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Transcript of Peter Reith MP, Acting Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Treasurer, World Today



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Deputy Leader of the Opposition

E&OE

TRANSCRIPT OF PETER REITH HP, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION asĀ® s h a d o w m m m s m m , w o r l d t o d a y , We d n e s d a y , 9 Ja n u a r y 1991

J Peter Reith, we know that imports have fallen, at least over the last year. This figure in raw terms is $1.35 billion, down from $1.6 billion the month before. Is that not evidence that the Government's high interest rate policy has at least had some

success?

PR Well very little evidence. The truth is that, seasonally adjusted, imports are up by 6%. Exports are only up by 2%. And I think these figures just reveal that Australia is still addicted to imports. And of course in terms of interest rates - the

implications for that are that it's hard to see interest rates coming down.

J Well if Australia is addicted to imports, what could the Opposition, or the Government, do to change that?

PR Well the first thing we can do as an Opposition is to offer our bipartisan support for the policies that will make a difference. And we do that, and I do that again now. We are calling on the Government to bring

down a mini budget as soon as they can possibly get it together. A real expenditure restraint on behalf of the federal Government could pave the way to reductions in real interest rates. And of course

industrial relations reforms and the other micro reform agenda that we've been proposing. In fact if you take waterfront, for example, even the Prime Minister has admitted that progress there's been too

slow. There's a lot that needs to be done.

J When you talk about real reductions in interest rates, do you believe there's a case for another Government induced cut in interest rates in the first half of this year?

PR Well as the figures come in today on this balance of payments, it's hard to see that. And I would agree with the remarks of caution from your previous speaker.

J Peter Reith, thank you very much.

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