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Wednesday, 26 September 1973
Page: 1522

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The question before the House relates to the allotment of time.

Mr HAYDEN - I am meeting the comments of the Leader of the Opposition with similar quality in that case. Imagine a situation in which we have to depend on 6 States to control the economy of this country at a time when rapid and regular adjustment - fine tuning - is required in the economic management of the country.

Let us get more precisely to the area around which the Leader of the Opposition built his argument. As he was waffling in a grand but rather imprecise style he has developed over the years he was saying: 'What sort of a pricesincomes policy is this? Will it cover this or will it cover that? Will there be penalties? Where will the arbitration system be?' Let us put to one side that this man has been moving about the country with a slogan 'prices-incomes freeze', never specifying what he proposed to do after that-

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The question before the Chair is that the time allotted in connection with the Bill be as set out by the Leader of the House. I would ask the Minister to confine his remarks to the reasons for that allotment of time.

Mr HAYDEN - I am sorry. I was induced into thinking that this is the trend of the debate by the comments of the Leader of the Opposition. Might I make this final point in this area: We are seeking constitutional power over an area which is essential if we are to handle the economy effectively. If we are to apply particular policies we do not write them specifically into the Constitution with a whole range of prohibitions and a whole range of penalties. This comes subsequently in the light of experience at any time when back up legislation is provided. Then the Leader of the Opposition, as he will be then and for some considerable time, unless those people behind him have their say, will be able to express his opinion as to the appropriateness of the penalties. But he is the man who has been asserting: 'Try a prices-incomes policy'. He is the man who has made the running on this even in this House up until a week ago. He is the man whose bluff is being called now. He is completely deflated. He lacks credibility, as do members behind him, because now they are being given the opportunity to stand up and back up their brave words that they put forward in the recess period.

The simple fact is that we have to put the proposal in this piece of legislation through the Parliament this week. We have to put it through the House of Representatives today because of the requirements, constitutionally and legislatively, if we are to have a referendum before Christmas - and we intend to. Then the Leader of the Opposition and the silent men behind him can be measured by the public. The public then will be given the opportunity of seeing how much sincerity and how much credibility there was in the words that they have been propagating as the essential remedy to the economic problems of this country. Of course what they have suggested is not the essential remedy. It is a very small part of the overall tools which should be available to a central Government in administering the economy of a country. But the mess today, whether it is in tariffs, whether it is in exchange rates, whether it is in the way resources are distributed, whether it is in the collapse of primary industry in various sectors or whether it is in the existence of poverty over a wide range of the economy, represents the heritage of 23 years of Liberal-Country Party administration. It is a manful struggle to try to repair the almost irreparable damage for which members of the previous Government have been responsible. The problems today we have inherited from the incompetence of past Liberal-Country Party administrations. Today we are taking positive action and this is the opportunity for members opposite to stand up and back their words with credible action.

Question put -

That the motion (Mr Daly's) be agreed to.

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