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Wednesday, 20 November 1974
Page: 2558


Senator LAWRIE (QUEENSLAND) - In view of the Prime Minister's declaration in May that inflation was on the downturn and would drop to 8 per cent by the end of the year, I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Does the present inflation rate of nearly 30 per cent prove that the Prime Minister was deliberately deceiving the electors? Or, does it prove, in the light of his current statement, that inflation and unemployment will worsen in the next few months and that he is merely inconsistent and incompetent in economic matters? Has the Prime Minister considered cancelling his European visit so that he can remain at home and guide Australia through the tough months he tells us to expect?


Senator MURPHY -Of course the Prime Minister was not deliberately deceiving anyone. The assessment that he made and announced to the country was made on the basis of figures which were publicly available. Everyone could judge what the figures were showing. This was open to the Opposition as well as to the Government and to the public generally. One could draw inferences from them and make prophecies. Honourable senators opposite ought really to understand what the public of Australia understands and that is that inflation is world wide. What is happening here, as is happening in various other countries, to a great extent is outside the control of Australia as inflation is outside the control of any other country. Even the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was congratulating New Zealand because it had an inflation rate of one-third less than Australia. As we know, countries which have been a by-word for efficiency over the years, such as Japan, have a very much higher rate of inflation than Australia had at the last figures.

The one good thing that has come out of Senator Lawrie 's question is the recognition that the Prime Minister would help if he were in Australia. He recognises, as we all do, that in going overseas he is also helping to advance Australia's cause. The plea from the Opposition that the Prime Minister should bend his every endeavour and be here is certainly a welcome recognition of the capacity of the Prime Minister, but I think that honourable senators ought to recognise that he ought to be the judge of where that capacity can best be used, whether in discussing with the leaders of other nations how to cope with international problems or whether staying here. I think that the Opposition ought to accept the judgment of the Prime Minister. He undoubtedly is doing the best that he can to manage the affairs of the country.







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