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Tuesday, 22 October 1974
Page: 1830


Senator WITHERS -My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. As the Government has spent the past 12 months searching for a scapegoat for Australia's soaring inflation rate- including the Senate, the Opposition, the States, prices, employers, trade unions, business, even claiming it was imported and now is blaming excessive wage claims without managing to stem, let alone reduce, the inflation rate- when will the Government formally acknowledge the AttorneyGeneral's own belief as reported at page 640 of Hansard of 18 September 1973 and 'acknowledge the basic duty and responsibility of the national Government for economic management'?


Senator MURPHY -The Government has always recognised the basic responsibility and duty of the Federal Government for economic management. Regrettably in this country the Federal Government is not armed with the powers to manage the economy. Honourable senators may recall that at the Constitutional Convention one of the broad propositions put forward by the Australian Government was that the Constitution should be altered so that the Federal Parliament would be able to arm the Government with the broad powers of economic management which are held by governments of other countries. It is quite absurd that the Government does not have clear powers to manage the economy and that honourable senators opposite should take up their present stand when they will recall that they bitterly opposed the constitutional referendum to enable this Parliament to have powers over incomes and prices. This is basic to the management of the economy, yet they took the stand that not even the Federal Parliament was to be entrusted with those constitutional powers.

It is quite clear that over a whole range of initiatives the Opposition has endeavoured to obstruct and delay the Government's proposals. The Trade Practices Act came into operation only a few days ago, but it should have been in operation for the better part of 12 months. It would have been in operation if it had not been for obstruction by Opposition members of this Senate. That is one measure which everyone agrees is vital to dealing with price fixing and the rackets which have been rife in industry. The Opposition has nothing to congratulate itself on in its repeated obstruction of the Government's endeavours, even with its limited constitutional powers, to act on behalf of the people.







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