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Monday, 20 May 1985
Page: 2122

Senator DURACK —My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to the utter confusion which has arisen beause of various statements from the Treasurer, the Minister for Finance, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations over the Government's position on discounting the consumer price index for the effects of the depreciation of the dollar at the September national wage case hearing. Will the Leader of the Government, in his capacity as Minister representing the Prime Minister, clear up the confusion by saying whether the Government will or will not argue for discounting at the September hearing?

Senator BUTTON —One thing is very clear and that is that the Government has said that the effects of a devaluation are most likely to be felt in the March quarter of 1986 and that the Government's position in relation to discounting at the case to be heard before the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is that we will reserve our decision on this matter. The Government feels-this is clear from a number of statements which have been made-that the impact in the September quarter this year will not be significant. Having said that, it is fair to say that the Government is pretty cool about the issue.

Senator Durack —Just confused.

Senator BUTTON —No; cool, I said. We do not feel any need to get particularly agitated about this matter at this time. We will have a better idea of the effects of devaluation by the time the Arbitration Commission meets in September. Although, as I have indicated, the likely results of a devaluation are not expected to be felt significantly in the September quarter, we will examine the position with regard to that hearing at that time. That has been indicated on a number of occasions by all the Ministers to whom Senator Durack referred in his question.