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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 1769

Senator CARRICK (New South Wales) -By this Supply Bill (No. 3) the Government seeks to increase Government expenditure by some $36m. The public should understand that it does so at a time when, by a variety of measures including many savage measures, it seeks to cut back, and is in fact succeeding in cutting back, the private sector of the community and the expenditure of every family throughout Australia. Here we have the very malaise of a socialist government. This is a government which believes that at a time of record inflation it is good for the Government to increase its spending but bad for the ordinary family in Australia to do so. The socialist father knows best. It can, by cracking us on the knuckles with a ruler, tell us that we must cut down. But it, of course, can expand. The public should understand this because at the moment inflation is running at something like 14 per cent. In the December quarter it is due to increase even further. This is robbing the Australian people of their savings and of their spending power. The Government, by deliberate action, has created this inflation. Inflation was at some 4.8 per cent and falling when the Government took over. In the decades beforehand it had been running at a world record low, averaging 2.5 per cent. This was something unprecedented. Now it is running at 14 per cent and rising. This situation was created by the Government by its own deliberate device. The Government, in seeking action which it says will control inflation, is seeking to cut back spending by ordinary families. Today every family which seeks to buy a home and finds that it cannot do so because loans for building have fallen some 20 per cent or more, because the money is not there, or because the costs are too high, must understand that this situation has been deliberately contrived by the Government. It has sought to reduce the ability of ordinary individuals to buy goods and homes.

In a time of inflation when there is more money than goods, a socialist seeks to reduce the money to meet the supply of goods. Of course, a non-socialist would take the common sense attitude and increase the supply of goods to meet the supply of money. That is what the Opposition in the Senate and elsewhere would put forward. The fact of the matter is that against this request by the Government for some $36m extra to spend in the Government sector is the recent series of taxes and charges imposed on petrol, smokes, liquor, postal rates and a variety of things to get more money. The public must pay. One must realise also that the most disastrous step taken by the Government has been that it has contrived that the general overdraft interest rate should go up 1.75 percent, in the knowledge that with it the ordinary commercial interest rates, the hire purchase interest rates, and the homes loans interest rates would all go up by 2 per cent, 3 per cent or 4 per cent. So today commercial borrowing is running at something like 14 per cent or 15 per cent. The public should understand that every time it seeks to buy something and cannot do so, because of a shortage of money or because of the higher price, this is by deliberate action of the Government in using the interest rate savagely to restrain the flow of money, or to restrain the flow of goods. Today Senator Cavanagh said that it is not interest rates that are holding up housing, it is the shortage of resources. Let me examine that. While interest rates are holding up housing by cutting back the flow of money, the flow of resources is holding up housing as it is holding up the supply of automobiles, refrigerators and every other commodity in the community.

The fact is that by deliberate act of this Government shortage of manpower and shortage of goods was created. By deliberate act of this Government the migration program was cut back by some 30,000 or 40,000 people in the first year of Government. By deliberate act this Government sought to create a shortage of employment. The steel industry said: 'Please get us more migrants. We need to produce more steel to provide the cars, the refrigerators and the houses'. But the Government deliberately, by its action, has created a labour shortage which has done so much to inflame the industrial scene and to create shortages. What has happened is that a government of a socialist kind has decided that it knows best what to spend. To this Budget which we are being asked to enhance now by this measure, the Government over the next year or two will add some $300m of public money to build a pipeline which could and should have been built by a private authority which had the knowledge, the enterprise and the money to build it. So the taxpayers of Australia are being sold short- they are being robbed- because a socialist government wants to build a socialist toy. It has got itself into an extreme position on it. It cannot build it itself and it is now asking the very company which it refused permission to build it to go ahead as its agent and do the building. For that exercise the taxpayer will pay some $300m or more in the next few years. At a time of intensive labour shortage and inflation the taxpayers are being asked to transfer from the private sector to the public sector some 10,000 persons. It is useless of the Government to recite figures on the growth of the Public Service in the past. The key factor when you are dealing with a situation in which there is contrived shortage of labour and goods is that you inflame inflation by transferring people from the private sector to the public sector- and that is precisely what is happening today. We are being asked to finance ten or more new departments and some 10,000 or more new public servants.

I rise on this simply to spell that out because we are moving into a situation in which the Government by its own actions has created inflation. It has refused to ease inflation by lowering interests rates, which should now be done; it has refused to bring in a plan to help home buyers, to ease their interest burdens- although in fact it promised in its policy speech to do so; it has declined to reduce the public sector and increase the private sector when we could have had an easing. It has all the powers that are necessary to control and subdue inflation, all the powers which all governments of the past 72 years had and with which they were able to control inflation, and which over 2 decades enabled them to record low inflation rates averaging 2.5 per cent in Australia. This was achieved without extra powers.

This Government is now contriving a new socialist trick- and the public should understand it. The Government is saying: 'We will ask the people by referendum on 8 December to give us powers over prices and incomes- although, in fact, because the trade unions and the left wing will not let us, we will not use the incomes power'. It is pretending that it is seeking the power over prices in the referendum for control of prices. The fact is that this is one further step by the Government to achieve centralised powers, not just over a harmless word or a seemingly harmless word called 'prices', but over virtually the complete private sector of the economy. What the people of Australia should understand is this: That in the pretence of gaining a power to control inflation the socialist government will be gaining the power over the lives of all the people of Australia. Prices undoubtedly include not only prices but rents, fees- whether for lawyers, doctors, dentists or others- the cost of any service and wages; and, I should add, they include, no doubt, the charges the State governments and local government authorities make. They include rates and the price of any commodity or service. This being so, what the Federal Government is doing is seeking to make a massive takeover by way of socialist power over the whole private sector.

That is what we are facing at this moment. We are facing a situation, I repeat, of a government demonstrating doctrinaire socialism. It says to the people of Australia: 'We know best. We are going to increase violently the amount of government money'- although there is no necessity to do so. It could save on the pipeline and on a variety of other things. But is says: 'We are going to do this, and because one offshoot of that is that it will cause inflation, we are going to cut back on the spending power of you, the people of Australia, and we are going to decide what goods you should have and what you shall not have. We are going to contrive a labour shortage by cutting back immigration'- and in fact it has done that- 'and then with inflation running at Christmas time and diminishing people's spending, we are going to plead emotionally to the people for power over prices and we hope, emotionally, that we will get it. And when we get it, we, the socialist government of Australia, will then have power over the whole private sectorand that gives us total control '

I say- and I speak with reasonable brevity on this-that this is symptomatic of the whole journey by the Labor Government towards its doctrinaire socialist policy. In itself the expenditure of an additional $36m is relatively small in such a massive budget. It is, however, symptomatic. It shows the thinking, the paternalism and the autocratic nature of the Government. It shows the type of government which, if it is allowed to continue in this, will lead this country into economic chaos.

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