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Wednesday, 27 February 1985
Page: 242

Senator WALTERS —My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and follows his answer to a question by Senator Aulich regarding his selective use of figures on business investment. Is it a fact that, as reported, last week the Prime Minister embarked on a ring-around of leading exporters, pleading with them to repatriate funds to prop up the feeble Australian dollar? Did he consider that one man's plea, even from one so high as the Prime Minister, could influence international market forces, or was this just another example of what has become painfully familiar to most Australians; that is Mr Hawke's being naive and panicking and stumbling in the face of a national problem? Does not the plight of the dollar and Mr Hawke's pathetic attempts to rectify it make a farce of his acceptance of an invitation to tell Canada how it should be done?

The PRESIDENT —Order! Once again, I remind honourable senators to keep their questions as brief as possible. I ask Ministers to do likewise in respect of their answers. I call the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Senator BUTTON —I do not know whether the Prime Minister engaged in a ring-around of exporters, as Senator Walters suggested. I will find out. I would not regard it as normal if he did. It is probably much better than the previous Prime Minister's habit of ringing newspaper proprietors in the middle of the night. I would think it is a far more productive activity. I will find out and obtain an answer to the question. Insofar as Senator Walters's question was predicated on a reference to my selective use of figures, there is nothing selective about the economic recovery which has taken place under this Government. It is continuing, and the investment figures are a growing and strengthening sign of confidence in that recovery. There is nothing selective about that at all.

As to Senator Chaney's interjection in relation to the June 1983 figures, to which Senator Walters perhaps was referring, insofar as there was a flutter up in investments in June 1983, I expect that reflects only a sigh of relief by the investment community that we had finally got rid of the Fraser Government.