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Tuesday, 10 September 1985
Page: 324

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —My question is addressed to the Minister for Finance. I refer him to the sweetheart deal on wages between the Government and the Australian Council of Trade Unions under which the Government plans a tax cut in August 1986 to offset the belated, partial and inadequate discounting of wage indexation next April. Will the Government now give a clear and unequivocal undertaking that these tax cuts either will or will not be conditional on the ACTU delivering industrial peace, which is its part of the deal, particularly during that five-month gap? In other words, will the Government deliver if the ACTU does not?

Senator WALSH —That question has about as much relationship to reality as does a Patrick Partners prospectus. Australia has just had two years of economic growth approaching five per cent and is poised for a third year of economic growth of five per cent. The critical factor, as I have always said, in sustaining high rates of economic growth is an effective wages policy and an agreement with the union movement. This Government has achieved that. I suppose that there is a bit of pique on the other side that this Government has delivered what the previous Government so spectacularly failed to deliver; that is, sustained high rates of economic growth in conjunction with a fall in the inflation rate approaching 15 per cent.

If I may say so, I regard it as impertinent that the architects of the disastrous policies which plunged the country into the worst recession since the 1930s, and which gave us for the first time in history double digit inflation as well as double digit unemployment should have the audacity and effrontery to criticise, in this Parliament or anywhere else, the central plank of this Government's economic policy, which has delivered sustained and high rates of economic growth in association with falling rates of inflation.