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Thursday, 18 October 1984
Page: 1975

Senator SIBRAA —Has the Minister representing the Treasurer seen the remarks of the former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, that Australia has had a good year since the election of the Hawke Labor Government? How does that remark compare with the messages of economic doom and gloom by the present Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, Mr Peacock?

Senator GRIMES —I did see the interview in the Melbourne Sun-News Pictorial with the former Prime Minister and it worried me considerably when I saw that he said we had had a good year. But then I sat down and thought about it and realised that for once I did agree with him. We have had a good year. As Senator Button has said, in the year we have been in government there has been an increase in jobs of 250,000. The inflation rate has dropped to the levels of those of our Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development partners. Interest rates have fallen and, above all, there has been much increased confidence in this country. All the cries of the Jeremiahs such as Senator Sir John Carrick and the former Treasurer, Mr Howard, all those people who have been wandering around this country saying that gloom and doom are coming, are not believed by the electorate, as the Bulletin shows, and now we find that they are not believed even by the discredited former Prime Minister.

The former Prime Minister is not standing for election. If one reads the interview one gets the impression that he is not too keen on his former colleagues doing any good in the election. Therefore, the former Prime Minister is in a position where he can say the truth, simple and unvarnished. He said that we have had a good year. He said that we will have a better year next year and a better year the year after. For the first time, I agree with him. Obviously Senator Lajovic does not agree with his former leader. Senator Lajovic is leaving us soon. He backed the wrong side and he is getting out, as he did in the 1940s.

Senator Walters —I raise a point of order, Mr President. Senator Grimes is straying just a little too far from the question.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask the Minister to respond to Senator Sibraa's question .

Senator Grimes —I have finished, Mr President.