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Wednesday, 15 May 1985
Page: 1979


Senator AULICH —Is the Minister for Finance aware of statements from Australian business leaders in support of last night's economic statement? Can he say whether the statement is likely to increase business confidence in the Australian economy?


Senator WALSH —That is undoubtedly the case. I am aware of such statements. Fortuitously, I happen to have with me the transcript of the interview with Mr White on the National program last night. Mr White said:

I think there will be widespread support. It will be very difficult for any single area of the community to criticise the Treasurer's policies or the Treasurer's announcement tonight because no areas of activity have been exempted from the Government's attempt . . .

In response to the next question, Mr White said:

I think this will restore a lot of confidence in the investment community.

I assume that Mr White, in making that statement, was aware of the facts to a degree that the shadow Treasurer clearly was not. It has just been drawn to my attention by Senator Button that the Leader of the Opposition followed his Deputy down the paths of ignorance even this morning when he repeated on the AM program the fallacy that any money increase in payments to the States would be an add-on to the expenditure which had been allowed for in the Forward Estimates published last week. That, of course, was completely wrong. Mr White, although an important businessman, does not have any particular responsibility for the proceedings in the Parliament, but he was probably much better informed than was the Deputy Leader of the Opposition last night about a matter for which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has central responsibility. The ignorance which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition showed last night persisted this morning as far as the Leader of the Opposition was concerned.

There can be no doubt that if there were any remaining doubts in the business community that this Government, unlike its predecessor, is a government which exercises fiscal discipline, those doubts have been removed by last night's statement that the targets which we set and announced some time ago have been met or achieved. As a result of that it is reasonable to expect-indeed, one can almost guarantee it-that because of the increased confidence in the business community there will be significant increases in private investment and therefore in production, incomes and ultimately government revenues. It is growth of that sort which is essential to achieving the private ambitions of Australian citizens and ultimately, perhaps, delivering a better quality of government services on behalf of those citizens back to the public.