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Tuesday, 11 September 1984
Page: 972

Mrs DARLING —Can the Prime Minister assure Australian women, and men where appropriate, balancing the household budget that the 1984-85 Budget will support and not hurt the family unit?

Mr HAWKE —I am indebted to the honourable member for Lilley for her question and I can give her the assurance that she seeks. This Budget, which was brought down by the Treasurer, has, as is well known and documented now, been widely approved around Australia. One of the reasons for its very wide approval is that families , and particularly those who have the direct responsibility for budgeting for families, recognise that it will play an important part in continuing the process of gradually improving the real standards available to them. There are so many good things in the Budget relevant to the question asked that I cannot go to all of them, but let me go to those which are most important and most significant.

First of all, the Budget plays its part in continuing the bringing down of the inflation rate which we inherited from our conservative predecessors. When we came to office the inflation rate was over 11 per cent per annum-a quite horrendous rate, particularly when it was associated with high and rising levels of unemployment. Already we have more than halved that rate of inflation. This Budget brought down by my colleague the Treasurer will continue that process of inflation reduction. Nothing can be more important for the people, the families and those budgeting than to know that we have got away from those horrendously high levels of inflation which were characteristic of the previous Government.

I also refer to employment. What is very important for the families of Australia is that they have some hope about future employment prospects for their young people. In the last year of the conservative Government there was an increase in unemployment of a quarter of a million. Under this Government and its budgetary policy, which has been continued in the last Budget, there has been already an increase of a quarter of a million jobs. That is a half a million turnaround.

Mr Goodluck —Not in Tasmania.

Mr HAWKE —I cannot help it if the State Government of Tasmania is incompetent. I have talked about inflation, and I have talked about jobs which have been assisted by this Budget. I also refer the honourable member to interest rates. Under this Government and its budgetary policies there has been a reduction in interest rates and that is a very important component for average families. There has been a considerable reduction in the general level of interest rates. Home interest rates are down by one per cent and the strategy followed by my colleague the Treasurer, in implementing the policy of the Government, will ensure that there is further downward pressure on interest rates rather than the achievement of record high interest rates which occurred under the previous Government. Those are some of the basic areas of importance to the type of family about whom the honourable member was talking-inflation, interest rates and job opportunities.

Let me go to the more specific details. The average tax cut of $7.60 will increase the disposable income available to those budgeting for families. That will ensure gradually increasing real standards of living for those families and the women of Australia who generally have the most significant role in that respect.

Let me point out to the honourable member that, apart from that broad average picture which I properly paint, this Government, through the Treasurer's Budget, showed especial concern for the most needy. I suggest-I know that the honourable member recognises this from her work-that the greatest area of need lies with single parent families with children. I am very proud of the fact that in the Budget brought down by the Treasurer the greatest help was given in that area of need. I think the honourable member would know that a single parent with two children and paying rent will have an increase in her or his weekly income of $ 13.50, which is made up, as I think the honourable member will appreciate, of the basic pension increase of $2.50, the parent's allowance of $2, an amount of $2 for each child and $5 in additional rent assistance. The most needy single parent, male or female, with two children will receive an additional $13.50.

Whether we look at the broad picture, taking account of the factors on which I have elaborated in this answer, or whether we look particularly at those most in need, people can look with confidence, as they have done, at the way in which this Budget has addressed itself to the needs of ordinary, everyday Australians. We are properly proud of the Budget that has been brought down by the Treasurer.