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Thursday, 28 February 1985
Page: 332


Senator CHANEY —My question, which is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, follows a question I asked of him earlier this week. I refer to the continuing uncertainty about the Government's attitude to the discounting of consumer price index increases caused by devaluation and to further reports yesterday about conflicting answers given by the Treasurer and the Prime Minister on this issue, which is vital because it touches on our long term prospects for economic recovery. Can the Minister clear up the confusion and tell the Senate whether the Government will, in the next wage case, discount any increase sought to the extent to which the CPI has been increased in the relevant period by the devaluation of the Australian dollar?


Senator BUTTON —In asking the question Senator Chaney said that he referred to Press reports. What he in fact referred to was Press headlines. If he read the Press reports with some detail I think he would see that there is no conflict between answers given by Ministers in various places. In one newspaper a journalist placed an interpretation on an answer given by the Prime Minister, which interpretation was not given widespread currency. I do not regard it as being inconsistent with the answer given by the Treasurer or me.

Of course, the next national wage case is some six months at least down the track. The Government will, at an appropriate time, make up its mind about submissions it has to put on a variety of matters to that national wage case. It is not appropriate for the Government to determine that issue now. It is certainly not appropriate for me to tell Senator Chaney at Question Time what the Government might decide in a few months time.