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Partial transcript of speech, John Curtin memorial breakfast, Fremantle Sailing Club



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AkJj. AUSTRALIA, ,±

PRIME MINISTER

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY M ICAH

PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT OF SPEECH, JOHN CURTIN MEMORIAL BREAKFAST, FREMANTLE SAILING CLUB _ 4 DECEMER 1988

E & Ο E - PROOF ONLY

PM: Let me bring you up with a jolt to the realities i of today, this very day, in terms of domestic politics because Australia has been blessed today, earlier in , the eastern states, with the unveiling by the Opposition

Leader of his manifesto on Liberal values. Now I suggest that the best way in which we can start to comprehend : and understand the unveiling of the Liberal manifesto 1 of values is to remind you that they had a prerun of !

them. I mean this was the official launch of the Liberal values manifesto today but he had a prerun. ;

And where did he have his prerun of the Liberal values? It was in no other state but in the state of Queensland. He did. He went up there a week or so ago to trot ,

out the values, the basic values of conservative politics in this country. I just ask you, isn't it a litte bit strange when you think about it? After all, they've been uninteruptedly in power in the state of Queensland

for over thirty years. .... no problem about an Upper House, they don’t have an Upper House there. When you get elected in Queensland, you get well and trul\j elected, no-one to stop you. ... with thirty years now. For over thirty years now the Liberals and National Party, shoulder to shoulder, sort of hand in pocket, hand in pocket together, delivering to the people of Queensland not just the manifesto but the practical delivery of conservative values in this country.

Isn’t it bloody marvelous. And as they've talked, , as they've talkedabout conservative values, what have been the mighty*$

family's done very well- you ask young John. There's no doubt, no doubt at all my friends of the commitment of the conservatives to family, but you’d do very much better if you're one of their families than if you’re one of the families of the ordinary people of Australia. So that's where he went and gave it a run and you can ; ask now after thirty odd years of the Liberals and i

the National Party together, ... and then the Nationals;

having their run together, you can ask yourselves about what conservative values really^mean. Because as far as I ’m concerned, and I suggest as far as the people of Australia are concerned, what they really look at when they're judging political parties about values

is not words in manifestos but what they are concerned about is action. So I look with a great deal of cynicism and scepticism, I share the judgement that has already been made today by one of Australia's leading journalists

in his description of what John Howard has had to say and that is where Oakes has described it as a collection of platitudes, propaganda and prejudices. I ask you

to consider the timetable of the release of this manifesto of values. They've been in Opposition now since March of '83. They've been in a position of directionless limbo for that time. Virtually no policies release,

they haven't done the hard work of Opposition and so the substitution of the hard work of the production ; of policies is the trotting out of this series of values. So Mr Howard wants to start putting into the political

timetabie^a discussion about values. Bob Hawke is well and truly ready for him. Let me remind you of what the values were. I talked about the thirty years of values in- Queensland by God, but now let's talk about the values,not in words but in deeds and actions, of that period between '75 and '83 when they had the opportunity, and I remind you, the control of the Senate for a large part of that time, an uninterupted , capacity to show the people of Australia what were [

the values, what were the values of the Liberals and i the National Party in that period in office. I remind you of what their values were. Their values were the values that allowed tax avoidance to become the fastest

industry in this country, not my description but the description of their own Royal Commissioner. That was how he described the legacy of the seven years of values of the conservatives. And when we say that

they allowed tax avoidance to become the fastest growing industry in Australia, what did that mean for the families of Australia, "this peg now upon which they hang their presumptions, their prejudices and their propaganda?

It meant that for the ordinary families of Australia that a greater burden was placed upon the ordinary families of this country as they allowed the privileged to avoid the payment of billions of dollars in taxes which they had the greatest capacity to pay. It meant

that ordinary families with no capacity to avoid, no capacity to hire the rich tax lawyer or the rich accountant, it meant that the ordinary families of Australia paid more while those with the greatest capacity paid or even none at all. That's what the values of Liberalism meant for seven and a half years. What were the values of the Liberals in those seven and a half years in

regard to families as far as the work-place was concerned? The values of the Liberals under Fraser and under Howard meant the creation of confrontation in the workplace

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so that disputation reached the highest levels in the ! history of this country. What were the values of John Howard and the Liberals in regard to employment? : What for families is the most important thing in terms ;

of their security, their welfare? It is that there be a job, and the values of Liberalism in that period meant an historically high level of unemployment in this country. It meant that in their last twelve months

in office another 250,000, another quarter of a million Australians, Australians who came from ordinary families were thrown onto the unemployment scrapheap. Those were the values of Liberalism,of- the conservatives

in this country. What were the values in regard to the family of the conservatives in office when it came to education? Is there anyj’ fitbre fundamental in regard to the values and * the interests of family 4^*^ what happens to education? Let me remind you of the values of John Howard in office when it came to education. ; When we came into office this country had one of the i

lowest retention rates of kids in the education system ; of any country in the western world. Only 36% of Australian kids in 1982 stayed on in the education system beyond the compulsory age and that was the measure of the value that these people attached to that essential

element of family life in this country. Because there i is no other issue more than any other that determines ; what the quality of life and the material opportunities , of kids and family is going to be than what you do ;

in regard to providing them educational opportunity. j

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When I came to office I said to my people there is one thing that we are going to concentrate on in a sense more than almost anything else, as well as the creation of employment opportunities, is to make sure that we g^t more of our kids

staying in school. And so I wasn't concerned with issuing a manifesto of values, I wanted action, and with my ministers we provide it. I am now able to stand up in front of you five and a half years later and say as a result, not of

issuing a manifesto, of writing values, values, values, but of sitting down and doing the hard practical work. Instead of having thirty six percent of our kids staying on in school, now we have fifty eight percent. And it's under Labor as we go into the early 1990s we'll lift that up to two thirds. These are the real values for Australian

families. And in regard to tertiary education, under the values of Howard and the conservatives in office, they created 14,900 additional places in their comparable period of office to us where we've created 46,400. Two hundred and

eleven percent more places created by Labor. And you want to look, they're giving family values - by the end of 1999 he'll wish he'd never talked about family values. Just . . < * let's have a look at the very early stages of family. Child

care. Child care places under Howard were a joke. Under this Government we have more than doubled the number of child care places, to provide the opportunity for women who want to work but retain the commitment that they have to • their kids, we've provided more than double the number of

places and by the end of this period of office and into the next we will have trebled the number of child care places. Let's go to the other end of family values. What is the great value that the family attached to the elderly? What do you do about pensions? What did the Liberals do about pensions? They had so much real value attached to that part of family that under their period of office the real value, using the word literally, the real value of the pension under the Liberals declined by two and a half percent. In

the period that John Howard was Treasurer, the real value of pensions declined by 4.1 percent. By this month the real value of pensions under the Hawke Labor Government will have increased by ten percent. So he can issue his manifesto

about values, issue his manifesto'«bout values, the reality is under Howard 4.1 percent real decline in the value of the pension. Under the Hawke Labor Government an increase in ten percent. Now my friends, I could, but I would have to

start to approach the record of Curtin of an hour and a half, but I don't intend to, but I could easily and I believe I would hold your attention in going through every

aspect of family life, the conservatives' seven years, and show you when it came to deeds as compared to words they were an abject failure. But I content myself with just asking you to bear in mind now, what have been the values

that the conservatives have shown in Opposition? Let me briefly refer to them. They are values which I have recently described as the dark side of politics. It is the dark side of politics that I have referred to which already

shows the cynicism and the racial discrimination in regard to immigration and ethnic affairs. That is amongst the darkest side of the values of conservative politics in this

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country today. It is the dark politics of internal division, of a group of Liberals and of Nationals who can't run themselves let alone offering an alternative to running this country. It is the dark politics my friends and I ask you to notice this. It is the dark side of politics which under John Howard in Opposition has opposed every national wage increase for workers in this country, with the one monumental exception, as I reminded him during this week. He's gone in and opposed every increase for ordinary workers, the members of ordinary Australian families.

Hasn't that got something to do with the values of Australians? That you have the conservatives opposing every wage increase, with the monumental exception. He embraced with wholehearted enthusiasm that total wage increase

nominated for politicians. There's the values, there's the values of the family. Don't worry about the families, the politicians, and they should be worried about it. I'm not on record as opposing increases for politicians but what I

have said is that they should be covered by the same . principles and processes as the rest of the Australian workers. But Howard, Howard, the man who gets up with his values today, dripping with sincerity, oozing concern, has

spent five and a half years in regard to every Australian family saying you should never get a wage increase, but for my family it's different. Thirty six per cent, I should get it straight away. That's the sort of values of the dark

side of politics. And as I've had reason to say in this ’ Parliament in the last week, it's the dark side of politics, the values of the dark side of politics which resort to the smear and the innuendo. Whether it be against me or my ministers or whether it be against the Taxation Commissioner

or the Australian Statistician, use the smear, use the innuendo. As I've said of the Liberals, these people who talk about values, given a choice between the high road and the low road, they'll take the low road every time, and if there's a gutter available they'll go into that. Most

importantly my friends, let messay in conclusion that when we talk about the dark side of politics, these hypocrits who now get up and talk about values, the people who destroyed every value in office and who reject every value in

Opposition by what they do and what they say, the most disturbing part about their values is that they want to avoid rational political debate. They avoid producing positive alternative policies, they attempt to thrive and

live in this vacuum where there cannot be rational debate about alternative policies and it's that policy vacuum my friends which basically explains today's Liberal manifesto. They can't win on real issues. How could they win on a debate in this country about their performance in the last

seven years, on any issue whether it be housing, education, health, employment? They can't win on their record in office and they will not create the basis of debate in Opposition because they refuse to release alternative

policies. So they resort to the vague, to the irrelevant, to the intuitive, to the feel good words.

ends