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Thursday, 17 August 1972
Page: 154

Senator CARRICK (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that Labor spokesmen during the Budget debate one year ago were loud in their prediction that the level of unemployment in Australia would rise by now to at least 200,000? Were not these professional jeremiahs proven 100 per cent wrong in their attempts to create serious recession by destroying business confidence? Has the Minister's attention been drawn to an attempted repeat performance of these destructive tactics despite the unanimously expressed viewpoint of all accepted commentators that the current Budget measures are effectively designed to stimulate the economy and substantially increase job opportunities?

Senator WRIGHT - I well remember the exaggerated predictions that unemployment numbers would rise to 200,000 in Australia. As the honourable senator has pointed out, even the highest figure of unemployment that we have had to date is only half this figure. In regard to the effect that such statements have on confidence in the business community, I draw attention to several comments by businessmen which are reported in the Press this morning. They speak of the disruption in industrial relations and the chaos in employment that are produced by a determined effort to undermine the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and to make inordinate demands for conditions outside the Commission. These things-

Senator Murphy - I rise to order. The Minister is using a question to engage in argument and debate not appropriate to question time. This is not the purpose of question time. The purpose of question time is to ask questions and receive answers. Certainly, an amount of elasticity has been granted. But this answer is going well beyond this. The Minister is making the kind of statement which would be made in a debate. Apart from anything else, it is not fair that in reply to a question asked by a senator on his side of the chamber the Minister should engage in this kind of dialogue and argument in which the Opposition has no opportunity to participate.

The PRESIDENT - I am glad that I am recruiting allies in relation to this problem of the use of question time. Senator Murphy is my most recent recruit. I hope that the strictures imposed by standing order 99 will be borne in mind by honourable senators both on my left and on my right. I think that the Minister had nearly completed his reply to the question asked by Senator Carrick. Unless he wishes to proceed further, I will pass on to the next question. If he has anything further to say, I ask him to bear in mind standing order 99. I would be grateful if he would do that.

Senator WRIGHT - If I may be so forbearing, I just draw attention to a remark that I made elsewhere yesterday as to the futility of peering into my mind. I was just about to lead into the gravamen of my reply based upon facts. I remind the Senate that that part of the question still unanswered concerns the effect that the current propaganda on the part of Labor spokesmen is having on undermining the confidence that the Budget is designed to build up. I was about to say that, under the cover of this industrial disruption, Mr Hawke, the leader of the trade union movement, has been saying that last year's Budget was designed to create a position of unemployment. I give the direct lie to that statement. The remark only yesterday by Mr Clyde Cameron predicting that unemployment would rise to a figure of 200,000 is a direct assault upon the effort to build up confidence in the business community. What I am here to affirm is that the Labor spokesmen who are making these drivelling predictions today will be completely answered by the events, as they have been over the last 12 months.

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