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Tuesday, 14 March 1961

Mr REYNOLDS (Barton) . - We have just listened to the honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes) telling us that everything in Australia is in a glorious condition. According to him there is nothing wrong with Australia, but if there happens to be anything wrong it is all attributable to those wretched Communist trade union leaders who lead the great bulk of trade unionists around by the nose. If it is not the Communists and their trade union friends who are responsible for what is wrong then it is the capitalist press with its tremendous prejudice and bias against the Government. And if it is not the press it is the Australian Broadcasting Commission. He went the full distance, and said if it was not the Australian Broadcasting Commission it was the representatives of the manufacturers who were warning this Government that it was on the verge of bankruptcy if it continued with its present policies. In other words, everybody in the community is wrong, bar the Government.

That is a happy state of affairs, and I am quite prepared to live with it, particularly if there is an election in the offing.

The honorable member for Mcpherson, after criticizing everybody, walked out of the House a moment ago. In his speech he went on to say that if the Government had not applied its present economic policy there would have been disastrous unemployment. But he did not go on to remind us that the reason that there would have been disastrous unemployment is the gross misjudgment and mismanagement of this country's economy twelve months ago when the Government opened our doors to a flood of imports. It allowed imports to flood into a country that could not afford to import to such an unbridled extent. The honorable member talked about graziers over-stocking but he did not refer to the Government's allowing this country to buy goods overseas which it cannot afford to buy.

The Government poses before the Australian people as the rescuer of Australia, but it forgets to tell the people that the things from which it is rescuing them are the disastrous results of the Government's own policy.

The honorable member for Mcpherson went on about the reduction of prices caused by the importation of goods and the freeing of import controls. Typically, he did not cite one example of reduced prices: In fact, the various cost of living tables show no reduction in the cost of living. In the honorable gentleman's own State, Queensland, and in some other States also, there have been continued increases in the cost of living. I defy any honorable member to point out any sizable reduction of price for any worth-while commodity to-day which has resulted from the freeing of imports. Probably the only appreciable result of the freeing of imports is that there are more goods available, with goods being imported perhaps at reduced prices - but the reductions are not being passed on to the public. There is no evidence of the tremendous competition that was supposed to produce efficiency after imports were freed.

The honorable member went on to talk about the terrible scourge of strikes and their effect on the economy. It is only a week ago that somebody else was giving this Government the credit for an unprecedented period of peace in industry.

Mr Haylen - They are a lot of liars.

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