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Thursday, 14 May 1987
Page: 3206

Mr MOORE —I refer the Prime Minister to the mini-Budget announcement last night of the $465m increase in postal, Telecom and health care charges and the higher projected inflation rate of 7.25 per cent for 1987-88. Is it a fact that in the period from March 1983 until the end of the next financial year there will have been a real decline in the dependent spouse rebate and family allowances of 35 per cent on people of modest income? If that is so, why has the Government again targeted single income families to carry the additional cost of this mini-Budget? Where is the equity, of which the Prime Minister speaks so much, in that?

Mr HAWKE —I have to say this for this collection of people opposite who are becoming an increasingly sick and irrelevant joke as far as an opposition is concerned-they are tigers for punishment. Let me first pick up that part of the question by the honourable gentleman that purports to deal with the inflationary impact of the decisions taken. This Government approached the overall task it had to meet the challenge facing Australia of producing an outcome which would reduce the deficit by about $4 billion. Inevitably making those decisions means it is the case that people in the Australian community will suffer some loss of standards. That could come either from the lowering of some services, or in a situation where there could be some increase in charges that they have to pay for services. What we have tried to do is get an appropriate mix. All I can say is that the overwhelming reaction of the Australian community, from what we were able to judge last night and today, has been one of approbation of the decisions of this Government.

The honourable gentleman, for reasons which I am sure escape most people in this House, has come back to this question of the impact of government policies upon Australian families. Members of the Opposition have been dealt with on this subject fairly ruthlessly and continually when they have been stupid enough to raise it. I will go back, too, to the question of the impact of Government policies on families. Those opposite may want to find out what will happen to Australian families in this country as a result of decisions by governments, and the people of this country as well as the members of this Parliament are entitled to look at the impact upon families of the decisions that we have taken and of the sorts of proposals that they are putting. Let us, first of all, ask this question: What would be the impact upon Australian families of the wages policies of members of the Opposition? I will tell the House what the impact of their policies in the wages area would be upon families. They would immediately impose upon families a savage reduction in their standards because in every national wage case but two-18 out of the last 20-they have gone in and opposed any increase in wages. That is their policy. If honourable members want to think of one single action which would ensure a reduction in the living standards of Australian families, it is the Opposition's wages policy.

Secondly, what is the Opposition's policy in regard to prices? Its policy in regard to wages and prices combined produced a situation by the time we had come to office where there was an inflation rate of 11 1/2 per cent. Those opposite did not believe in anything remotely resembling some constraint or restraint upon those who fix prices in this country. What we have done, within the limited constitutional framework and powers that we have, is seek the co-operation of the Australian community, which has been very fulsomely forthcoming from the pensioners and the consumer organisations of this country. What is the response of those opposite to that? They want to abuse the pensioners and the consumers, and say: `That is all window dressing. The pensioner organisations of this country are party to a hoax'. That is what those opposite say about the pensioners; that is what they say about the consumer organisations.

I will tell the House that the pensioners and the consumers of this country do not believe that it is a hoax to try to assemble the power of Australian consumers to do what possibly can be done to restrain prices. No; those opposite, with their mouthing of concern for Australian families, would let prices go through the roof. They would cut wages and let prices go up. That is what they would do to Australian families.

What would they do in regard to interest rates? With their $16 billion credibility gap they would have interest rates going through the roof. Who would be hurt by that? Interest rates under this Government have not reached the peak that they did under the previous Government. What would those opposite do in regard to taxes? I will tell the House what they would do in regard to taxes-they would make sure that they gave the revenue back to the paper shufflers. They would abolish the capital gains tax. The paper shufflers make their profit and their income by the massive effort of ringing up the broker and saying `buy' or `sell', so the income and capital gains made out of that are given back to the wealthy, privileged few. Those opposite would give back the fringe benefits to their company directors. The Mercedes and the private education fees would all be given back to the few. Who would be paying for that return of privilege to the rich? I will tell the House who would be paying for it-the ordinary, average Australian family. Those opposite should not get up in this place with their mealy-mouthed hypocrisy about Australian families. It is no wonder that they are increasingly coming to be regarded as a sick apology for an Opposition and a sick, irrelevant apology for an alternative government. They are hopeless.