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Tuesday, 18 September 1973
Page: 1157

Mr HAYDEN (Oxley) (Minister for Social Security) - The performance of the Opposition represents a great backslide from an issue of principle which members of the Opposition were stoutly declaring during the winter recess of Parliament. They were the people who were asserting then quite firmly that Australia needed a prices-incomes freeze and, as a variation of this, a prices-incomes policy. There are 2 different things involved in this and one frequently had the impression that honourable members opposite were not able to make the distinction between them but, nonetheless, these were the things that honourable members opposite were asserting. They were asserting that there was a need for prompt action - not delayed action which would be the necessary result of relying on several States making decisions at different rates, involving lags over an extensive period of time.

To be effective, such a policy needed prompt action and prompt decision making authority being available to the States. I repeat, honourable members opposite have made the running on a prices-incomes policy and a prices-incomes freeze - a very vague concept. For instance, they have never defined what their wage policy and their incomes policy would be. Would it be a productivity based thing? Would it be related to some concept of what an average wages movement should be, drawing on the experience of past years? Would it be based on past performance? What do honourable members opposite really mean? We do not know. They have never given us any clear definition and none of the speeches today has given us any indication.

The 'beautiful' prose of the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) indicated that the prices-incomes freeze was going to be a circuit breaker. But what does he mean by a circuit breaker? What comes after the gap? What do honourable members opposite have in mina, except this rather nebulous proposition that there must be a comprehensive policy or range of programs backing up this action?

Mr Anthony - You believe in permanent controls, do you?

Mr HAYDEN - What are the programs that honourable members opposite propose? The public is entitled to know.

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