect of this vote is that of employing people, the employment of Australian people in the work force in Australia. While I agree with the remarks of the honourable member for Balaclava I disagree in some respects with the honourable member for Melbourne. However, honourable members on both sides need to bear in mind that the most important aspect of the Budget and what it means both for the economy of Australia and the future of the social structure of our country relates to how many people and which people can be employed. We need constantly to bear that factor in mind.

I disagree with some of the aspects of the present Budget. It appears that the Budget strategy is to provide employment opportunities for a relatively few people by taxing some Australians to provide handouts in the form of work opportunities for other Australians. In this Budget we find that under the community employment program there is an allocation of $411.7m and under the wage subsidy scheme there is an allocation of a further $149.8m. That means that through the wages pause or the taxation system a certain number of jobs are being provided for Australian people to the tune of $560m, which is coming out of taxpayers' funds to provide subsidised employment for a certain number of Australians.

I do not think we can end our analysis of the unemployment situation at that point because if we look at the totality of the Budget we have also to look at the social security and welfare allocation. A further $2,970m is provided for assistance to the unemployed. I think we need to look at the total allocation for the unemployed and assistance for the unemployed if we are looking at where the taxpayers' money is being allocated to unemployed people. I disagree with the Government on what seems to be its thrust-that it is the Government or the Public Service that can provide some relief for the unemployed people. I commend the Minister and the Government for having that concern for unemployed people but I disagree with the thrust of thinking that it is the Government which can provide some fill to that vacuum.

Mr Robert Brown —That is a cop-out because you did nothing when you were in Government.

Mr BURR —I ask the honourable member for Hunter to bear with me. If we look at where Australian people are employed we find that roughly 75 per cent of the Australian work force is employed in the private sector and 25 per cent is employed in the public sector. I think all of us would agree with those rough figures. So to assume that it is the public sector which can take up the vacuum of the unemployed I think is totally wrong. If we are to look to where the unemployed people of Australia are to be usefully employed we have to look to private sector employment and then to how the private sector can take up that vacuum. It is in that thrust of policy that I disagree with the Government. The Government seems to assume that if we tax a certain section of the Australian population we can then provide handouts that will take up this vacuum of unemployed people. I disagree with that. I think if we assume that 75 per cent will continue to be employed in the private sector and 25 per cent in the public sector we have to look at what will encourage the private sector to take up the unemployed people in this country. If we start looking at where the private sector is likely to take up that vacuum of unemployed people we have to start looking at the overall context of the economy. That opens up a much broader ambit.

I commend the Treasurer (Mr Keating) and the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke), quite frankly, for saying that we need to have a much stronger private sector input of private capital to develop the private sector input of investment. But one must also then look at what encourages the private sector of the economy to put its money where its mouth is, and that is a very much different thing.

We have also to look at the break-up of the gross domestic product and at the areas of the national economy to which funding has been devoted. We find that the public sector debt in 1983-84 was $75.3 billion. When we project that further forward we find that in 1984-85 $90 billion is taken up by the public sector debt. If we project that even further forward, according to Dominguez and Barry, we find that in 1985-86 $105 billion will be taken up by a public sector debt. That means that less and less money, a lesser proportion of the GDP or of the economy, will be available for private sector investment. Therefore less private sector development of employment opportunities will be available because more and more of the share of the cake will be taken up by the public sector.

Quite frankly, the Government needs to look very carefully at how the Australian cake is being divided. It should come to the conclusion that if employment and development opportunities are to take place in this country they will occur in the private sector. If the Government does not come to this conclusion-and I urge it to do so-I urge it very seriously to withdraw from its lion's share of the take of the economy of this country so that the private sector can have more investment capital available and therefore create more employment opportunities. I share the views of the honourable member for Melbourne and the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Macphee) when I say that employment opportunities are what this Budget is all about.

Dr Harry Edwards —It is what it is not about.

Mr BURR —My friend the honourable member for Berowra reminds me that is what the Budget is not about, but it is what it should be about. Employment opportunities are what it should be about because that is what the future of Australia is all about. I urge the Government to reconsider where the thrust of its economic policy is leading this country. Employment opportunities will be created in the private sector of the economy and it is to that sector that the major share of the economy should be directed. I conclude by reaffirming that the major growth of the economy will take place in the private sector. That is where the thrust of the Government's policy should be directed, but unfortunately it is not.