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Tuesday, 23 April 1985
Page: 1635


Mrs CHILD —My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Why has the Government felt it necessary to announce that it will be making a May statement on the economy in which it will detail $1 billion worth of savings?


Mr HAWKE —I thank the honourable member for Henty for her question. The Government's commitment to expenditure restraint in order to sustain recovery and to preserve the benefits of depreciation has been enunciated by both the Treasurer and me on a number of occasions. We have promised the Australian people that we will deliver on the trilogy, and we will. We are determined that the burden of fiscal restraint shall be shared equitably across the community. In addition to the May statement, there will be an ongoing process in the discussions with the State Premiers and in the Budget in August.

It should be quite clear by now that we on this side of the House clearly accept the obligations and the responsibilities to manage the economy in a way consistent with our commitments on employment growth and inflation and that we on this side of the House are prepared to make the tough decisions which are necessary to give effect to sound economic management. So it is quite clear that we on this side of the House accept responsibility.

Let us look at the rabble on the other side of the House. Let us look at the position over there. On Sunday, l0 March, the Leader of the Opposition had this to say:

I don't think the Labor Party are fair dinkum about getting expenditure down. I think we are looking at successively increasing deficits under them.

On 6 March, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said:

The Liberal Party will support changes made by the Government in the expenditure area.

I think the honourable member for Henty would agree with me that we do not expect much from the Leader of the Opposition. His grasp on economics is about as tenuous as his grasp on his own leadership. But we do expect a little bit more from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. What is becoming increasingly clear now is that the Opposition cannot get away with these hypocritical statements any longer because its hypocrisy is now starting to be realised. The hypocrisy on the other side of the House is now being widely understood and as of today has been made quite clear right in the heart of its normal area of support. The Australian Chamber of Commerce has now made clear what it thinks about the respective integrity of this Government and the Opposition. In a statement issued today under the heading 'Business Welcomes PM's expenditure cuts commitment' it said the cuts were warmly applauded by the business community. That organisation understands where integrity is on this matter. What does it have to say about those opposite? This is how the statement finished:

It has been noted within the business community that the Federal Opposition has not made any public announcement that it would pursue a more stringent 'trilogy' of commitments than that announced by the Prime Minister.

It concluded in this form:

Business would expect the Federal Opposition to adopt as an integral component of its economic policy a 'trilogy' commitment that promised net reductions in expenditure, revenue and the deficit. Their silence on this important matter is disconcerting.

What is realised across the community now is that in government they were an abject failure and in opposition they are a collective hypocrisy.