Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Friday, 8 November 1985
Page: 1844

Senator MESSNER —I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he recalls saying, in reply to a question from Senator Chaney yesterday:

. . . the Government intends to stick with the decision to float the Australian dollar and allow the exchange rate to be set by market forces . . .

What action in the money and foreign exchange markets was undertaken by the Reserve Bank of Australia yesterday to put a floor under the value of the Australian dollar? What further action is being contemplated to be taken today and in the future? Do these actions represent substantial qualification to the Minister's strong support for a freely floating Australian dollar referred to previously?

Senator WALSH —I do not know what the Reserve Bank did yesterday or today and if I did know I certainly would not tell Senator Messner. Of course, the Opposition has a long and lamentable history of economic sabotage in the area of the exchange rate, going back to the period prior to the demise of the unlamented Fraser Government when it forecast definitively a devaluation of the dollar if the Australian Labor Party were elected. Since everybody knew that Labor would be elected and some people were silly enough to believe the sorts of things that the then discredited Treasurer and his leader were saying, there was a run on the dollar and this finished up costing the Australian taxpayers, via the Reserve Bank, something of the order of $400m to $500m. I regret to note that the Opposition is still committed to a policy of economic sabotage. As to the earlier part of Senator Messner's question, the Government has decided to float the dollar and that is a decision which will stick. We will not go back to the regulated currency regime which was a feature of the previous Government's policy.

Senator MESSNER —I ask a supplementary question. I fail to see why the Minister will not tell us what the Reserve Bank has been doing in the markets. Surely that is the key point. The misleading answer that the Minister has just given us is obviously a subterfuge because it is clear that the Government is involved, via the Reserve Bank, and I ask for his comment on that.

Senator WALSH —I have already said that I do not know and that if I did I would not tell Senator Messner. There are very good reasons for that because in telling Senator Messner one would be telling the whole world and thereby playing into the hands of currency speculators by giving them foreknowledge of what, if anything, the Reserve Bank was going to do. I note again, with great regret, Senator Messner's eagerness to collaborate with foreign currency speculators who are trying to undermine the Australian economy and rip off the Australian people.