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Thursday, 17 February 1977

Mr LYNCH - A very quick response to the honourable gentleman would be that in matters of this type, as he should be very much aware, it ought not to be within the province of this Parliament to seek to canvass matters of detail which the Government will be putting in the national wage case. I made that perfectly clear in the statement which I brought down in the House on Tuesday of this week and I do not seek to go beyond it. I might say to the honourable gentleman generally on wages that this Government is confident that the overwhelming majority of Australians now understand the need for wage and salary restraint because of the incidence of inflation and because of the problems of job opportunities, that is to say, the absence of job opportunities created by the honourable gentleman. On this subject, I can do no better than quote what the honourable gentleman said to the Young Labor Association conference in January 1975. He said then that inflation was 'undoubtedly and almost solely due to wage claims and increases'. He will recall this as well as I do from the piece of paper which I have here. I quote the honourable gentleman back to him:

You cannot blame Vietnam for the inflation in the world. You cannot blame the oil crisis for the inflation in Australia. You cannot blame the takeovers and the currency rates for inflation in Australia now. You have to place the blame on wage claims.

The Leader of the Opposition went even further and outlined why excessive wage increases lead not only to inflation but also to unemployment. Again I quote from what he said:

Every excessive increase in income for one man takes the job of another.

I can well understand, therefore, why, curiously and somewhat incomprehensibly, the honourable member for Adelaide, who is the Opposition's spokesman on economic matters, made no reference whatever to wages in that somewhat incomplete- I underline 'incomplete'economic statement published in a 2-page document some few days ago.

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