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Wednesday, 23 October 1974
Page: 1866

Senator YOUNG (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Is it not a fact that the Government stated that meat prices were a big factor in the previous quarterly increase in inflation? Is it not also a fact that since then meat prices have fallen considerably during the September quarter? Following the Government's previous comment, would not the present rate of inflation be much higher than the now record 21.6 per cent if meat prices had not fallen to a great extent during the latest quarter? Further, what steps is this Government going to take regarding the frightening rate of inflation at the present time?

Senator MURPHY - I will accept what is put by the honourable senator about what was said about meat prices previously, and presumably if meat prices had been higher the rate of inflation might have been higher, if we use the consumer price index. That index, however artificial it might be, probably has some relationship to what is happening in society. There is no doubt that there have been increases in a large number of commodities. We would hope that the effect of the Trade Practices Act is to pull down the prices of some commodities by increasing competition. Mr Bannerman, who is the Chairman of the Trade Practices Commission and very experienced, said that he expected this to be the effect of the Act very shortly. That is one measure which the Government is using to combat inflation. It has had only a few days of operation.

Of course, the Prices Justification Tribunal is another measure which the Government is using, and there is a whole series of other efforts which the Government is making. The honourable senator is aware that this is world-wide inflation, and it is not easy to contain something which cannot be contained elsewhere. We are affected by the movements in world prices. We are affected in a great number of ways, especially by the increase in the price of oil which affects the prices of various-

Senator Carrick - Come off it.

Senator MURPHY - The honourable senator would realise that the increase in the price of oil to other countries has meant that there is a flow-on into the prices of all sorts of commoditiesthe base chemicals and all sorts of other things that come here. This has resulted from the dramatic increase in the price of oil and also from even more dramatic increases in the prices of some chemicals. This Government will do what it can. It would expect that some of the things which have been done in industry to feather-bed industries and to push up pricesprice fixing agreements and so forth- may be done away with. If at least they could be watered down it would have some helpful effects in combating the results in Australia of the world wide inflation.

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