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Wednesday, 16 February 1977


Mr LYNCH (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) (Treasurer) - During the recess a number of proposals were put forward for improvements in economic policy. I can tell the honourable gentleman that all of them have been rejected in the sense that yesterday in this House I put down a definitive and comprehensive statement of economic policy, clearly indicating the directions which this Government will take during the period ahead. One proposal which I picked up in detail was what I understand to be the Opposition's 'economic policy'. I use that phrase in inverted commas. It was in fact a 2-page, very scrappy, very incomplete and most inadequate document on the economy issued by the honourable member for Adelaide. It purports to be the Opposition's alternative economic package. If one examines that Press release, one is surprised to find that there is no mention whatever of wages policy. Indeed, in that Press release equally there is no mention of external policy. What the policy amounts to is a very substantial expansion in the rate of monetary growth and a massive increase in government spending. In a letter published in yesterday's Canberra Times, in response to an editorial in that paper, in which he sympathised with the criticisms made of his policy the honourable member for Adelaide stated in quite clear and categoric terms- a most extraordinary public statement for a shadow Treasurer in this House:

The danger in Labor's approach is the possibility of intensified pressure of demand leading to further prolonging of inflation.

He might have gone on to say: '. . . and further prolonging therefore of unemployment'. It can be assumed only that Labor's new plan is one drafted under the instructions of the Leader of the Opposition, not those of the honourable member for Adelaide himself. In this connection I am reminded of the assertions of the honourable member for Adelaide in the Press recently that there could be a challenge to the Opposition leadership and in response to a question posed to him, I think in the Australian, he said: 'A week is a long time in politics, leave alone 4 months. I don't know who would be the leader'. In other words, the shadow Treasurer in this House is clearly opting for a situation in which he is not prepared to say that the present Opposition Leader would in fact be returned to that position. I close on this point: Perhaps the best way of summarising a response to the program put down by the Opposition is to quote the words of the British Labour Prime Minister when recently he said:

We used to think that you could just spend your way out of a recession and increase employment by cutting taxes and boosting government spending. I can tell you in all candour that the option no longer exists and insofar as it ever did exist, it worked by injecting inflation into the economy.

That precisely is what the Opposition in this House has proposed.


Mr Hurford - I raise a point of order. I ask that the documents from which the Treasurer was quoting be tabled or, if he is agreeable, be incorporated in full in Hansard.







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