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Thursday, 14 November 1974
Page: 2368


Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and I refer to the Prime Minister's nation-wide appeal to the community to accept the latest tax cuts as a substitute for new wage rises. Did the Prime Minister attempt to reach a no wage demand agreement with the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Hawke, before the tax cuts were announced? If so, what was the outcome? If the appeal for wage restraint fails who will be to blame for further deterioration of the economy, the unions or the Government?


Senator MURPHY - There were discussions between the Prime Minister and the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, and the Leader of the Country Party in the Senate is well aware of them. I am not able to say, and even if I were I do not know whether I would, what were the precise agreements or understandings reached. The honourable senator wants to know who will be responsible, the Government or the trade unions, if there is some deterioration in the economic position. That illustrates his outlook, and that of his Party; if something goes wrong it is the fault of either the Government or the trade unions. I remind the Leader of the Country Party in the Senate that the Government took some very strong action last year in cutting the tariffs and the result was not what the Government hoped it would be. Despite the fact that the Country Party was a great advocate of cutting tariffs, it did not complain when the result that was expected did not flow. One of the tragedies was that when the tariffs were cut there was a great inflow of imported goods which ought to have been made available cheaply to the Australian public. We know that in many cases the benefits of the tariff cuts were not passed on to the community, thereby contributing to and enhancing inflation. The Leader of the Country Party in the Senate has not condemned those in the community who profited unfairly from the tariff cuts. He has not turned to others who have made excessive profits. All he wants to do is to blame either the Government or the trade unions. That is the reason he is sitting where he is sitting now.







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