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Wednesday, 21 September 1983
Page: 1072

Mr HOWARD —Does the Prime Minister agree that in present economic circumstances maximum certainty in the minds of those in the business community about government decisions is paramount? In view of the confusion that must now exist in the minds of those concerned in the uranium industry and the uncertainty of employment consequences in relation to Roxby Downs arising from the answer given by the honourable gentleman, can he give the Parliament and the nation a clear timetable within which the Government will resolve its conflict and its chaos over uranium policy?

Mr HAWKE —I am indebted to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for his question. He is correct in saying that the major requirement of the business community is the maximum possible degree of certainty. It is precisely because that is the desire of the business community that this Government has the overwhelming support of the business community in this country. The absolute lack of direction, the vacillation and the conflicting emphases that characterised what passed for an economic policy under the previous Government have been replaced by a coherent policy on the part of this Government which was reflected in the statement of 9 May. Indeed, that coherent policy started with the action of this Government in making the 10 per cent decision in regard to the exchange rate which was necessary because--

Mr Peacock —Get back to uranium.

Mr HAWKE —I will get to uranium. The honourable member referred to maximum certainty. The decision in regard to the exchange rate, the fiscal decisions and the wages policy decisions taken by this Government have created a degree of certainty unmatched in the history of this country since the end of the last war . This has been reflected in the confidence of the business community and the financial sectors. I noticed the glee with which the Leader of the Opposition a week ago was waving around a certain issue of the Bulletin. I have not seen him waving the Bulletin around today. That is because he finds no comfort in all the indications that are available about the attitude of the business community to this Government.

I come specifically to that aspect of the Deputy Leader's question which dealt with uranium.

Opposition members-Ah!

Mr HAWKE —Honourable members opposite are slow learners; so I have to go slowly with them. In regard to uranium, I have been speaking with the Premier of South Australia as recently as this morning. The activities at Roxby Downs are going ahead. There is no change in the economic activities in regard to Roxby. There is no uncertainty. There has been no change of plans on the part of the companies. They are proceeding. There is no change of plans on their part. No person has been displaced. Everything is going ahead as usual. At present no decision by this Government in regard to existing operations is required. They are going ahead without change. No person has lost a job. There has been no change of investment decisions. In the last part of the question the Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked for a timetable. The timetable will be roughly this: A paper will be prepared which will be considered by the Government party in the next few weeks. I believe that a decision will be taken by the Government in regard to this area before the end of October.