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Thursday, 11 October 1984
Page: 1652


Senator SIBRAA —I ask whether the attention of the Minister representing the Treasurer has been drawn to a report in today's Australian in which a leading British economist, Mr Philip Shrappel of Bis-Shrappel Economic Forecasters, is reported to have said that the re-election of the Hawke Government would result in a wave of euphoria and a spending spree and that the mood in Australia was such that it was almost disloyal, if not illegal, to vote against Mr Hawke? Will the Minister take steps to ensure that the essence of Mr Shrappel's remarks is transmitted to the Australian electorate during the period leading to 1 December ?


Senator WALSH —I am aware of that report. Indeed, I think a good deal of what Senator Sibraa said in his question was in fact a direct quotation from Mr Shrappel. I will certainly take steps to ensure that the electorate is made aware of Mr Shrappel's views as expressed in that article. I expect that the Prime Minister and Mr Keating will also exert themselves to make sure that the electorate is made aware of it. While some people might think the language is a little glowing, it does remain an objective fact that when this Government was elected the Australian economy was in the worst condition it had been in for nearly 50 years. Unemployment and inflation were both above 10 per cent and on a rising trend. Some quarter of a million jobs had been lost in the last year, interest rates were at record levels, and we were facing a prospective deficit of $10 billion for the next financial year.

Since that time-I will go through the major economic indicators-unemployment has fallen from above 10 per cent to below 9 per cent and the trend is downwards , not upwards. By the implicit price deflator, inflation has fallen from above 10 per cent and rising to below 7 per cent and falling. The quarter of a million jobs lost in the last year of the Fraser Government have been more than recovered in the 18 months of this present Government. Interest rates, which had previously been at record levels, have fallen between one per cent and 1.5 per cent since this Government was elected. Clearly, they too are on a downward trend. The $10 billion prospective deficit which we inherited has been reduced this financial year to something below $7 billion. Although Mr Shrappel's language is laudatory, there is undoubtedly a very sound, substantial and objective base for the praise he has heaped upon this Government.