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Thursday, 16 May 1985
Page: 2074

Senator LEWIS —My question, which is also directed to the Minister for Finance, relates to the statement by the Minister and the Treasurer about the deferral of the productivity claim until the scope of the depreciation and the extent of its effect on the economy become apparent. I refer the Minister to the words of Mr Simon Crean who on an AM program on Wednesday-that is, the morning after the speech-said, and I quote the words from the transcript:

. . . to the extent to which the productivity benefit is taken in the form of superannuation and that's another important factor that we're saying we're not seeking a wage increase if you like through the productivity case. We're seeking the benefit to be taken in another form but that form can also be if you like phased in over a period depending upon the nature of the industry.

Is it acceptable to the Government that the wage indexation case proceed as normal, as has been indicated, and at the same time in some industries the productivity case proceed on the basis that the benefit there would be in a form other than wages?

Senator WALSH —Senator Lewis seems to think that he has stumbled over a nugget. The comments that Mr Crean made in the context I think I can remember him making many, many times before-that in the productivity claim there would be either higher incomes or some employer contribution to a superannuation fund; either a higher contribution to an existing fund or some contribution where no funds now exist. There is nothing new about that. That is the Australian Council of Trade Unions position.

I have stated the Government's position quite clearly. I will go through it briefly once again in the hope that this time it penetrates. The Government's position has been stated by all of the responsible Ministers, including those who have more responsibility for this matter than I do, of course-that because it is not likely to be significant in the September national wage case, the Government will not argue for discounting of the devaluation induced consumer price index effects in the March and June quarters but the Government will argue for deferral of the productivity claim.