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Howard's history applauds Labor reform record.

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WAYNE SWAN MP Federal Labor Shadow Treasurer


Prime Minister John Howard has acknowledged that Federal Labor is the party of economic reform and nation-building.

The Prime Minister’s Guide to the Teaching of Australian History - released today - records a series of references in Australia’s economic milestones.

Strikingly, every single one of those milestones (listed below) was initiated by a Labor Prime Minister.

1945 Post-war migration program (Curtin, Forde, Chifley) 1949 Snowy Mountains Scheme (Chifley) 1974 Equal minimum pay rates for men and women (Whitlam) 1983-1985 Australian dollar floated and banks deregulated (Hawke) 1985-early 1990s Trade liberalisation and economic reform

Notably Mr Howard’s list of key economic milestones does not refer to one single initiative of our Treasurer of 11 years - Peter Costello.

Mr. Howard’s acknowledgement follows on from his remarks earlier this year, where he noted that our current prosperity owed much to the most recent wave of Labor economic reforms. Achieving those reforms, according to Mr Howard:

“…more than anything else, more than the mining boom, more than anything else which is responsible for the current strength of the Australian economy where it's possible to say we have a 32-year low in unemployment.” [Address to the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, 26 April 2007]

Mr Howard has joined a growing chorus of economic experts in recognising Labor’s leadership on economic reform in Australia.

In his recently published biography, former US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said:

“Australian Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke in the 1980s, confronted with an economy held in check by competition-stifling regulation, embarked on a series of significant but painful reforms… [which] sparked an amazing economic turnaround". [Memoirs, The Age of Turbulence, reported in The Age 19 September 2007]

And, in his speech to Treasury staff in March 2007, Treasury Secretary Dr Ken Henry said: “Much of our recent macroeconomic and fiscal success is based on past reforms, assisted by the terms of trade.”

[Departmental Speech to Staff, March 2007]

The Labor economic reforms highlighted by the Prime Minister show just how much the values of nation-building, openness to the world and fairness in the workplace are critical to our national history, identity and future direction.

11 October 2007 Contact: Matthew Coghlan 04150978050