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Keating government too cowardly to debate economic crisis

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Senator Jim Short Deputy Leader o f the Opposition, in the Senate Shadow Minister for Finance Assisting the Leader on Commonwealth/State Relations

SMF 116/92


The conduct of the Keating Labor Government, aided and abetted by the Democrats, in refusing to debate the economic crisis in the Senate this afternoon is a national disgrace. -

Given the atrocious state the Australian economy has fallen into, a cowardly Government afraid to face the issues head-on is a Government not fit to remain in office.

Consider the facts:

— net foreign debt up 8.6% to nearly $163 billion — gross foreign debt crashing through the $200 billion

psychological barrier — September-to-September GDP growth of only 2.1% (compared with the ludicrous One Nation estimate of 4.75% and the over-optimistic August Budget estimate of 3%) — in consequence, no realistic prospect of any significant

improvement in the 11.3% unemployment rate — another Balance of Payments deficit, this time $1.8

billion, announced yesterday.

With Keating's phoney One Nation package now exposed for what the Coalition always knew it was, where is the Government's fifth term agenda? Where are their policies to get Australia out of this mess of their own creation?

Is their only policy a widening of the welfare net to catch the increasing numbers of Keating casualties, the hundreds of thousands of Australian families agonising under the Government's


All we saw today was the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Button, in "cloud cuckoo land", claiming that the Government's Budget target of 3% real economic growth in 1992-93 is still attainable.

Senator Button won't be around after the next election to account for his fanciful forecasts — and nor will the Prime Minister.

Canberra 1 December 1992 Contact: Rod Woolley (06)277 3119 (w), (06)288 9355(h)