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Wednesday, 30 November 1983
Page: 3054

Mr PEACOCK —Does the Treasurer agree with the suppressed Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet updates of the favoured National Economic Summit Conference scenarios that the underlying rate of inflation as measured by the non-farm gross domestic product implicit price deflator for 1984-85 and 1985-86 will be significantly higher in all cases than in Summit scenario A? Does this difference in 1985-86 between scenario A's 6.9 per cent, projection one's 8.5 per cent and projection two's 12.6 per cent represent the inevitable consequences of the Government's wages policy which is squandering the benefits now being received from the previous Government's wages pause? As these projections show the disastrous employment consequences of changing, in the Treasurer's own words, 'such a key economic parameter as inflation', does the Treasurer agree with these worsening inflation assumptions which provide the basic cause for the gloomy employment outlook in the projections?

Mr KEATING —The Leader of the Opposition asserts yet again the suppression by the Government of projection one.

Mr Howard —They were suppressed.

Mr KEATING —The projections were not suppressed by the Government.

Mr Howard —You lied about it.

Mr KEATING —The minutes quoted yesterday revealed the honourable member to be the liar, so let us make that clear. Let me just make the point that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the previous question asked by him said that I had also suppressed the non-farm GDP deflator figure. I have with me a copy of my own Press statement of 30 August 1983, an extract from an address by me to the Institute of Directors just a couple of days after the Budget. It says:

For example, the forecast year-on-year increase in the non-farm GDP deflator for 1983-84 is around 8 per cent.

So I suggest that honourable members opposite read that document. We have had two charges of suppression. The first charge is that we suppressed the projection, which is untrue. The second charge is that we have suppressed the non-farm GDP deflator figure, which is again demonstrably untrue. The question asked by the Leader of the Opposition is the kind of question that would more appropriately be put on notice but let me just make this point: Projection one is, in its general effects, worse than projection A or scenario A presented to the Summit for the very simple reason, as I indicated yesterday, that scenario A was based on the December 1982 national accounts when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was in charge and projection one was based on the June 1983 accounts. The economy deteriorated in the course of 1982-83 as a result of the policies of the former Government and projection one showed up that deterioration. All of those projections-projections A, B and C at the Summit and the projections since , including the wage breakout projection of projection 2 and projection 3 which has been offered to the Economic Planning Advisory Council-reveal, as they did at the Summit, that with higher wage effects there will be a diminution of growth, higher inflation and of course, a longer return in wiping out unemployment. They all reveal that, but I will take the implications of the honourable gentleman's question on board and furnish him with a reply.