Malcolm Fraser
Malcolm Fraser Liberal/National coalition

Delivered at Melbourne, Vic, September 30th, 1980

The election was held on 18 October, 1980. Malcolm Fraser and the Liberal/National Country Party coalition sought a third term. The Australian Labor Party was now led by Bill Hayden, who had taken over from Whitlam following the 1977 election.

A global economic downturn had taken place in 1978 to 79 and the government was criticised for its economic management. Polls showed the government was increasingly unpopular and despite the large majority, was in a weak electoral position. The government campaigned on its record and accused Hayden of being a prisoner of his party’s socialist Left faction, while

Hayden blamed the government for the decline in living standards. Labor focused not just on Hayden but on two popular figures – NSW premier Neville Wran and ACTU President Bob Hawke, who himself was elected to parliament at the general election. Tensions between these three men contributed to the perception of Hayden as a weak leader.

The Australian Labor Party won significant gains, winning 51 seats to the Coalition’s 74, reversing much of the damage done by the previous two elections.

Malcolm Fraser, National Library of Australia
Malcolm Fraser, National Library of Australia

John Malcolm Fraser was born 21 May, 1930. Fraser was Prime Minister of Australia 11 November, 1975 to 11 March, 1983. He was the Leader of the Liberal Party. Fraser represented the electorate of Wannon, Vic 1955 to 1983.

Elections contested

1975, 1977, 1980, and 1983


Tonight, I want to talk to you about the challenges and opportunities that lie before us. First, we must maintain responsibility in economic affairs because, without that, all else fails. Second, we must harness this nation's resources in a co-ordinated and responsible programme of national development. Third, we must see that from the prosperity we generate, we provide adequately for those in need. Fourth, as individuals and as a nation, we must encourage ability and cultivate excellence. And finally, in a world where there is conflict, division and illusion, we must guide Australia safely through the difficulties and the dangers.

First challenge: responsible economic management

The first challenge facing Government in the 80s is the pursuit of responsible economic management. Responsible economic management may sometimes sound far-away from our everyday lives. But responsible economic management has brought our inflation rate to:

  • much less than it was in 1975.
  • much less than the inflation rate of Britain.
  • below that of the United States.
  • and below the average of advanced industrialised countries.

But there is more to be done. Continued economic responsibility demands restraint in Government expenditure. And last year, we achieved the largest ever recorded reduction in the Budget deficit $1.5 billion. And now, this financial year, the domestic deficit will be wiped out altogether.


We earlier committed ourselves to reform the tax scales. We have fulfilled that commitment absolutely. Under the Hayden/Labor scales:

  • from $7,000, paid 35 cents in the dollar.
  • from $10,000 you paid 45 cents in the dollar.
  • from $15,000 you paid 55 cents in the dollar.

Under our scales, you are on the standard rate of 32 cents in the dollar, right up to $17,239. And on the first of July this year, taxes were cut by over $600 million — of particular benefit to single income families. Under our present policy of half tax indexation there will be a further tax cut of around $500 million from July the first next year. Of course, we would have preferred to go further. But any tax cut purchased at the cost of higher inflation would be no tax cut at all. And we will continue to fight inflation. No wonder British investors recently said that their confidence in the Australian economy was 'Conditional upon the continuation of a Liberal Government.' And we plan to keep it that way.

Second challenge: development

And so I come to the second challenge — the need for a broad based and responsible programme of national development.

In my Policy Speech in 1977, I said Australia could look forward to $6,000 million of development. Some amazement was expressed at this — even disbelief. Because the Labor Party had stopped development dead in its tracks. Yet in the two years after that, more than $6,000 million was invested in mining and manufacturing. _And now, prospective investment is $29,000 million. This development promises to be as important to Australia and individual Australians as anything in the last 35 years.

Already, new aluminium smelters and mines are being established in Australia along with the associated new towns, railways, roads and port facilities. The benefits of this will be felt nation-wide. We are not just talking about development for development’s sake – we are talking about development because of what it means to people. And it means jobs, prosperity and security for Australian working men and women.

To achieve all this we have had to trim our sails once or twice, for the world is a harsher place that anyone expected five years ago. But responsible management means placing Australia first, not once or twice, but always. Placing Australia first is the responsibility of management, Labor and trade unions just as much as it is of Government. Responsibility to Australia means achieving greater rank-and-file influence within unions; and giving rank-and-file trade unionists, confronted with the demand to join a strike, the option of a secret ballot.

But above all, it means rejection of 35-hour weeks; rejection of unrealistic wage claims; and rejection of extremist union leaders. And that rejection is the duty of us all.

Let me give you another measure of what is happening in Australia. The increase in electricity generation through the 1980s will be almost equal to that which occurred over the last 30 years. We are going to do in ten years what previous generations took 30 years to accomplish. Modern new industries are coming on-stream with modern plant and equipment involving the most advanced technology. These new developments will give Australia in the 1980s a much stronger international base. New markets are opening up for Australian industries.

None of this has happened by accident. We have introduced firm anti-inflationary policies, policies which encourage and support new Australian initiatives, policies which reflect a responsible and reasonable attitude to overseas investment, and policies which protect the Australian environment. What is happening is the result of our policies.

And our oil parity pricing is an important part of the overall plan. We want Australia to be as energy self-sufficient as possible in future years. We do not want Australia to be a beggar for fuel on the international market. We want to attract investment in alternatives to oil – and we are succeeding.

The giant Rundle Shale oil project in Queensland is likely to be the largest ever undertaken in Australia, and one of the largest in the world. This would not have occurred without parity pricing. We are not just concerned for next year, or the year after. We are building Australia for the next decade and beyond; to do otherwise would be a betrayal of you and your children. Against the dangers and the difficulties of the current war in Iran and Iraq, does anyone dare tell us that we should alter our policies?

It is fair enough to ask where the oil revenues are going. Every cent is being returned to Australians. For example, this year more than $600 million in tax cuts, more than $500 million on defence, and over $460 million to further reduce the Budget deficit. The growth and confidence in Australian industry is broad-based – industries generally are looking to the future, encourage by incentive for investment, for innovation, for research and for export. These policies will continue.

The tax laws will be altered again to make it easier for small business to build up their reserves.


We will provide additional incentives for the tourist industry; amongst these, many of our airports are being remodelled and rebuilt. We have built on our programmes for Tasmania; and with New Zealand approval, the Hobart to Christchurch air link will soon begin.And we have decided to proceed with the Alice Springs-Darwin railway.


Five years ago, it was an unhappy business travelling around the Australian countryside. Many farmers were bankrupt; prices had collapsed. Farmers did not know whether to encourage their sons to stay on the land, or to desert their farms. Now, all that has changed. Our rural industries are doing much better. Our fight against inflation; our policies in support of rural industries; our effective trade offensive overseas; these have played a major role in rural recovery. We understand rural industries. We assist them through troubled years and variable prices. And new initiatives will betaken in the coming Parliament.


I know that, as I speak tonight, there is severe drought in many parts of Australia. We will continue to co-operate with the States to see if there is more we can do to assist.

Labor taxes

Would anyone exchange our programmes of assistance for the threat of Labor's death duties? Would anyone exchange our current industrial and rural strength for the certainty of Labor's wealth tax? Would anyone trade their present position for the policies of the Whitlam years and the introduction of a capital gains tax?


As a result of rural recovery, last year, for the first time in 30 years, farm employment grew. Indeed, in the 12 months to August this year, total employment in Australia grew by over 200,000. What are the Labor Party doing? They are promising to provide half that number of jobs — but they are going to charge you a thousand million dollars to do it. Our dedication to strengthening the economy is the only way to create more jobs. I know it is difficult for some people who leave school. Some move smoothly into a job; others have difficulty. Because of this, we have established a range of manpower and training programmes to improve the skills, the versatility and the mobility of those looking for work. These programmes will benefit this year more than 236,000 Australians. And last year, the number of apprentices in training was an all-time record of 136,000.

We will do more by extending counselling services and introducing a new allowance providing much greater encouragement to the young unemployed to take advantage of new and expanded training opportunities.


I am not going to say much about the Labor Party tonight. Mostly, they speak for themselves.

Their essential policy is a massive programme of additional spending. In only six areas they promise to spend an additional $2,500 million of taxpayers' money. These programmes have been costed by Government Departments, and by the Department of Finance. The figure of $2,500 million is a figure that would have to go into any Labor Budget.

If this amount were to be paid out of taxes, it would represent an average of over $8 a week — more than $400 a year — for every Australian taxpayer. Are Labor's policies worth that to you? Would you allow any of Labor's three leaders to spend your money in this way? And they have the nerve to suggest that they could lower taxes.

But there are more than 250 other programmes to which the Labor Party is committed and which have not been costed. Well, I say to Bill Hayden and the Labor Party, stand up and be costed. Stand up and tell us that these promises would be funded through higher taxation or by printing money. Stand up and tell us that these measures will fuel inflation, promote unemployment, and kill off economic growth. Labor in the 1980s is merely the Whitlam years recycled.

There is not a word in what Labor say or do that will encourage investment, promote growth, increase productivity, or contain the unions. And they try to kid people that they are raising the standards.

The Fraser-Anthony Government is the only option for the 1980s. It is only Liberal National Country Party Government that can provide sustainable economic growth. Only economic growth enables us to meet our third challenge – the provision of assistance to those in need.

It is our belief that the strength of Australia depends upon the strength of Australian families. That is why we are spending almost $100 million a year on family allowances. That is why we have increased the tax rebate for single-income families.

Our programme of family support will continue: we will establish crisis accommodation for families in distress; we will initiate a new building programme for homeless persons to help, in particular, homeless youth. And, with the States and voluntary organisations, we will establish a national children’s foundation to tackle the problems of child abuse.

Fourth challenge: excellence

An important and often ignored challenge facing us all is the pursuit of excellence.

For a continuing feature of our national development is the rich, artistic and cultural talent which complements our national character. The world of film, science, literature, theatre, opera, dance and sport has produced great Australians.

Australia's record at home and abroad is a catalogue of excellence. That excellence will be fostered.

We have provided greatly increased funds for medical research and, with the Government of Victoria, we will rebuild the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. the courage to speak up for Australia.

We have increased funds for marine research in Townsville.

We will fully fund the rebuilding, in Sydney, of the National Institute of Dramatic Art and the Australian Film and Television School.

Australian film-makers and actors are winning international acclaim. We will provide special and additional incentives to induce further investment in the film industry. And we will make funds available for the support of Research Centres of Excellence in Australia's universities.

We have established a National Sports Institute in Canberra. And we will develop international standard sports facilities in the States and the Territories.

The Government will continue to support Australians of ability; to allow them, with their imagination and their capacities, to advance Australia.

Final challenge: national security

But finally, over-riding all these considerations, is the challenge to safeguard our national security. We must lead Australia safely through a world of increasing tension and difficulty; an increasingly dangerous world, a world of Afghanistan, Kampuchea, Iran and Iraq.

That is why:

  • we must contribute to the strength of the western alliance.
  • we must co-operate and consult within our region.
  • we must seize the opportunities provided by membership of the Commonwealth, and
  • we must strengthen our links with other middle-sized powers, all of whom have an important role to play.

That is why we are expanding our defence forces. That is why we are building up our reserves.

But the defence of Australia is more than men and destroyers; patrol boats and tactical fighters. The defence of Australia is the courage to speak up for Australia.

We are only 14 million people on a large continent. That is why we need to co-operate with our friends and allies. We are revitalising the 5-power defence treaty with Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand and Britain. We have contributed:

  • to the settlement of racial problems in Zimbabwe.
  • to the establishment now, on a permanent basis of a new regional grouping of the Commonwealth.
  • to a new sense of concern and participation in the Pacific region.
  • to a new phase of co-operation with ASEAN.

And there is closer co-operation with the United States today than there has been for a long time. With the world as it is, we need that co-operation.

The last five years have seen a progressive strengthening of Australia's place in the world.

Is this the time to be lukewarm to the use of freedom? Is this the time to be uncritical of socialism or communism? This is the time for responsibility, not apology. This is the time for commitment, not compromise.


Undeniably, the challenges we face together are great; but our potential as a nation is even greater.

We are entitled to be confident of our capacity to march through the decade ahead at a better pace than almost any other nation. We are entitled to be confident of our capacity to march through the decade ahead at a better pace than almost any nation. We are entitled to be optimistic about our future.

A future in which Liberal government will seek power and authority, not for its own ends, but for the service of all Australian people, their freedom and their dignity. This is the future I seek for all Australians – let us work together to achieve it. Above all, let us be proud of the country, where it stands in the world.

We owe this much to the Australian men and women who have given their talents and their dedication, their courage and their hard work, even their lives for almost 200 years to bring us the Australia we now enjoy. Let us be enthusiastic about the tasks ahead; let us communicate this enthusiasm to one another. Let us unite in full-blooded commitment to a progressive, free and independent Australia.

Responsible economic management

Only in a thriving economy — with government spending, taxes and inflation kept down — can private enterprise generate the wealth which alone can create real jobs and lasting security for all Australians and their families.

Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • a reduction in the overall Budget deficit of 23% in 1980/81.
  • a domestic Budget surplus of about $39m, for 1980/81.
  • 50% tax indexation from 1 July 1980.
  • an increase in the dependent spouse rebate to $800 from 1 July 1980.
  • a rise in the sole parent rebate to $559.
  • an 11% increase in payments to the States, NT and local government.
  • an increase in local government tax sharing entitlements of 36% to $302m (2% of personal income tax collections),
  • an inquiry into zone allowances.
  • further legislation to tighten up on tax avoidance.
  • an increase in interest rates payable on IEDs from 5% to 7%.

Building on these initiatives, in the Policy Speech the Government has announced:

  • Under our present policy of half tax indexation there will be a further tax cut of around $500 million from 1 July next year.

Industrial relations

Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • the extension of secret ballot provisions to enable individual employees to apply for a secret ballot to express their views on strike action.
  • legislation to facilitate the amalgamation of unions where there is 'a community of interest'.
  • a joint Commonwealth/State review of the arbitration system.

Employment and youth affairs

Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • a 22% boost to manpower, training and youth support programmes,
  • increased funds for training programmes to assist 236,000 people.
  • continued funding of the School-to-Work Transition programme.
  • a Commonwealth Work Experience Programme for secondary school students,
  • new initiatives for trade training.
  • a 34% increase in the Australian Public Service intake of apprentices in 1980/81.
  • extra support for the Occupational Information Programme.
  • a campaign for work and training opportunities for disabled people in support of the International Year of the Disabled,
  • International Youth Exchange Programme with South Pacific countries.
  • a $500,000 programme of assistance to youth organisations. Building on these initiatives, in the Policy Speech the Government has announced:
  • a transition allowance to encourage young people to undertake full-time training; a higher subsidy for young unemployed for training under SYETP; development of special counselling services for young unemployed ($25 million in a full year).
  • expansion of the Australian Volunteers Abroad Programme.

Harnessing our Resources

A balanced programme that develops our resources — minerals, energy reserves and farmlands—will not only create the maximum opportunities for Australians now, but will also conserve those resources and our environment for the future.

National development and energy

Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • a 50% increase in funding for alternative energy research.
  • a $52m increase in the petroleum products freight subsidy to assist rural areas.
  • commitment to funding construction of the Burdekin Dam in Queensland. Building on these initiatives, in the Policy Speech the Government has announced:
  • taxation concessions to encourage the storage of liquid fuel (10 million in 1981/82).
  • the extension of the $80 per tonne LPG subsidy for household use to traditional users in decentralised industries ($8-10 million per year).
  • that it will encourage the States to give special assistance to local government authorities in remote areas which generate electricity from diesel fuel.
  • $3 million for the States in 1981/82 for soil conservation purposes.
  • additional funds through the Commonwealth Extension Services Grants Scheme to improve access to information on fuel saving technology and equipment.

Industry and commerce

Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • a 27% increase in Government assistance to manufacturing industry,
  • a 20% loading to existing depreciation rates for plant.
  • a 55% increase in industrial research and development funding.
  • increased funds for export assistance.
  • self-employed superannuation up to $1,200 per annum to be tax deductible.
  • legislation to protect licensee and lessee petrol retailers.
  • a PJT Inquiry into petrol product prices.
  • a commitment to protecting jobs in textiles, clothing and footwear industries and a new programme of assistance including bounties, duties, quotas and tariffs.
  • a National Tourism Outlook Conference to be held in 1981. Building on these initiatives, in the Policy Speech the Government has announced:
  • extension of the private company retention allowance during the life of the next Parliament.
  • removal of the present specific exclusion from the investment allowance of plant for use in connection with amusement or recreation ($5 million).

Primary industry

In the Policy Speech the Government has announced:

  • tax concessions for capital costs involved in connecting mains electricity in rural and remote areas ($5 million).
  • three year funding of the Primary Industry Bank's operations.
  • tax concessions to compensate for the cost of private electricity generation in country areas (up to $5 million).
  • special depreciation allowance for new machinery used in agricultural, pastoral and forestry operations — also to apply to the purchase of new vessels in the fishing industry ($7 million).
  • Government financial support for wool promotion on a three year basis.
  • full tax deductibility of capital expenditure on soil conservation by a primary producer ($ 1 million).
  • maintaining concessions for farmers for full write-off of the cost of providing bores, dams and reticulation facilities.
  • withdrawals from IEDs can be made up to 31 August.


Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • signature of a new Two Airline Agreement encouraging greater competition between TAA/Ansett and allowing regional airlines to operate over sections of domestic trunk routes.
  • an inquiry into domestic airfares,
  • a $145 million major airport development programme.
  • a Hobart/Christchurch airlink by Ansett/TAA (awaiting New Zealand Government approval).
  • the introduction of international air services from Townsville to Honolulu, Los Angeles and New Zealand.
  • signature of an agreement with South Australia to enable the Adelaide/Crystal Brook railway standardisation project to commence,
  • an allocation of $3,650 million to the States, the Northern Territory and local government over the next five years for roads.
  • $30 million for Tasmanian Freight Equalisation in 1980/81. Building on these initiatives, in the Policy Speech the Government has announced:
  • a firm commitment of $10 million for the first stage of the construction of the Alice Springs/Darwin railway and the provision of funds to complete the railway within ten years.

Post and telecommunications

Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • a commitment to cable and subscription TV
  • increased funds for the ABC in 1980/81
  • commencement of multicultural TV services in Sydney and Melbourne.
  • continuing reductions in a range of telephone call charges.
  • tendering for the domestic satellite.

Science and environment

Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • approval for a $52 million rebuilding programme in the Antarctic over 10 years.
  • the nomination of the Great Barrier Reef for the World Heritage list.
  • initial allocation for construction of oceanographic vessel.
  • $16 million for Australian scientific research.
  • development of a National Conservation Strategy in co-operation with the States and the Northern Territory.

Policies for people

Helping people to become home owners, improving the standards of our children's education, and concentrating health and welfare services on the effective support of those most in need is the best way to support family life in Australia.


Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • a 3.2% increase in real terms in spending on schools in 1981.
  • a 20% increase in major allowances under the Secondary Allowance and Assistance for Isolated Children Schemes.
  • $23 million for the Disadvantaged Schools Programme to improve standards.
  • a 10% increase in Tertiary Education Allowances.

Building on these initiatives, in the Policy Speech the Government has announced:

  • increased emphasis on vocational and technical education.
  • additional capital grants of $25 million over three years (1981-83) for non-government schools in the States and NT for the provision of new places.
  • compression of the existing six levels of non-government schools to three levels in the life of the next Parliament ($5.8 million over three years).
  • an increase in the per capita grants to Level 6 non-government schools to 40% of overall government schools standard running costs in the life of the next Parliament ($44.8 million a year by the third year).
  • an additional $2 million a year for the Schools Commission from 1981 to develop educational programmes for severely handicapped children.
  • commencement of a $4 million, three year pilot programme, to provide on loan video facilities to isolated students in areas without regular television services, commencing with School of the Air students.
  • an increase in the basic boarding allowance under the Assistance to Isolated Children Scheme to $780 a year from 1981 ($2.7 million in a full year).
  • a per capita grant of $30 a pupil a year for two years to non-profit making ethnic part-time schools, provided they have an open entry policy ($3 million).
  • $1 million for the establishment of Research Centres of Excellence in a number of universities in 1981, and allocation of a further 15 million during the 1982-84 triennium.
  • additional funds for the Tertiary Education Commission to support the establishment of courses in community languages in universities and/or CAEs.


Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • a major forward commitment for welfare housing with the States involving a Commonwealth guarantee of a base funding level of $200 million a year for five years from July 1981.
  • a significant increase in home value limits under the Home Savings Grants Scheme. Building on these initiatives, in the Policy Speech the Government has announced:
  • further improvements to the Home Savings Grants Scheme, involving a full year cost of $25 million and to apply from 1 October 1980, include: — a family bonus of $500 for families with one dependent child and $1,000 for families with two or more dependent children. This would increase the maximum grant to $2,500 for families with one child and to $3,000 for families with two or more children. — an increase in the value of homes on which the maximum grant is obtainable to $60,000 reducing to nil grant at a value of $70,000. — widening of the forms of savings acceptable for the grant.
  • full tax deductibility of home insulation costs for a person's first home where that home was purchased or where construction commenced after 1 October 1980 ($5 million in a full year).


Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • a 30% rise in funds for Medical Research.
  • an additional $75m for the Hospital Benefits Reinsurance Fund.
  • an increase in the Domiciliary Nursing Care Benefit from $2 to $3 a day.
  • a new programme of 'aids for daily living' for the disabled.
  • improvements to the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme. Building on these initiatives, in the Policy Speech the Government has announced:
  • that it will join with the Victorian Government in the construction of a new building for the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (Commonwealth share: $ 11.25 million).
  • an additional $500,000 for continuation of the national development of the 'help yourself' health promotion campaign.
  • an additional $200,000 support for alcohol and drug abuse rehabilitation.
  • in line with a previous commitment, benefits will be increased from the first pension pay day in November to cover the cost of fees for 70% of patients in non-Government nursing homes.


Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • an increase in spending to $9.9 billion in 1980/81.
  • $52.5 million in 1980/81 as part of a three year $225 million programme for aged persons accommodation.
  • $4 million in 1980/81 as part of a three year $12 million programme for senior citizens centres.
  • commitment of $155 million over three years for handicapped persons facilities commencing 1 July 1980.
  • an increase in pensions in November 1980 of $3.05 ($5.10 married).
  • a substantial increase in income limits for unemployment and sickness benefits.
  • from November 1980 a $2 a week increase in unemployment benefits for those 18 and over without dependents.
  • from November 1980 extension of the supporting parents benefit to cover the first six months of sole parenthood.
  • increased allowances for children of pensioners and beneficiaries.
  • increased allowances for handicapped children to assist an estimated 27,000 children by June 1981.
  • support for the International Year of Disabled Persons 1981.
  • rights of appeal for pensioners and beneficiaries to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Building on these initiatives, in the Policy Speech the Government has announced:

  • $10 million for a three year homeless persons assistance programme, with special priority for homeless young people.
  • an increase in the personal care subsidy for residents in hostels for the aged and disabled from $15 per week to $20 per week ($5.8 million per year).
  • expansion of the Family Support Services Scheme ($10 million over three years).
  • Crisis accommodation for families in distress (in consultation with the States).
  • establishment of a National Children's Foundation (in consultation with the States and voluntary organisations).

Veterans' affairs

Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • a rise in repatriation and other benefits from November 1980.
  • consideration of only half the disability pension in determining eligibility for fringe benefits.
  • an increase in the maximum loan for Defence Service Homes to $25,000 and a reduced waiting period of 10 months.
  • establishment of an advisory committee on the Commonwealth Institute of Health study into the possible effects on veterans and their children of herbicides and defoliants including Agent Orange.

Community development

Safeguarding individual rights, promoting equality of opportunity and encouraging the pursuit of excellence in the arts are essential elements for a strong and vital community.


Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • $32 million for legal aid (in 1980/81).
  • ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
  • establishment of the Human Rights Bureau.
  • implementation of legislation to reform procedures for judicial review of administrative action.
  • the creation of an Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence.
  • special judicial inquiry into drug related organised crime.
  • the opening of the Institute of Family Studies.

Building on these initiatives, in the Policy Speech the Government has announced:

  • reintroduction of legislation on both the Human Rights Commission and Freedom of Information.
  • introduction of legislation on Complaints against the Police.

Aboriginal affairs

Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • a 19% increase in direct spending by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.
  • the establishment of the Aboriginal Development Commission from 1 July 1980 with funds of $23.8m in 1980/81.
  • $59.9 million for Aboriginal housing and health. Building on these initiatives, in the Policy Speech the Government has announced:
  • responsibility for Aboriginal housing to be transferred from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to the Aboriginal Development Commission.
  • $50 million for environmental health improvement over five years.

Immigration and ethnic affairs

Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • $28 million for adult migrant and refugee education programme.
  • commencement of multicultural TV services in Sydney and Melbourne.
  • further expansion of the telephone interpreter service.
  • the introduction of a system of nomination of overseas relatives and friends of Australian residents. Building on these initiatives, in the Policy Speech the Government has announced:
  • upgrading of adult migrant education.
  • further expansion of the telephone interpreter service.
  • a public awareness programme to encourage migrants to obtain citizenship.
  • the expansion of the Bilingual Information Officer system.
  • a review of NUMAS.
  • an extension of the refugee programme.

Home affairs

Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • increased funding for culture and the arts.
  • $7.1m for National Gallery acquisitions.
  • a 45% rise in funds for the Sports Development Programme.
  • preparation of a Plan of Action on combatting discrimination following the UN Mid Decade for Women Conference in Copenhagen.

Building on these initiatives, in the Policy Speech the Government has announced:

  • tax concessions to encourage investment in the production of Australian films ($2 million).
  • establishment of permanent homes for both the Film and TV School ($9 million over five years) and the National Institute of Dramatic Art ($3 million).
  • further development of the National Library.
  • $25 million, on a dollar for dollar basis, with the States and Territories, over three years, for the development of international standard sports facilities.
  • support for the Australian National Games and the National Athlete Award Scheme ($350,000).
  • special assistance for the development of sport and recreation for the disabled.

A strong and secure Australia

Unless we secure and defend our freedom today, there will be no free tomorrow.

Foreign affairs and defence

Since July 1980 the Government has implemented or announced:

  • $547m for foreign aid.
  • a 7% real growth in defence spending this year and in following years as part of the five year $17.6 billion programme.
  • a record $2,000 million peacetime naval construction programme.
  • a replacement for HMAS Melbourne.
  • commitment to build two new FFG-type destroyers at Williamstown,
  • funds for accelerated increases in defence manpower in regular and reserve forces.
  • payment of certain assurance premiums for reservists.
  • Darwin to be long term base for a Tactical Fighter Force Squadron.
  • tenders for 940 trucks for the Army.
  • potential of $800 million of defence work for Australian industry.

Liberal policies are designed to enable all Australians to live free and independent lives in a secure nation. They are policies to promote the enterprise and initiative which will enable people to secure their own future through the rewards of their own efforts.

They are also policies of compassion and concern for those in need.

Lead on, Liberal.

Note: Costings The programme initiatives announced in the Policy Speech will cost approximately $185 million in a full year. The taxation measures announced in the Policy Speech involve a foregoing of revenue of approximately $40 million in a full year (not including continuation of our present policy of half tax indexation).

1980 Policy speech supplementary statements

Responsible economic management

The fight against inflation will go on. The central objective of the Government's economic policy is to reduce inflation and thereby promote real economic growth and employment. Our policies will continue to be directed to:

  • maintaining the environment for economic growth and increased employment.
  • underpinning the development of our vast mineral and energy resources.
  • encouraging our rural and manufacturing industries to grow and prosper. A strong private sector is essential for economic success. It should be encouraged, not fettered, by government. This is the only way to:
  • raise our living standards.
  • create new jobs.
  • provide the capacity to help the disadvantaged.


The Government's policy has already brought Australia's inflation rate down from a record 17.6% under the Labor Government to 10.7%. This is 2-3 percentage points below the industrial world's average. This achievement is the result of five years of consistent economic policies designed to counter inflation.

The Government's own house is in order.

While maintaining a strong commitment to revenue sharing with the States and local government, overall Federal spending is on a very tight rein. Since 1976 spending has increased in real terms on average by only slightly above 1% a year — by far the lowest rate of increase for a long time. The Government has wiped out the domestic Budget deficit and, for this financial year, estimated a domestic surplus of some $39 million — the first surplus in seven years.

This has reduced the pressure on interest rates and lessened the impact on Australia of increases in those rates overseas. The individual buying a home, the investor creating jobs, the producer and the consumer, all benefit. This reflects the stability and consistency in the Government's economic management. The results are impressive:

  • the highest employment increase for 10 years — in the year to July 1980.
  • a considerable improvement in Australia's competitive position.
  • the value of exports up by one third in 1979/80.
  • foreign investment at record levels.
  • the best prospects for business in years.
  • an encouraging lift in expenditure on personal consumption.
  • huge new investments in industry and resource development.

We are now going in the right direction but we must try to reduce inflation further to create more jobs and protect people on fixed incomes. To a large extent success will depend on moderation in wage demands, a reduction in industrial disputes and continuing tight control on government spending at all levels.


The Government will maintain its declared taxation objectives:

  • to keep taxes at the lowest level possible compatible with responsible economic management and community needs.
  • to distribute the tax burden as fairly as possible, with particular concern for low income families.
  • to provide incentives for initiative and enterprise.


Taxation scales have been reduced and simplified during our term of office, We have introduced new concessions and incentives. We are clamping down on tax avoidance.

Today most individual taxpayers pay tax at the standard rate of 32c in the dollar.

The first $4,041 is tax free — $6,542 for a man with a dependent wife. Tax indexation at 50% and the increase in a wife's allowance from 1 July this year means that a wage earner on standard rate with dependent wife now pays $4.76 a week less tax.

Under our present policy of half tax indexation there will be a further tax cut of around $500 million from 1 July next year.

The top marginal tax rate has been reduced from 65c in the dollar to 60c. This is the lowest top rate since 1942. By reducing the number of steps in the tax rate scale from 7 to 3, taxpayers no longer move into higher tax brackets as quickly as before.

Hard work, overtime and promotion are worthwhile once again. We have restored the rewards for enterprise and achievement. We have also made adjustments in the tax system to strengthen our commitment to the family and those with special needs:

  • we have doubled the dependent wife's allowance to $800.
  • we have increased the sole parent's rebate by 180% to $559.
  • we have helped lower income earners by increasing the tax free threshold from $2,579 in 1975/76 to $4,041,
  • we have introduced a special tax concession for self employed persons and those not covered by employer superannuation to assist them in providing for retirement.
  • we have announced an inquiry into zone allowances for those living in remote areas.
  • we have abolished all Commonwealth estate and gift duties.

The contrast with Labor's period of office is dramatic. In those three years personal tax collections rose by 125% as men and women from all walks of life were dragged into paying higher taxes, If Labor's 1975 tax scales had remained, a taxpayer on average weekly earnings today with a dependent wife and child would be paying an extra $22.55 a week more tax.


We believe fair rewards for business are just as important as fair rewards for people. Only a healthy, profitable private sector can provide real, lasting, secure jobs. Concessions to our primary and secondary industries have been designed to foster profitability and reinvestment of profits. We have, amongst other measures:

  • reintroduced the investment allowance.
  • allowed accelerated depreciation to assist business with technological change.
  • raised the Private Company Retention Allowance from 50% to 70%, which is a benefit of $60 million in a full year.
  • introduced income equalisation deposits for primary producers.
  • abolished previous income limits on the tax averaging scheme for primary producers.
  • stimulated resource development, oil exploration and energy conservation through special tax concessions.

Overall, we have created a fair, balanced tax system. That is why we are taking a hard line on tax avoidance. We are committed to continuing our restraint on public expenditure and ensuring we get value for money so that we can continue to keep taxes down. Unlike Labor, we know that governments have no money of their own to spend — only taxpayers' money.

Industrial relations

The Government's principal objectives are to:

  • work to improve the industrial relations climate.
  • protect the rights of individuals and the public interest.
  • emphasise the responsibility of all parties to meet their obligations.
  • improve conciliation and arbitration procedures.

The Government is concerned that almost four million working days were lost through industrial diputes last year, This is an improvement on the record of over six million working days lost under the Labor Government in 1974. But the figure is still too high — and far too costly for individual employers, employees and their families,and the community as a whole. There are Constitutional limits on the Government's industrial relations powers. Nevertheless, we have already acted within those powers to protect the public interest.

We have legislated to:

  • establish the National Labour Consultative Council and ensure regular consultation at national level,
  • provide secret postal ballots for elections in Federal employer and employee organisations.
  • require industrial organisations to produce audited annual financial accounts to members.
  • protect genuine conscientious objectors to union membership,
  • improve the procedures of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
  • extend grounds for deregistration of organisations acting to damage the interests of the community.
  • strengthen the Commission's powers to deal with demarcation disputes.
  • establish the Industrial Relations Bureau to secure observance of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, Regulations and Awards.

The task is a continuing one. For the future, the Government proposes to:

  • extend the secret ballot provisions to enable individual employees to apply for a secret ballot to express their views on strike action.
  • legislate to facilitate the amalgamation of unions where there is a 'community of interest'.
  • in consultation with industry, initiate a major campaign of advice and assistance to all levels of management on the conduct and practice of industrial relations. The Government remains firmly committed to the principle of conciliation and arbitration.


We have made substantial progress in creating more jobs. 205,200 more people joined the work force in the year to August 1980. Unemployment is still high, but Australia is making better progress than many other developed countries. Through the Commonwealth Employment Service alone half a million jobs were filled last year. Those placed included 9,000 disabled people.

Three out of four jobs in Australia are in the private sector. That is why the Government is strongly committed to encouraging its growth. Over the next few years resource and manufacturing development projects will create at least 60,000 new jobs directly and thousands more indirectly throughout industry and commerce.

In our five years in Government more than 570,000 Australians have received specific help through our manpower and training programmes. We have given special emphasis in these programmes to job and apprenticeship training for young people. All our programmes have been reviewed to meet the challenge of technological change and the special needs of the nation's new development projects. We will spend $139 million on manpower, training programmes and youth support to assist another 236,000 Australians this year.

New features of job programmes will include reform of the trade training system to increase the supply of tradesmen trained in Australia. This will include shortened indentures for those with appropriate qualifications and experience and renewal of the $1,000 bonus scheme for, apprentices in short supply. Australia is now training an all time high number of apprentices and a record level of first year apprentices. To complement this scheme and the School-to-Work Transition Policy, the Government will also provide further assistance to young people who find difficulty in obtaining regular work. This will provide for:

  • a transition allowance (unemployment benefit plus $6) for young people unemployed four months or more who undertake a transition course, and a similar allowance for those unemployed for eight months or more who take up any full time training course in Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions likely to lead to employment.
  • a higher subsidy (up to $80 a week) for the training under the Special Youth Employment Training Programme (SYETP) of those unemployed 18 to 24 year olds who have been out of work for eight out of twelve months.
  • automatic eligibility to SYETP for those who successfully complete a transition course and need further on-the-job training.
  • development of special counselling services for young unemployed registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service for eight months or more.

This new programme is a further expression of the Government's commitment to assisting young people.

Harnessing our Resources


The Government is firmly committed to the development of Australia's abundant natural resources — one of the great tasks for the 80s — for the benefit of the Australian people. Its objective is to ensure that Australia takes full advantage of its unique combination of natural resources, competitively priced energy, improving cost competitiveness and proximity to major growth markets.

The Government has already acted — and will continue to act — to:

  • stimulate increased exploration and development.
  • encourage more processing of raw materials in Australia.
  • attract overseas investment, with due regard for Australian participation in resource projects and the assertion of our national interests.
  • assist development through support for essential infrastructure.

This has led to an estimated $29 billion investment in major mining and manufacturing projects, either committed or under final study. Three-quarters of this expenditure should be on goods and services bought in Australia. Around 60,000 jobs will be created directly and thousands more will be created indirectly in supply and service industries. In support of this development the Government has already approved a total investment of $4.7 billion in infrastructure programmes, e.g. railway electrification; electricity generation; and coal export facilities.


Our aim is to ensure adequate energy supplies for Australia for the long term future and to help energy hungry countries whose living standards are threatened.

Our national energy policies are based on four goals:

  • to conserve petroleum fuels to the maximum.
  • to convert from oil to other energy sources (e.g. gas, electricity, coal).
  • to explore vigorously for oil and gas.
  • to develop the production of synthetic fuels (e.g. oil from coal and shale, ethanol from biomass, methanol and fuels from renewable sources). The world is consuming oil at twice the rate it is finding it and the price of oil must reflect its scarcity value. Most of the world is energy-hungry, with few or no local substitutes for oil. Australia is energy-rich in coal and uranium and has significant resources of natural gas. Therefore we must accept and develop our responsibility as a major international supplier of energy. We can, and must, be a major energy exporter, consistent with our own domestic needs.


Australia's local oil reserves are diminishing rapidly. Without further major oil discoveries our current 67% self-sufficiency will fall to 50% in 1985, 40 % in 1990 and to as low as 10% by the turn of the century. The key to achieving our goals is the import parity pricing of oil (i.e. reflecting its world scarcity value).

The high cost synthetic fuel industry depends for its competitive survival upon the maintenance of import parity pricing. It cannot compete if oil prices are held down artificially. Yet, without synthetics Australia would be energy hungry and perilously dependent on the uncertainty of high cost oil imports. The Rundle shale oil development and other large synthetic enterprises like it are vital to ensure energy for the years ahead.


The Government will support the development of LPG as a premium fuel with top priority for automotive use. A clear price differential between LPG and petrol will be maintained. The $80 a tonne subsidy paid to domestic consumers will be extended to traditional users of LPG in decentralised industries. Where practical natural gas pipelines will be extended in country areas.


We will continue to co-operate with the States in infrastructure financing for the increased development of electricity generation capacity to meet heavier demands. Growth in power generation in this decade will be greater than in any two previous decades. The concept of an electric power grid for south-eastern Australia is now under intensive study.


The Government recognises that many countries will be compelled to develop nuclear power generation in order to meet their energy needs. Australia will supply uranium for peaceful purposes under the strictest safeguards, including the monitoring of materials and the disposal of radioactive wastes.

Research and development

The Government will continue to expand energy research and development through existing agencies particularly in the field of renewable energy sources.

Water, soil and decentralisation

The Government will also:

  • expand the Water Resources programme in partnership with the States.
  • allocate $3 million to the States in 1981/82 for soil conservation purposes.
  • continue to aid regional development programmes with the advice of the Decentralisation Advisory Board.

Manufacturing industry

A vigorous and profitable manufacturing industry is fundamental to real economic growth and new jobs. The Government is committed to the development of efficient, outward-looking Australian industries. Tariff reviews, sensitively approached, have a role to play in facilitating desirable changes in industry structure and in encouraging greater specialisation. In the longer term, the Government considers that Australia will be best served by an industry structure placing less reliance on protective measures than at present. However, movement toward this goal must necessarily be gradual and appropriately timed. Where reductions are appropriate we will give industry advance warning and time to adapt to change.

The record of industry in the past year reflects its own enterprise and the Government's success in fighting inflation:

  • internationally, the competitiveness of Australian industry is at its highest level for many years.
  • employment in manufacturing rose by 41,000.
  • factory production expanded by 7% in real terms.
  • manufacturing investment increased significantly.
  • the volume of exports reached a record level.


The Government has provided significant assistance and incentives for the private sector. It has:

  • greatly increased direct financial assistance to manufacturing industry over the past five years to a record $416 million in 1980/81.
  • provided $540 million over the five years to June 1981 for modernisation assistance through the reintroduction of the investment allowance.
  • increased depreciation rates on plant and equipment by 20% in the last Budget.
  • lifted industrial research and development grants by 180% over five years to $54 million.
  • increased export development incentives by 225% over five years to $260 million.
  • ensured Australian firms can participate in the current upgrading of Australia's defence force with business worth in excess of $800 million this year.

The Government will continue to take positive action to encourage the development of an outward-looking, specialised and innovative manufacturing sector. The Government will continue its strong support for export incentives beyond 1982. Industrial research and development grants and export incentives will continue to be essential elements of our industrial policy. We will avoid overregulation of business, which stultifies initiative and enterprise and imposes costs that must ultimately be borne by the public.

Small business

There are half a million small businesses in Australia, about 90% of Australian businesses, providing 40% of total private employment. They are a central feature of the Australian free enterprise system. The most important assistance the Government has given to small business has been to lessen the burden of inflation. We have also helped small business to help itself.

We have eased its taxation burden by $60 million a year by increasing the Division 7 retention allowance from 50% to 70%. During the life of the next Parliament this allowance will be extended further.

We have also:

  • given a special tax concession to self employed persons and employees not covered by employer superannuation arrangements to encourage them to make a proper provision for their retirement.
  • assisted with finance by relaxing constraints on the Commonwealth Development Bank's powers to lend to all small farms.
  • abolished all estate and gift duties.


Tourism is an important Australian industry and has outstanding prospects for further growth. In 1979 tourism earned around $650 million in foreign exchange and between 1973/74 and 1985 it should have created some 60,000 new jobs. The Government's policy is to promote Australia's tourist attractions and encourage a vigorous, competitive industry.

We are assisting the industry by:

  • funding a threefold increase in the Australian Tourist Commission's overseas promotion.
  • upgrading airports at Brisbane, Coolangatta, Perth, Canberra, Townsville, Darwin and Norfolk Island.
  • including the industry's overseas tourism promotion in the Export Market Development Grants Scheme.
  • introducing lower international airfares.
  • encouraging investment in new accommodation by a 2.5% depreciation allowance for hotel/motel buildings,
  • allocating funds to the Northern Territory for a tourist resort village at Ayers Rock. In addition the Government will remove present specific exclusion from the investment allowance of plant for use in connection with amusement or recreation.

Primary industry

The Government has always recognised the importance of Australia's primary industries to the national economy. We are committed to ensuring a strong, viable and efficient rural sector. We have always stood ready to assist rural industries, where and when such assistance has been necessary. We will continue to do so.

As a result of our policies:

  • our overseas markets for agricultural products have expanded and consolidated.
  • orderly marketing of commodities has been established.
  • facilities and allowances for people living in country areas have been improved.


During the next three years, the Government will continue to build on its record of achievement to ensure that primary industries remain strong and viable. Major stabilisation programmes are already in place for wheat, wool and sugar. We have abolished Federal estate and gift duties, greatly improved tax averaging provisions and introduced Income Equalisation Deposits (IEDs).

To assist further those primary producers who take advantage of the IEDs the Government will now provide for withdrawals to be made up to 31 August each year for the previous year.

We will maintain the wool reserve price scheme and guarantee that the floor in the 1981/82 season will not fall below this season's reserve price.

A new Dairy Industry Stabilisation arrangement will be negotiated with the industry, with the object of establishing a long term scheme. New underwriting arrangements will be introduced for the apple and pear industry and proposals are being developed for new support arrangements for the dried vine fruits industry.

We will continue to fund the development of a beef carcass classification system and to encourage sheepmeat exports, both through the important live sheep trade and the carcass trade.

New Measures

To assist the long term stability of rural industries:

  • Capital costs incurred by consumers on rural properties and people living in remote areas in connecting to mains electricity supply will be fully deductible in the year of expenditure.
  • The Government's continuing support for the Primary Industry Bank of Australia will be extended by the provision of a three year funding commitment for the Bank's operations.
  • The Commonwealth will seek the co-operation of the States to request States Grants Commissions to give special consideration to the needs of local government authorities in remote areas that have to generate electricity from diesel fuel because there is no alternative fuel supply.
  • Assistance will be provided through the taxation system to help compensate for the cost of private electricity generation at the principal place of residence or business in country areas where mains supply is not available.
  • The current $80 per tonne LPG subsidy for household use will be extended to traditional users of LPG in decentralised industries.
  • A special depreciation allowance of 20% a year on a prime cost basis over five years applicable to new machinery used wholly and exclusively in agricultural, pastoral and forestry operations will be introduced. The allowance will also apply to the purchase of new vessels in the fishing industry.
  • Government financial support for wool promotion will be placed on a three year basis.
  • Full deductibility of capital expenditure by a primary producer on soil conservation will be introduced.
  • $3 million will be allocated to the States in the 1981/82 financial year for soil conservation purposes.
  • In consultation with the States, additional funds will be provided through the Commonwealth Extension Services Grants Scheme to improve access by farmers to information on fuel saving technology and equipment.
  • To encourage the storage of fuel the Government will make expenditure on the purchase and installation of storage facilities for liquid and gaseous fuel to be used in carrying on a business fully deductible in the year the expenditure is incurred.
  • The Government will maintain the concession allowing farmers to write off in full in the year of expenditure the cost of providing bores, dams and reticulation facilities on their properties.

Environment and conservation

The Government's policy is to maintain a responsible balance between development and conservation. Wide-ranging measures have already been introduced to protect our physical environment and our unique flora and fauna. These are being strengthened in co-operation with the State and Territory governments, specifically through Ministerial Councils. Under a Constitutional settlement the States, the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth now share powers and resources in the seas surrounding Australia.

The Barrier Reef and the Kakadu National Park have been nominated by the Government for the World Heritage List. The Commonwealth's Register of the National Estate already includes several thousand other places in the natural and physical environment.

The Government supported international action to protect whales and has banned whaling in Australian waters.


The Government has already recognised the World Conservation Strategy and will develop an Australian Strategy in co-operation with the States and the Northern Territory.

For the future, the Government reaffirms its decision not to allow drilling on the Barrier Reef or any drilling or mining that could damage the Reef. In co-operation with the Queensland Government the Federal Government is developing a plan for an extension of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The Government has provided substantial funds for:

  • protection of the Alligator Rivers region from the effects of uranium mining.
  • continuation of the Biological Resources Study of Australian flora and fauna.
  • conservation of Antarctic flora and fauna.
  • the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
  • the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
  • voluntary conservation organisations.


The Government's transport policy aims to develop and maintain an energy-efficient, safe and socially acceptable transport system.


We will encourage healthy competition between the domestic airlines and continue to support the extension of innovative fares and cheap advance purchase fares, Overall, in real terms domestic economy airfares and freight rates are today at the same level as in 1968, while the cheapest airfare between Perth and Sydney is lower today than it was three years ago. The Government has established an inquiry into the structure of domestic airfares.

Following the introduction of new cheaper international airfares in 1979, tourist visitors to Australia have increased by over 25%. The International Civil Aviation Policy will be reviewed in 1981 as previously announced. A number of matters will be considered, including the question of Qantas' rights as Australia's sole international flag carrier; the desirability of international charter flights and Laker's proposed Sky Train; and the servicing of international regional routes.

The Government will legislate to ratify the recently signed Two Airlines Agreement which will enhance competition between Ansett and TAA. Under the Agreement air freight will no longer be restricted to Ansett and TAA, and regional airlines will be able to operate over sections of the domestic trunk routes. Conditions on the type of aircraft imported by regional airlines and air freight operators will be liberalised and the development of commuter services will be encouraged by the introduction of a supplementary airline licence.

The Government will retain TAA as a competitive, commercially oriented airline.

We will continue to provide special subsidies for aviation services to remote centres.

New or expanded facilities will be provided at Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Coolangatta, Darwin, Perth, Townsville and Norfolk Island at an estimated cost of $400 million over five years.


A major project is the construction of a railway from Alice Springs to Darwin. This will link Darwin into the national railway network, boost the development of the Northern Territory and be a significant addition to defence facilities. The Government has firmly committed $10 million to the first stage and will provide funds needed to complete the railway within ten years.

The new $140 million railway line from Tarcoola to Alice Springs has already been completed and, with the standardisation of the Adelaide/Crystal Brook line over the next three years, Adelaide and Darwin will be ultimately linked by a standard gauge railway. The continent will then be spanned by a mainline railway system from north to south and east to west.

In association with the States the Government will continue overall mainline upgrading programmes. These programmes include electrification of important sections and links to ports and major resource developments.


The Government will provide $3,650 million to the States, Northern Territory and local government over the next five years to assist in the development of our road network. It will proceed vigorously with the national highway programme and will ensure that future national road construction is undertaken under the tender and contract system. The Government will encourage the further development of the road transport industry and pay particular attention to the role of the owner-driver.

The 1978 Urban Transport Assistance Act provides assistance to the States for improving urban public transport facilities and increased emphasis will be given to the introduction of energy-efficient systems.


Sea transport plays an important role in the movement of freight and bulk commodities.

The Government has co-operated with the States to develop uniform shipping laws making it easier for Australian ship owners to exploit developing opportunities for coastal shipping. The first four of a new generation of coal fired ships have recently been ordered by shipowners. The Government has established a special committee to provide a focus through which the sea-going unions and the ship owners can work together to revitalise sea transport. We will give special attention to the need to develop commercial and competitive opportunities for Australian flag vessels in overseas liner and bulk trades.

Special attention is being given to civil coastal surveillance in Australian waters for health, immigration and customs purposes. Effective protection is essential for off shore installations in Bass Strait and on the North West Shelf.

Post and telecommunications

The Government's policy is to:

  • ensure all Australians get the best possible communications services at the lowest cost,
  • promote a real element of choice in the broadcasting system.
  • support the ABC to develop and continue high quality broadcasting services.
  • develop multicultural and ethnic broadcasting services.

The introduction of Community Access 80 has assisted many people. Basic tariffs for telephone charges have not been increased since 1975 and there have been major reductions in charges for long distance telephone calls in daytime, off peak, evening and lunchtime periods; telex calls; and international telecommunication calls. Some long distance telephone charges will be reduced further from Easter 1981.

By 1985 all but 10,000 subscribers will be connected to automatic exchanges, and the remainder by 1990. A system to provide subscribers with full details on their accounts of long distance calls will be introduced. Increases in the cost of basic postal charges have been held back to less than the rise in the CPI.

A major review of the administration and regulation of citizens band radio services is in progress. There have been significant reductions in the licence fees for the use of radio communication services and the establishment of a differential for private and non-private users. Major developments in broadcasting have included:

  • a complete review of the role and activities of the ABC and an increase in its funds.
  • introduction of multicultural broadcasting.
  • establishment of commercial FM radio.
  • a decision in principle to introduce cable and subscription TV.
  • development of proposals to bring a much wider diversity of broadcasting services to regional areas.

The Government has decided to establish a domestic communications satellite system. A Request for Tender is to be issued by 30 October this year, and will close on 1 March 1981. In the interim the system will be owned and managed by the Overseas Telecommunications Commission. Further consideration will be given to the possibility of private enterprise involvement in the satellite system. The Government has also used an international communications satellite — INTELSAT — to extend ABC television to remote areas.

Policies for people

The family

The family is the focus of Australian life.

That is why the Government is extending its social security and welfare policies for families, especially those most in need. These policies also cover sole parents and disabled people of all ages. The assistance for these groups is identified in the Government's education, housing, health, social security and other welfare programmes. The Commonwealth shares the responsibility for these programmes, with State and Territory Governments. The financial commitment is large and this year the Government has allocated increased funds to ensure that the real level of these services is maintained.


The Government will spend $2,867 million on education in 1980/81. Its objectives in education are to:

  • promote freedom of choice and equality of opportunity in schooling.
  • achieve standards of excellence at all levels.
  • help the disadvantaged in the community. The Government will direct more of its resources to vocational and technical education. Its priority is to provide more help for students to make the transition from school to work. The Commonwealth reaffirms its commitment to provide $150 million over five years for the School-to- Work Transition programme.

The Commonwealth meets virtually the entire cost of Universities and Colleges of Advanced Education; approximately $1,280 million a year. The Government reintroduced triennium funding arrangements for these institutions in 1979 and this provides them with a greater capacity for forward planning.

Grants to the States for Government schools in 1981 will be maintained at the same real levels as in 1980. Declining school enrolments mean this is an effective increase in expenditure on a per student basis by the Commonwealth. The Government will maintain its policy of limiting grants to non-government schools to movements in the average cost of educating a student in a government school.

The programmes of aid for disadvantaged schools and disadvantaged country areas will be continued, These programmes have helped 400,000 students in 1350 schools throughout Australia this year. Special provision has also been made to:

  • assist Aboriginal children in their schooling.
  • provide multicultural education and help non-English speaking migrant children improve their English language skills.
  • assist refugee and handicapped children.

New Commitments

New commitments include:

  • an increase in the per capita grant to Level 6 non-government schools to 40% of average government schools standard running costs during the life of the next Parliament.
  • compression of the existing six levels of non-government schools (as defined by the Schools Commission) to three levels in the life of the next Parliament.
  • additional capital grants of 625 million over three years, 1981-83, for new places in non-government schools.
  • a special allocation of 62 million a year from 1981 to develop education programmes for severely handicapped children.
  • a per capita grant of 630 a year for two years to non-profit, part-time ethnic schools providing supplementary community language and cultural programmes.
  • funds to establish new courses in community languages in universities and/or colleges of advanced education.
  • funds for the establishment of Research Centres of Excellence in a number of universities at a cost of 61 million in 1981 and a further 15 million during the 1982-84 triennium.
  • a three year pilot programme to provide on loan video facilities for isolated students in remote areas, beginning with students of the School of the Air.
  • for those who qualify, an increase in 1981 to $780 a year for the basic boarding allowance under the Assistance to Isolated Children Scheme.


Today, 73% of Australians own or are purchasing their homes. The Government strongly supports home ownership and will continue to give a high priority to the availability of housing finance. Over a million home seekers have been helped to get housing loans in the last five years. Housing loan approvals were at a record level last year.

Home savings grants

The Government has progressively developed the Home Savings Grants Scheme to assist first home buyers. We will now go further and:

  • provide from 1 October 1980 a new Home Savings Grant Family Bonus of $500 for families with one dependent child and $1,000 for families with two or more dependent children. The respective maximum grants, therefore, will increase to $2,500 and $3,000.
  • increase the value limit for which a maximum grant is payable to $60,000, reducing to nil at $70,000.
  • widen the form of acceptable savings.
  • allow full tax deductibility of home insulation costs for a person's first home where that home was purchased or where construction commenced after 1 October this year.

Funding for welfare housing was increased in the last Budget. The Commonwealth/State Housing Agreement has been changed to give low and moderate income earners increased opportunities to own their own homes. The Government has announced a major forward commitment for welfare housing with the States. This provides a guarantee by the Commonwealth of a base funding level of $200 million a year for five years from July 1981, with specific arrangements for concessional interest rates and grants for rental housing assistance, interest subsidies and leasing.


The Government is determined that all Australians should have access to high quality health care. It recognises the important part the private hospitals have in our health services. It is totally committed to ensuring the viability and preservation of private hospitals, especially the non-profit component.

We established the first ever inquiry into Australia's hospitals seeking recommendations on how waste could be reduced and efficiency increased. The Inquiry's report will be considered as a matter of urgency.

The provision of health services involves substantial cost and this needs to be contained within a responsible economic policy. This year the total is over $3,000 million.

We have increased assistance to help the aged, chronically ill and disadvantaged.

In line with a previous commitment, benefits will be increased from the first pension pay day in November to cover the cost of fees for 70% of patients in non-government nursing homes.

The Government this year has increased its financial support for medical research by 30% and has decided to:

  • fund on a $ for $ basis with the Victorian Government a new building for the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research at an estimated cost to the Commonwealth of $ 11.25 million.
  • significantly increase funds for alcohol and drug rehabilitation programmes.

In addition, more funds will be allocated to continuing the national development of the 'Help Yourself' health promotion campaign.

Social security and welfare

Historically, many of the major advances in social security and welfare have been introduced by Liberal Governments. In the past five years, the Government has directed more resources to assist the aged, the disabled and other disadvantaged groups than any previous government since Federation. Total spending on social security and welfare expenditure has risen from $5 billion in 1975/76 to almost $10 billion in 1980/81. Major reforms have included:

  • replacement of the means test on pensions by a simple income test and introduction of automatic indexation of pensions.
  • cash assistance direct to mothers under the Family Allowance Scheme.
  • introduction of a supporting parents' benefit,
  • expansion of home-care services for the aged and welfare services for special need groups, e.g. Aboriginals, migrants and disabled people.
  • programmes to assist families and children.

The recent Budget increased most rates of unemployment benefit and subsidies for 'meals on wheels' for aged people.

Allowances for the children of pensioners and beneficiaries were also increased. A high priority has been given to increased assistance to disabled people. The amount has more than doubled in five years to $1,060 million in 1980/81, The fixed rate income-test-free pension for those 70 and over was maintained.

There are to be further advances in social security and welfare. The Government has dediced to:

  • allocate $10 million for a three year capital programme for homeless persons with special provisions for homeless young people.
  • in consultation with the States, establish crisis accommodation for families in distress.
  • establish in conjunction with the States and voluntary organisations a National Children's Foundation to create greater public awareness of child abuse and to encourage support from voluntary organisations in this field.
  • commit more funds over the next three years for an expanded Family Support Services Scheme.

The Government will also increase the personal care subsidy for residents in hostels for aged and disabled people from $15 to $20 a week.

Veterans' affairs

The Government has kept the needs of wartime ex-servicemen and women and their dependents under constant review. In its term of office it has made significant increases in veterans allowances and benefits:

  • major pensions have been indexed.
  • extra help has been provided for the more seriously disabled.
  • access to fringe benefits has been increased by liberalising eligibility for the Pensioner Health Benefit Card.
  • service pensions have been made available for Allied Veterans of all wars.

The Government has continued to support and upgrade the major Repatriation Hospital in each State and many other veterans' medical institutions. It has increased the Defence Service Homes loan to $25,000 and reduced by four months the waiting time for houses being built. Loans for house construction are immediate.

Human rights

The Government is actively committed to the protection of human rights. The procedures it has already introduced within Australia are working effectively. It has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The procedures for appeals by citizens against decisions of tribunals within Commonwealth jurisdiction on Security, Administration and Repatriation matters have been strengthened and a Human Rights Bureau established.

Further action to protect the rights of individuals will include:

  • establishment of a Human Rights Commission.
  • freedom of information legislation to give greater public access to Government policy and decision making.
  • new procedures to investigate complaints about police conduct. Family Law Courts are now in operation and emphasis is being placed on conciliation and agreement between parties in matters of custody and property.

Law enforcement and drugs

The Government has accepted the recommendations of the report of the Royal Commission on Drugs and Law Enforcement. As a result it has given to the Australian Federal Police the responsibility of enforcing Commonwealth law against imported drugs. Other proposals arising from the report include:

  • a Joint Commonwealth/State Bureau of Criminal Intelligence.
  • international law enforcement arrangements.
  • forensic science services.

The Government is also seeking the co-operation of the New South Wales, Victorian and Queensland Governments for a judicial inquiry into drug related organised crime and corruption in law enforcement agencies.


The Government's principal objectives are to enable Aboriginals to be as free as other Australians to enjoy a lifestyle of their own choosing, to manage their own affairs and to ensure that their rights are protected, Assistance for housing, health, education and employment are high priorities.

The new Aboriginal Development Commission of ten Aboriginal members began work this year. The Commission will acquire land for Aboriginal communities and groups, lend money to Aboriginals and finance business enterprises. It has a budget of almost $24 million, of which $10 million is the Government's first contribution for investment purposes.

Self management

Further responsibilities will be passed by the Government to the Commission. In future, the annual grants for Aboriginal housing, other than those to the States, will be placed under the responsibility of the Commission.

The Government's special programmes to assist Aboriginals include:

  • thirteen new projects this year in community health, alcohol rehabilitation, health, education and nutrition.
  • $22 million for welfare rental accommodation in addition to nearly $50 million through the Department's other programmes.
  • increased accommodation in Aboriginal hostels,
  • subsidised job training and new community development projects.
  • special projects with local government agencies, the private sector and Aboriginal organisations to provide more jobs.

The Government will commit $50 million over five years for environmental health improvement.

This year over 7,000 young Aboriginals are receiving post-school training. The Government is consulting with Aboriginals, mining companies and State Governments to establish practical means of resolving problems where there may be a conflict between Aboriginal and development interests.

The National Aboriginal Conference, a 35-member all-Aboriginal elected body and the Aboriginal Development Commission, an appointed 10-member all-Aboriginal body, have continued to be sources of valuable advice to the Government. The Conference recommended — following the electoral education campaign conducted by the Electoral Office — that voluntary electoral enrolment for Aboriginals should be changed to compulsory enrolment. This would put them in the same position as all other Australians. The Government will legislate to do this.

Ethnic affairs

The Government's innovations and assistance programmes for migrants have done much to increase their self reliance and integration within the Australian community. These will continue on an increased scale.

Most of the specific recommendations of the Galbally report on migrant and ethnic problems have been carried out or are well advanced. More than $25 million has been provided this year to carry on this work. A further $28 million has been allocated for the extension of the adult migrant education programme; an increase of 23% to accommodate 115,000 enrolments this year. The Government will upgrade migrant education in such areas as the Home Tutor Scheme.

The Government is introducing new programmes to give impetus to the development of our multicultural society. It has accepted a recommendation of the newly established Institute of Multicultural Affairs to provide per capita grants to non-profit making ethnic part-time schools providing supplementary community language and cultural programmes.

More migrant centres

Migrant Resource Centres are being increased throughout Australia. More than 130 bilingual information officers have been recruited to work among migrants. In the future officers will cover more geographical areas and more languages. More orientation courses are being conducted, This year 17,000 adults will be assisted compared with 3,000 two years ago.

Ethnic radio has continued to flourish and the Government remains committed to multicultural television.

The telephone interpreter service is to be expanded, especially in remote areas like the Pilbara, the Riverina and Mt Isa.

The Government will mount a public awareness programme to encourage migrants to obtain Australian citizenship. A new system of nominations of relatives and friends of Australian residents has been developed. The Government will undertake a review of the Numerical Migrant Assessment System (NUMAS) to see if it continues to reflect adequately the extent to which Australian residents can assist in settlement of their relatives.

The refugee programme will be extended to include provision for migrant entry of people from a diverse range of minority groups having connections with Australia.

Women and youth

The Government remains deeply committed to equality of opportunity for women and is active within the limits of its Constititional authority to achieve this. The National Women's Advisory Council, established by the Government in 1978, continues to be active in an advisory and research role.

The Government will introduce legislation in the Australian Capital Territory to:

  • proscribe discrimination on grounds of sex in areas such as employment, land, housing, accommodation and the provision of goods and services.
  • establish procedures for the confidential conciliation of all complaints about discrimination and provide for civil proceedings if conciliation fails.

Outside the ACT anti-discrimination legislation is largely a matter for the States.

The Government will maintain its commitment to youth and the National Youth Advisory Group, which it established, will continue to advise on the aspirations and needs of our young men and women. Support for the work of national youth organisations has been increased to $500,000 this year. A programme of international youth exchanges between Australia and South Pacific countries has been initiated and funded by the Government.


The Government's objective is to promote excellence in the creative and performing arts.

Through the Australia Council and other statutory bodies, including the International Cultural Corporation it has funded national and international cultural activities on an increasing scale. This year the Australia Council has had its grant increased to $29.4 million.

Artbank was established this year and funds totalling $650,000 have been provided to date to buy works of Australian artists and, through the display of these works, encourage a wider public appreciation of Australian art. Tax deductions for gifts of works of art and cultural properties will now be permanent.

The Government legislated this year for a Museum of Australia, and will continue its support for the construction of the National Gallery and the expansion of National Library services, including the application of new technology to its services.

The Australian Film industry, which has already established a reputation for quality and enterprise, will be given a new tax incentive. The Government will, in future, allow 150% of capital expenditure in the acquisition of the initial copyright in new Australian films to be eligible for write-off in the first year of expenditure and an exemption of an amount of net earnings by an investor in such a film up to 50% of his investment. Appropriate safeguards will be incorporated to prevent abuse of this concession. The scheme will be reviewed prospectively after three years.

Other initiatives will include funds for permanent homes for the Film and Television School ($9 million) and for the National Institute of Dramatic Art ($3 million).


Australia is a sporting nation. The Government will continue to support its athletes and their organisations in the pursuit of excellence. It has established an Australian Institute of Sport to help promising athletes. Mr Don Talbot, the distinguished swimming coach is returning from America to be its Director.

The Government has assisted in the development of programmes of national sporting associations, the education of sports administrators and the provision of facilities of international standard. This year the Government has allocated almost $13 million for the extension of these programmes.

A major initiative, in co-operation with the States, will be to provide funds for the holding of National Games beginning in 1983. Next year, as a forerunner to the National Games, the Government will provide $200,000 for special games at Brisbane using facilities being constructed for the Commonwealth Games in 1982.

A sum of $150,000 will be provided in 1981 under the National Athlete Award Scheme to assist our world-ranked athletes with training and competition. The Government will also continue to provide funds for pre-event training for the 1982 Commonwealth Games and the 1984 Olympic Games.


Over the next three years the Government will provide $25 million, on a dollar for dollar basis with the States and Territories, for the further development of international facilities. The Federal Government will identify facilities and priorities in consultation with State and Territory governments. Facilities contemplated include:

  • New South Wales — a multi-purpose indoor sports hall.
  • Victoria — an equestrian centre and hockey field.
  • Queensland — a shooting complex.
  • South Australia — an indoor aquatic centre.
  • Western Australia — a ballistics complex.
  • Tasmania — a rowing and canoeing course.
  • Northern Territory — a multi-purpose indoor sports hall.

The Government will also provide funds to help establish an international standard motor racing circuit in the Australian Capital Territory.

Special funds will also be provided for sport and recreation programmes for mentally and physically handicapped people and will be administered by a new body of representatives from major voluntary national organisations. The Government will provide assistance for Australian teams of disabled athletes to attend the next Paraplegic Olympics.

A strong and secure Australia

Foreign affairs

The Government's foreign policy objectives are to:

  • safeguard the independence and security of Australia, support our friends and allies in a practical way.
  • play a responsible role in our own region and the wider world.
  • adhere to the principles and practice of the United Nations Charter.
  • seek to promote dialogue to bridge the gap between rich and poor countries.
  • respond realistically to changes in the strategic international and regional environment.

The Government has taken initiatives in alerting the nation to the emerging realities of Soviet power and supported international moves to limit its threat to world peace. We condemned the Soviet-backed Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea and were the first nation to offer humanitarian assistance, We have pledged more than $14 million to relief programmes. The Government has continued to seek, in conjunction with ASEAN, a settlement in Kampuchea premised on the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops and free elections by the Kampuchean people. We have condemned the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and supported the United States in protest measures.

We supported international protests to Iran on the hostages issue. The Government is closely examining the means of enhancing defence co-operation with the United States to facilitate American Indian Ocean operations.


Our foreign policy is global and will continue to be so. We played a major role in achieving acceptance of the proposals for constitutional settlement in Zimbabwe and independence for that nation. Australia has continued to contribute to the global dialogue aimed at bridging the gap between North and South. In this regard the Committee on Australia's relations with the Third World presented its report to the Government in 1979. The scope and implementation of Australia's aid programme has been further developed. Aid expenditure has been increased to approximately $547 million in 1980/81. The Government decided to permit tax deductibility of donations to eligible non-government organisations involved in the provision of overseas aid.

The Government will provide additional support for the programme of the Australian Volunteers Abroad.

Throughout its term of office the Government has been strengthening Australia's relations with major friendly powers and regional groups by:

  • reaffirmation of the ANZUS Treaty in Canberra in 1979 and in Washington in 1980.
  • initiatives within the Commonwealth of Nations and its regional members which developed the concept of regular regional meetings now known as Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting (CHOGRM).
  • consolidating our relations with Great Britain and the other countries of Western Europe.
  • new arrangements for closer links and regular consultations with Japan.
  • a steady consolidation of our relations with China.


In the region we have:

  • increased consultation and formal links at Government and private sector level with ASEAN member countries.
  • announced an enlarged three year rolling aid programme to the South Pacific.
  • given unequivocal support for the independence and territorial integrity of Vanuatu.
  • sponsored a study of the concept of a Pacific Community arrangement.
  • taken initiatives for the development of our traditional relationship with New Zealand.
  • completed the Torres Strait Treaty fixing the sea boundary between Australia and Papua New Guinea.
  • negotiated maritime delimitation agreements with Australia's neighbours and proclaimed a 200 mile Australian fishing zone.

Australia has been elected to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and continues to take an active part in the work of United Nations agencies.

Australia has played a leading role in the development of a Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. As a result Hobart has been selected as the site of the headquarters of the international commission.

The Government proposes to build on this record in pursuing the declared objectives of its foreign policy and will:

  • strengthen our regional relationships.
  • work constructively for a better balance between the rich nations and the poor.

Much has been done. There is still much we can do, having established a credible foreign policy and proved to be a reliable ally after the unease and uncertainty of the Labor Party's term of Government.


The Government is bringing Australia's defence forces up to a new level of strength and preparedness. The object is to:

  • maintain the security of the nation.
  • enable us to fulfil our commitments to friends and allies.
  • contribute to the stability of our region.

We cannot ignore recent events in the Middle East, Afghanistan and South-East Asia. They have given an increased strategic significance to the Indian Ocean and to bases in Northern and Western Australia. This has been recognised in our planning and the Government is closely examining means of enhancing defence co-operation with the United States in Indian Ocean operations.


The defence expansion will include:

  • a record peace time naval construction programme estimated to cost $2,000 million.
  • a reorganisation of the tactical roles of the permanent Army.
  • a substantial increase in the Army Reserve and the acquisition of new equipment to provide increased mobility and firepower.
  • a new Tactical Fighter Force and new capabilities and technologies for the RAAF.
  • new bases in the north and west of the continent.
  • high level defence co-operation with regional neighbours.

The current Five Year Defence Plan provides for a sustained growth in expenditure totalling some $17,600 million by 1985. In that period the permanent defence force will reach 76,600.

Reserve forces are set to reach 30,000 by mid 1981. The Government will pay certain assurance premiums for Reservists who voluntarily take out an assurance cover to provide compensation for themselves and their families higher than that provided under the Compensation Act for injuries while on part-time service.

The Government has not contemplated and does not intend to contemplate conscription for the armed forces in peacetime.

New bases

The current and proposed defence facilities in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory, will ring the top half of the continent. New patrol boat bases are being built in Cairns and Darwin and sites are being examined in the North-West. A new airfield will be sited at Derby and the Learmonth base is being upgraded. The Darwin airfield will be equipped as a base for one of the three new Fighter Squadrons.

The Government will spend $1,400 million on defence equipment, stores and facilities this year. This will provide large business opportunities for Australian industry and should help to foster greater self-reliance in industry support for the defence forces.

The whole thrust of Government defence policy, in both its civil and military aspects, is towards greater self-reliance. This is in the Nation's best security interests.

Liberal policies are designed to enable Australians to live free and independent lives in a secure nation. They are policies to promote the enterprise and initiative which will enable people to secure their own future through the rewards of their own efforts. They are also policies of compassion and concern for those in need.