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Tuesday, 22 October 1974
Page: 1838

Senator SHEIL (QUEENSLAND) - My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. H e will recall that earlier this year the Prime Minister and some other senior Ministers were declaring that the rate of inflation was dropping and that in any case Australia had to learn to live with it. In view of the concern now being expressed about the state of the economy by the same Ministers, I ask: When did the Government first realise that spiralling inflation would lead Australia into economic chaos? Was it before the framing of last month's Budget? If so, why did the Budget not reflect that realisation and a determination to reverse the trend?

Senator MURPHY -I think that everyone should be aware that inflation is world wide. To speak of it as if it is somehow the fault of the present Ministers or of the Budget is absolute nonsense. Inflation is raging all over the world. The reasons for it are, I think, capable of being known and understood, and they ought to be discussed more than they are in this Parliament. The prime causes of inflation are certainly outside Australia. Inflation is raging in countries whether there is employment or unemployment in those countries and whether the countries are developed or developing countries. In Australia we are trying to do the best we can to cope with the inflation and to maintain the high standard of living of the Australian people. The Budget was directed to that end. Whatever steps have to be taken to cope with the problems of the inflation that is hitting us, the same as it is hitting people elsewhere, will be undertaken by the Government.

There is no doubt about the Government's intentions and desire to cope with inflation. Honourable senators opposite expect some magic kind of formula to be advanced to overcome a problem which is unable to be dealt with by the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, other developed countries, or the developing countries. It is quite absurd to start to talk as if in some way it is the fault of the Ministers of the Australian Government that they have not automatically solved this problem which has proved insoluble elsewhere.

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