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Mr Hawke ties to pass the buck for low investment



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ANDREW PEACOCI^k Leader of the Opposition x '

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MR HAWKE TRIES TO PASS THE BUCK FOR LOW INVESTMENT

Mr Hawke's plea that business "play its role" in the recovery by raising investment is the first sign that he intends to make business a scapegoat if our recovery weakens next year, as he obviously expects it will.

Last night, Mr Hawke asked at a meeting of the Institute of Directors in Sydney "when has business known a better environment within which to commit its resources to a renewed round of investment?" Presumably he was hoping his listeners would treat this as a rhetorical question, because the

available figures on investor's expectations show that they can recall many times when the outlook was better.

The proper role of business is to look to the longer term. And they did not need reminding by Mr Keating that the factors which have stimulated our economy are only temporary.

Nor would they need reminding of the growing list of things this Government has done to reduce the chance that business will earn a return on their money sufficient to make investment worthwhile.

The fact is that the Government has either not attacked, or just given up on the fundamental issues which determine investment.

First, the Government has encouraged a massive wage increase of over 8 per cent in only six months. This follows our continued loss of international competitiveness in 1983.

Second, they have clearly not convinced investors of their ability to reduce the 1984-85 budget deficit to a level which will not put undue pressure on interest rates.

Third, the proposed unbalanced changes to the Trade Practices Act reveal Labor's innate bias towards the unions. Business must fear that this bias will show through in other areas, for example, price control.

Fourth, Labor Governments have imposed extraordinary increases in taxes and charges on business.

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Fifth, Labor's continual speculation about an early election must increase uncertainty, and so encourage business to postpone investment.

The conclusion is clear. Everyone hopes the recovery will be sustained. But if -the recovery does falter, it is the Government, and not business, which must accept responsibility.

Mr Hawke must not be allowed to create scapegoats to cover up his own failures.

16 March 1984