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Tuesday, 19 April 1966

Debate resumed from 31st March (vide page 865), on motion by Mr. McMahon -

That the House lake note of the following paper-

State of the Economy - Ministerial Statement, 31st March 1966.

Mr. PETERS(Scullin) r8.0].- Mr. Speaker, everything in the garden is lovely. Or is it? The Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) in his speech on the economy of this country set out to assess the situation in its internal and external aspects and to indicate the lines of policy the Government is taking. He said that the employment position was satisfactory and that in recent years a rate of growth in activity had been sustained such as would take up the increase in the work force. He said that this had been done without causing inflation or balance of payments difficulties. The women of Australia would not admit that increases in prices of all commodities and rents - in some cases of over 100 per cent. - would not constitute inflation.

Generally, the statement of the Treasurer is designed to give the impression that although Australia is experiencing a drought, the full effects of which have not yet been felt, and although production of all kinds of essentials has been reduced, there is noting to worry about. The views of the Treasurer are not shared by some supporters of the Liberal Party and the spokesmen of big business. As late as 21st March - less than one month ago - Mr. Staniforth Ricketson, who is Chairman of Directors of Capel Court Investment Co. (Aust.) Ltd.. said -

Even when allowance is made for the effect of drought and other factors on rural income and production it is obvious that many of the non rural sectors of the community have experienced a significant downturn in their rale of progress. It is of course impossible to divorce entirely one section of the community from another or to expect that the repercussions of a severe and continuing drought will not be felt throughout the economy.

Mr Turnbull - That is what the Treasurer said.

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