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Treasurer's selective quoting shows he is desperate

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John Hewson Leader of the Opposition M e d i a R e l e a s e

35/91 13 February 1991


Today's CPI release meant the Treasurer needed to create a diversion.

The diversion came in two forms.

First, to selectively quote my Press Release 37/90 of 15 February 1990 to imply that I had forecast inflation at double digits by the end of 1990. But to do this he had to be dishonest enough to read only the second part of my comment.

The full sentence read:

"If the ACTU gets its way and, on the basis of past

experience this looks highly probable, Australia will be looking down the barrel of double digit inflation".

Duplicitous indeed!

The second approach is real desperation. He claims that I was duplicitous in my comments on interest rates in the period prior to the election last year.

Again let's look at the full context of my Press Release 36/90 of 15 February 1990, not just the few lines which Mr Keating chose to quote in the House. We said openly:

"It is entirely possible that the economy is about to

collapse about our ears as a result of Mr Keating's

prolonged period of high interest rates.

But Australians are being left in the dark.

If the Reserve Bank has inside information not available to the general public then they should release it now.

Is the bank being told that more corporate failures or personal or small business bankruptcies are on the way?"

So what on earth is Mr Keating trying to say?

That he eased in early 1990 because he knew there was a recession in the offing?

If so, why did he say in March that "we won't let there be a



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The Treasurer wilfully seeks to misrepresent our position.

In the election campaign we never denied that interest rates should come down if the economy was slowing but that they would not come down sustainably unless policy was re-balanced. We still hold that view.

But what we asked for prior to the election was evidence that the economy was slowing to validate the interest rate fall. After all, the Treasurer was then assuring everyone there would be no recession.

Mr Keating cannot have it both ways. If he had information

supporting the view that a recession was underway he should have released it prior to the election. But if he had such

information, said what he said, and did not release it, then he really does have a problem.

Someday we may find out just how duplicitous he was.