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Tuesday, 20 September 1994
Page: 976

Senator CAMPBELL (3.15 p.m.) —I move:

  That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Family Services (Senator Crowley), to a question without notice asked by Senator Zakharov this day, relating to indexation of pensions.

The reason I take note of the answer is that it is important, as Senator Crowley pointed out, to reaffirm that pensions are indexed. She said that it was important to reaffirm it today because the indexation flowed through today. I say that it is important that she made that reaffirmation because of the now obvious impact of the Keating Labor government's financial and economic mismanagement of this nation, which sees the massive pressure on interest rates in Australia now re-emerging.

  We have already seen interest rates increasing in the last couple of weeks. We see today speculation in the press that interest rates will yet again rise before Christmas. It is important that all Australians, but particularly pensioners, understand that it is the massive, runaway Commonwealth own purpose spending that is placing this pressure on interest rates. What this simply means is that the spending power, particularly of low income earners and pensioners, will be diminished. These interest rate pressures hurt most of all those who can least afford it.

  The simple message that I give to the Australian people, particularly to pensioners, is that these interest rate pressures are the result of interest rates going up simply because the Australian government is not prepared to cut its own spending. The Australian government should have a mini-budget. The Australian government, the Keating Labor government, should ensure that its runaway Commonwealth own purpose spending is cut so that it does not cut the spending of citizens, particularly pensioners, by increasing interest rates. That is the core message for the Australian people: this government is cutting your spending because it will not cut its own spending.

  It is very important that Senator Crowley had to raise this today because pensioners are reading the newspapers. They understand that, because of the government's massive deficits, because of its runaway spending, because of its spendthrift nature, because it is not prepared to run a sensible fiscal policy, the interest rates that all Australians have to pay are going up. So of course it is timely that Senator Crowley should seek to reassure pensioners that their pensions will be indexed.

  The boom-bust cycle is at it again. Interest rates are going up and the pressures on inflation to go up will make it go up as well. Pensioners and low income earners are the people who will get hit hardest again because—and I conclude by saying this—this government cannot be trusted with taxpayers' money and because it is a bad financial and economic manager which should be kicked out of power so that Australia can return to sensible financial and economic management once again.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.