March Labour Force figures; employment; economy; News Corporation; insider trading; New South Wales Budget – Doorstop Interview

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April 7, 2004
Labor’€™s land taxes; stamp duty; capital gains tax; negative gearing; Iraq – Interview with Alan Jones, 2GB
April 13, 2004

March Labour Force figures; employment; economy; News Corporation; insider trading; New South Wales Budget – Doorstop Interview


Doorstop Interview

1343 Malvern Road, Malvern

Thursday, 8 April 2004
12.30 pm

SUBJECTS: March Labour Force figures;employment; economy; News Corporation;

insider trading; New South Wales Budget


Well, I think all Australians will welcome today’s Labour Force figures,

because today’s Labour Force figures showed that 67,000 new jobs were

created in Australia and 39,000 new full-time jobs were created in Australia

in the month of March. With that strong job creation in the month of March,

unemployment has fallen to 5.6 per cent, and that is the lowest it has been

for 23 years. More Australians are in work than ever before, and unemployment

is now as low as it has been in the last 23 years. And the good news is, a lot

of that job growth was in full-time jobs with 39,000 full-time jobs being created

in the month of March. This is the payoff from good economic management, if

we can continue to keep our economy growing, if we can keep interest rates low,

if we can lock down low inflation and if we can continue the reform of the Australian

economy, the payoff will be jobs, and job opportunities for young Australians

and job opportunities for older Australians as well. Now, with a figure like

this, we shouldn’t rest, we should learn that the job opportunities of

today are the result of hard economic work and it is the hard economic work

of today that will give job opportunities tomorrow. We have to continue to work

at strong economic management in this country so that more Australians can have

job opportunities.


You must be very pleased with (inaudible) in an election year?


Well, unemployment has not been as low as this in Australia for 23 years, and

that is because more Australians are in work than ever before. Getting people

into work is the reason why we try and run a strong economy, and you can’t

have job creation without business profitability and business profitability

has been strong. So if we can keep the economy strong and interest rates low

and business profitability high, we can have job opportunities as the payoff

of good economic management.


But does this pressure interest rates, judging that the economy is stronger?


The unemployment rate has been below 6 per cent now for seven months. Five

or ten years ago, it was thought that Australia wouldn’t be able to run

unemployment below 6 per cent consistent with low inflation, but we have, we

have now for seven months. So, we don’t want to be afraid of creating

more jobs in Australia, we ought to try and create more jobs in Australia. This

is what economic policy is all about, so, let’s not try and look for a

dark side in relation to these figures, let’s take this as a spur to continuing

economic reform.


What does it say though about the economy, where is it in the cycle?


It shows that the economy is strong, it has been buffeted in recent times,

we had the worst drought in Australia’s history, and we are still not

through that yet. We have had a very rapid appreciation on our exchange rate,

and the largest economy in the world, America, went into recession, so the economy

has been buffeted. The fact that we came through it and we still had jobs growth,

is testament to the resilience of the Australian economy.


Does it show that the economy is perhaps growing stronger than you previously



I don’t think that we would find any reason to revisit growth forecasts,

except to say this, that we update them twice a year, one at mid-year and one

in the Budget. And our next update is forecast in the (inaudible) Budget, next



Now, Australia is set to lose a pretty major company in the form of News Corp.

What is your feeling about that?


Well, let me make this point, News Corporation started in Australia, it was

incorporated in Australia and has been a phenomenally successful company and

it has now become an international company.

I think Australians will be sad to see the incorporation of News Corporation

change, if that in fact occurs, but having said that, News Corporation has been

a foreign corporation for quite some time now, it is majority foreign owned,

so it is not as if the ownership of News Corporation is changing, what is changing

is the place of incorporation of the company, if that is approved, then the

corporation would not be in Australia, that would be somewhere else, but that

is still subject to approval including approvals from the Foreign Investment

Review Board.


But does Australia lose a big taxpayer.


No, News Corporation will still be liable for tax on its Australian income.


Do you have a response to the New South Wales Budget, the announcement about

stamp duty and land tax?


Well, if the New South Wales Government had been managing its budget properly,

at a time when the Australian economy is strong, as you have seen from today’s

figures, they wouldn’t be needing to hike taxes, and yet they are. They

are introducing new taxes at a time when the economy is strong, and this is

testament to the fact that they have taken their eye off the ball and have not

been managing their budget properly, and as a consequence, people in New South

Wales will pay higher taxes, and the higher taxes that they will pay will start

off with higher taxes on investments, that will not be good for New South Wales,

that will make things more adverse for investors in New South Wales, and there

is a big lesson here. The lesson is, that just as Bob Carr didn’t tell

you about the tax rises before he was re-elected, Mr Latham is not telling you

about his proposed tax rises either. And if he is elected there will be no comfort

to find out about it afterwards, find out about them now, that is what I say.


Treasurer, just going back to the jobs growth, do you see the trend continuing,

do you think that we will be adding more jobs throughout the year?


Look, I think employment growth will continue, yes I do. The level at which

it will continue will be a matter that we will be carefully assessing now, and

we will be putting our forecast down in the May Budget.


There are two people appearing in court today on insider trading charges, I

was just wondering if there has been any movement on any (inaudible) reform

of insider trading?


Well, I think that our insider trading laws are quite tight, and they are among

the tightest in the world, and if people are charged under them, then it is

a question for the courts to determine their cases. We have had convictions

in Australia in the past, and if there is evidence to be presented, it should

be presented to a court. OK, thank you.