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Thursday, 22 August 1985
Page: 244


Senator PETER RAE(10.56) —We have listened to two extremely important matters of great detail tonight. I rise to add one which is of importance but not of great detail. I simply wish to take the opportunity to refer to a personal explanation made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, Mr Howard, in reply to a statement made by the Minister for Finance, Senator Walsh, who, in this chamber, made certain claims. Mr Howard, in his personal explanation, said:

In the Senate yesterday, the Minister for Finance, Senator Walsh, disputed the claim I made on the Carleton-Walsh report on Tuesday evening . . . in which I said that in the first Budget I brought down in 1978-79 the trilogy adopted as holy economic writ by the present Government had been met. The basis for Senator Walsh disputing that claim was that in that first Budget there had been a money increase of $140m in the size of the deficit, compared with 1977-78. That of course is true.

However, the deficit of 1978-79 was lower in terms of percentage of gross domestic product than the previous year. The fact is that the condition of the trilogy that the deficit be reduced in money terms, as distinct from a reduction as a percentage of GDP, relates only to 1985-86. Therefore, the basis of Senator Walsh's rejection of my claim is false. For good measure I remind Senator Walsh also that the Budget deficit as a proportion of GDP in the year immediately preceding my becoming Treasurer, was 3.7 per cent of GDP and in the final Budget I delivered in 1982-83, five years later, it was 2.7 per cent of GDP.

That is the end of the personal explanation. It is my belief that any member of the other House who has a statement made in this place against him is entitled to have his response recorded in this place. I do this not for the purpose of re-raising the matter but to record Mr Howard's response.