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Wednesday, 24 August 1983
Page: 161

Mr ANTHONY —I direct my question to the Treasurer. How can he claim that the Budget is a responsible Budget when there will be an increase in Government expenditure of about 16 per cent? Is it not a fact that the Budget represents a return to the economics of the Whitlam years?

Government members interjecting-

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order.

Mr ANTHONY —I appreciate that honourable members opposite still remember those disastrous years.

Mr SPEAKER —I invite the right honourable member to proceed with his question.

Mr ANTHONY —Those years represented big government spending, massive Budget deficits, massive taxation and high inflation.

Mr KEATING —This is another question from the high outlay specialist, the master of pork barrelling, the man who has raised pork barrelling to an art form in his years in the narrow, sectional, confined interests of the miserable party he now calls the National Party. Let me make it quite clear that the growth in outlays last year was 18.5 per cent. This year it is 15.8 per cent. So I cannot quite see the point of the honourable gentleman's question. But in the course of this year we have seen the disastrous impact on the economy of the former Government' s policies. We have seen the economy in its deepest recession and an additional quarter of a million people unemployed. Of course, the Government has focused attention on those areas of greatest need but in doing so has taken a number of highly significant measures. We took $1,900m worth of discretionary revenue measures. We saved $1,200m of discretionary outlay measures, totalling $3,100m, and put in place thereof $2,500m of expenditure with a net saving of $650m.

In other words, we have taken the responsible course of combing through the debris of the former Government's outlays and making the room for expenditures which were needed for those who are not able to help themselves-the people who had been forgotten by the coalition parties and who had taken the brunt of the failure of economic policy in recent times. We have given that stimulus to the economy which was needed in the areas of capital works, housing, health and education and in the other areas of priority. If ever there was a time when the public sector should be playing a significant role it is in this year-1983-84. The basis will be to maintain a floor of activity in the economy from which we can see a full recovery being mounted and upon which that fragile confidence which is now present will be built, strengthened and nurtured so that we see a full economic recovery in this country. I come back to the central strategy of the Budget which was to provide that fiscal stimulus, to focus assistance on those who need it and to do so within broad, responsible macroeconomic parameters which again, I suggest and claim, will receive the support of the great body of the Australian people.