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Friday, 3 December 1976
Page: 3225

Mr YOUNG (PORT ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I direct my question to the Treasurer. It supplements the earlier question asked by the honourable member for Moore. By what amount will the cost of imports increase without tariff reductions? What effect will that cost increase have upon the cost of living in Australia? Is it the intention of the Government to prevent wage earners from receiving wage increases to offset these cost increases? Finally, to offset this economic madness, would not the

Treasurer agree that the simplest solution would be to reduce tariffs?

Mr LYNCH -There is a need to ensure that confidence returns to manufacturing industry as a consequence of the devaluation and that this is not negated by other moves made by the Government. That includes the particular field to which the honourable member referred. All I would want to say about the subject in response to the general query which he raised is that, as I think I indicated recently, the Government is looking at this area. I think my colleague the Minister for Industry and Commerce made the same point this morning. We are looking at the tariff on imported goods and equipment, particularly where such goods and equipment are not produced in Australia.

The honourable gentleman raised a question about the impact on the cost of living. I assume he is referring to the consumer price index. I have to say to the honourable gentleman that the effects are not quantifiable in a sufficiently precise form for it to be responsible of me to indicate a figure in the House at this stage. The final part of the question referred to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The Government has foreshadowed that because of the impact of devaluation on the Australian community there is a need for a much stronger line by the Government before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to seek necessary restraint in wage and salary movements so that the inflationary consequences of the wage front which we have experienced in recent years can be subject to very sharp action, one would hope, by the Government in making its submissions before the Commission.

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