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Thursday, 17 May 1973
Page: 2290

Mr SPEAKER -Order! We are talking about prices, not pipe smoking.

Mr ARMITAGE - 1 agree, Mr Speaker, but the former Minister introduced this subject which has nothing to do with the Bill.

Mr SPEAKER -I did not hear him.

Mr ARMITAGE - This is one example of what will happen in the retail field in respect of a large number of commodities. I have given this as an example because it is one of the first commodities to transfer to the metric system. It should be borne in mind that every shopkeeper who gets away with charging 76c instead of 67c gets a further mark-up of 14 per cent. I give a warning to the general public to watch what they buy from now on where weight or any form of measurement is involved, to ensure that they are not being charged the same price for something expressed in grams as they would have paid for a larger amount expressed in ounces because they are likely to be rooked to high heaven. I have given an ordinary, human and normal type of example, but if this becomes an activity in a large way it could be a good subject for inquiry by either the proposed tribunal or for the parliamentary committee on prices. For these reasons I support the legislation.

I emphasise that this legislation, by itself, cannot cure inflation. It can dampen it down. The Government does not claim that it can cure it. The causes of inflation are world-wide and, I believe, relate originally to the very unwise economic policies of the United States of America and the export of United States dollars - the Euro dollar - and the effects this has had throughout the, world. We must grapple with the problem. Our efforts will be of no use if we do not accept the root causes of inflation but say: 'We can do nothing about it. Let laissez faire have its way. Let things take their course', as the previous Government did. Inflation is a problem with which we must grapple. It must be dampened down, otherwise there will be wide-ranging effects upon the economy and upon the living standards of the Australian people as a whole. This Bui, and the legislation under which a committee was appointed earlier by this Parliament, seek to do something about inflation. Other economic policies which have been introduced - revaluation, restraints on overseas borrowing, the call-up of statutory reserve deposits - and future proposals concerning restrictive trade practices and consumer protection are valid moves by this Government to wipe aside the laissez faire policies of the past and to try to do something effective in dampening down inflation, which is a serious problem for the future of Australia and one which has been inherited, unfortunately, from the past.

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