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Melbourne, Thursday 10 September1998, 12.00 noon: transcript of press conference [unemployment; Labor costings, One Nation]



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PRESS RELEASE

NO.

 

TREASURER

 

EMBARGO

 

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP

 

Treasurer

 

Press Conference

 

Melbourne

 

Thursday 10 September 1998

 

12.00 noon

 

 

E&OE

 

SUBJECTS:   Unemployment, Labor costings, One Nation

 

TREASURER :

 

Well today’s labour force figures show that unemployment fell in the month of August. There were 13,000 new jobs created and unemployment has fallen from 8.3 to 8.1 per cent. This is great news of course for people who are seeking jobs, that new jobs are being created at that rate in the Australian economy at the moment. Also it’s the lowest level, around the lowest levels of unemployment we’ve seen in Australia for the last eight years, since Labor’s 1990 recession.

 

What has contributed to employment growth over the course of the last year has been good economic settings, particularly low interest rates, which have given business the opportunity to go and to create jobs to get people back to work. And it’s the Government’s low interest rate policy and, of course, it’s tax changes which are going to create the economic growth of the future to continue to drive employment growth and create more jobs in the Australian economy.

 

Today’s news is good news — 13,000 new jobs for the month; unemployment falling from 8.3 to 8.1 per cent; better opportunities for those that are seeking work in an economy which has shown great resilience and strength in the face of the Asian financial crisis.

 

JOURNALIST :

 

Mr Costello you’re obviously happy with the timing.

 

TREASURER :

 

Well, you’re always happy when employment grows and unemployment falls and today’s news is good news. Unemployment at 8.1 per cent, around the lowest we’ve had in Australia for eight years, since Labor’s 1990 recession. So, in the face of an Asian financial crisis you had an economy which grew at 4 per cent, you had interest rates at their lowest levels since the 1960s. You had inflation at their lowest levels since the 1930s. You had a budget which was brought back by the Government into surplus. You have a Government which is retiring debt and now facing up to the challenge of reforming our tax system.

 

JOURNALIST :

 

Treasurer does this mean that 5 per cent is a realistic target?

 

TREASURER :

 

Well, we want to ensure that unemployment goes as low as it possibly can, and there’s still work to be done. Which is one of the reasons why we’re reforming the tax system, to help create jobs. But the Labor Party keeps putting out these targets. All their targets measure is the extent of their failure. They had a 5 per cent target when they were in office and an 11.2 per cent record. All their target measured was that they missed by 6.2 per cent. Mr Beazley’s record is there for all to see. He presided over an 11.2 per cent unemployment rate.

 

JOURNALIST :

 

Are you concerned that the majority of, that all the new jobs are part time jobs and we had a fall in full time jobs.

 

TREASURER :

 

Well, all jobs are good jobs and I make the point there are many people that actually look for part time work. And I think if you look back over the figures in the last year there’ve been over 200,000 new jobs created over the last year and I think about 150,000 of them were full time. So it bounces around from month to month. But the point I make is the creation of all jobs are good jobs.

 

JOURNALIST :

 

Mr Costello wouldn’t it be appropriate now for Mr Howard to make that job target, like Mr Beazley?

 

TREASURER :

 

Well Mr Beazley has made this target for years now….

 

JOURNALIST :

 

But wouldn’t it be appropriate now for Mr Howard too, wouldn’t he be justified?

 

TREASURER :

 

Mr Beazley’s doing nothing new. Mr Beazley is just stating what he stated when Labor was in office. And what it meant, stating that target when Labor was in office, was an 11.2 per cent unemployment rate.

 

JOURNALIST :

 

But I’m talking about the Prime Minister.

 

TREASURER :

 

The fact that you state these targets, if you happen to be in the Labor Party, doesn’t mean any practical difference. All it does is measure his failure. See he’s been stating this target for years and years and years. He was stating the target when he had unemployment at 11.2 per cent. Stating a target means nothing. What actually counts is economic management. The economic management of keeping the economy growing and bringing down interest rates, which was the Government’s economic plan.

 

JOURNALIST :

 

Wouldn’t the electorate see you as justified though, now?

 

TREASURER :

 

Well I think the electorate will look at the results. And the results are, although there’s still work to be done in relation to unemployment, the results are the lowest r ates of unemployment, around the lowest rates of unemployment in eight years. And during the Government’s term of office, nearly 300,000 new jobs — 200,000 of those in the last year.

 

JOURNALIST :

 

Mr Costello when will you be putting out an amended statement of Labor’s costings?

 

TREASURER :

 

We’ll be updating it as they add to it. They added a number of new commitments last night when they put out their statement that we hadn’t put in the scoresheet. And as Kim Beazley goes through the campaign adding more spending promises, we’ll be updating it.

 

JOURNALIST :

 

So you don’t have any regrets about yesterday’s costings?

 

TREASURER :

 

Oh no. Yesterday’s costings showed that the Labor Party, over the course of the last two and a half years, has made about $18 billion worth of promises. Now, when Senator McMullan put out his statement last night he added a few, but there were 36 that he neither confirmed nor denied. The challenge is on him. If he wants to deny them now they’ll come off his scoresheet but he won’t deny them because they’ve been holding out to interest groups now for two and a half years that they wanted more spending in certain areas and now they won’t confirm or deny whether, if they were elected, they would deliver on those representations. We want to force them to either go back to those interest groups and say we are no longer making you this promise, or to factor it into their costings.

 

JOURNALIST :

 

Mr Costello will you be calling Pauline Hanson your mother from now on?

 

TREASURER :

 

She’s not my mother I can assure you of that. Thanks very much ... before this goes any further.

 

 

 

AM