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Tuesday, 13 March 1973
Page: 460


Mr EDWARDS (BEROWRA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Treasurer. I refer to his answer to a recent question asked by the honourable member for Cowper. I ask: Would the Treasurer confirm that it was inaccurate and misleading of him to attribute $170m of the projected increase in the Budget deficit to changes of mind of the previous Government between 17th August and 2nd. December last? Is it not a fact, as set out in the Treasury Information Bulletin' to which the Treasurer referred, that nearly $150m of this increase is due to revisions of expenditure estimates having nothing to do with new policies or changes of mind by the former Govrnment, and that only $21m is attributable to new initiatives undertaken after the Budget by the former Government?


Mr CREAN (MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA) (Treasurer) - I do not want to answer the same question again, but I repeat-


Mr McLeay - Get it right this time.


Mr CREAN - I will try to get it right and I hope the honourable member will read it right; I sometimes have my doubts about his capacity to do so. The figures showed a projected Budget deficit of $630m. After the Budget was written, certain other commitments that ought to have been foreseeable at the time of the Budget were introduced for reasons best known to the Government. These changes added substantial sums to the figure. In addition there were changes in the wage structure which inevitably added another $40m-odd. The point I made was that if the projected deficit is divided into 6 parts only one-sixth of it is due to the action of the new Government and five-sixths of it is due to the inheritance. I will not quibble about whether the amount is within precisely $10m or $12m or so. r do not have the exact figure before me at the moment. But the figure appears in that document. In my view it is beyond argument. We added to the sum because we inherited this state of unemployment. I do not know whether the impact of our measures has been full yet, but certainly there has been a substantial fall in unemployment figures between January and February.

What 1 find astonishing is that in all this talk about the first 100 days or, if you like, the first quarter of the life of this Government members of the previous Government which had been in power for the best part of 100 quarters- 23 years - seem to want to be consoled only about the figures of the last quarter. Had the honourable gentlemen been accurate in quoting some of these figures relating to an uprise in national production and so on and if they had looked at the absymal graph that accompanied them they would have seen that in the previous 3 quarters under the previous Government the performance had actually gone negative - that there had been a decline in the sum. Surely when you have had a great declension it is time for some sort of rise, and that rise is borne out by the figures for the last quarter. I hope that the additional stimulus that will be given to those who deserve it, namely those in receipt of social service benefits, will be reflected in a greater stimulus in consumer spending in the next quarter. One ought not to be dismal about that prospect; one ought to applaud it.







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