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Wednesday, 9 March 1977
Page: 27

Mr GROOM (Braddon) -I move:

That the Address be agreed to.

At the outset I sincerely thank honourable members for according me the honour of presenting the Address-in-Reply to the Speech of Her Majesty the Queen in opening the second session of the Thirtieth Parliament of the Commonwealth. I feel it is an honour which is shared by my constituents- I stand here representing them- and I believe by the Tasmanian people. It is indeed wonderful that the Queen should see fit to find time to visit Australia in this the Silver Jubilee of her accession to the Throne. I feel that as the Queen travels around the country she will soon realise that the vast majority of Australians hold an abundance of affection for her and what she stands for. I know that she will get a sincere welcome wherever she goes in Australia. Last night at the official reception Her Majesty mentioned that she would be visiting every State in the Commonwealth as well as the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. As I have said, I am sure she will receive a very sincere and warm welcome when she visits other parts of Australia.

Despite what the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) said earlier I would like to congratulate the Government for the very appropriate reception given to Her Majesty in the form of the parade yesterday and the official reception last night and also for giving the people of Canberra the opportunity to see Her Majesty and His Royal Highness. I think the functions were most appropriate and for me- I take it honourable members on both sides of the House would agree with this- it was a unique experience to be present at them. I think that goodwill was shown by honourable members from both sides of this House and by honourable senators from both sides of the other chamber.

Her Majesty's Speech was short and my speech will also be short. The Speech outlined in brief form the Government's legislative intentions for the remainder of the current Parliament. It confirmed the Government's firm commitment to restore economic prosperity to this country and to give social justice to all our people. In particular Her Majesty mentioned- I feel I should also mention it- the Government's concern for the Aboriginal people, the original people of Australia. There was emphasis in the Speech on the economy and that would not surprise any of us because we in this place and those who are involved outside in the decision making process seem to spend most of our time dealing with economic matters. In the Speech Her Majesty said:

Australia has experienced economic difficulties in recent years; my Government has given first priority to restoring the economy and will use all the resources at its disposal to achieve this goal.

The Government of course must seek economic justice for all Australians, and this is our essential aim at this time. But when one goes around the electorate, around the traps as we call it, and speaks to the ordinary people in the street one finds so many people wondering whether this concern with the economy might be misplaced. There are people saying that they have never had it so good. When they say 'they' they are usually referring to someone else, not to themselves. When one looks for visible signs of a recession in the economy they are not easy to find. That is the way I see it anyway, and others might agree with me. If one looks at the evidence on paper produced by all the outstanding economists that we have around the place and all the economic indicators, the indices of one kind or another, one certainly would be satisfied that we are in a bad way economically and that we are suffering from an economic recession, but it is difficult to find the tangible evidence, the real evidence of this recession. This is a serious point I am making.

One must acknowledge that many people in the community have suffered very dramatically indeed in recent times, especially- I hope that this does not sound political- between 1972 and 1975 when inflation was so rife and when prices got out of control. During that period the poor in the community who are not able to protect themselves against inflation, particularly the elderly people on fixed incomes, suffered so dramatically and the farmers of Australia suffered their worst plight for many, many years. As well as the problem of rising prices the farmers had the problem of falling incomes and the two together made things extremely harsh and difficult for them. If one goes around the pubs, into the bars, there seem to be just as many people there. One sees the number of people at the racetracks. The TAB turnover is as high as it has ever been. Records seem to be set year after year in every State. It is the same with the soccer pools, Tattslotto and all these other things on which we spend our money. Attendances at sporting functions and fixtures are also high. There are some exceptions, but this is generally true.

There is evidence in the form of economicindicators to suggest that the recession is not perhaps as bad as many would make out. For example, in 1 97 1 an average family comprising a man, his wife and 2 children received a real income of $68.30 a week. Based on the same dollar, that is the 1966-67 dollar, average weekly earnings for that family in 1976 were $78.20. I am talking about real terms; real money. There was this increase. If one looks at the ANZ Quarterly Survey put out in January 1 977 by the Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd one sees further evidence of the increase in real earnings in recent times. The document on page 5, under the heading 'Business Indicators', reads:

In August, -

That is, August 1976- adult male minimum weekly rates payable for a full week's work (excluding overtime) were 16.4 per cent higher than a year earlier.

Concurrently the consumer price index increased by 13.9 per cent, indicating that 'real' wage levels were maintained to employees on minimum weekly rates . . .

Those sorts of figures have to be interpreted in context and properly analysed. I think that they are significant. Those figures which indicate a gradual increase in real earnings, are supported by evidence of purchases and consumption by the people of Australia. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a number of tables which indicate a gradual incline, not decline, in consumption in many key areas including beer, tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, gambling taxes- which are open to some doubt because of the rates of taxpurchases of television sets, both blackandwhite and colour, electric stoves and motor vehicles. When we are talking about durable items such as motor vehicles and television sets we have to realise that the per capita increase is quite remarkable because these are purchases of new television sets and new motor cars. There is normally something that is being replaced and that item, whether it be a television set or a motor car, remains in the community.

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