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Tuesday, 12 November 1985
Page: 1956

Senator MESSNER —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer the Minister to his answer to me last week, when he said that he would check to see whether the Budget Papers contained any estimate of the effect on forecasts of movement in the exchange rate, given that the Budget is based on a trade weighted index figure for the dollar of 68 and that it has been well below that level for many months and is currently below 60. Is there any such provision in the Budget? Has the Minister noted a further fall in the dollar following today's worst ever balance of payments figures? Since he has not yet replied, as he undertook to do last week, or supplied information as to the effect on the Budget of the falling dollar, will he now please explain what effects the sustained weakness of the dollar is having on the Budget expectations? If not, how long will it be before he can provide a re-assessment of the Budget to the Parliament?

Senator WALSH —I thought what I said last week was that I would check to see whether the Budget Papers had any reference to it. I suppose I should apologise for not having done that. If there is such a reference in the Budget Papers, Senator Messner really could have checked it himself. I have not yet asked the Department to prepare an estimate. The Department of Finance, of course, is only in control of the outlays side of the Budget. There could be some effects on the revenue side as well. Senator Messner, of course, is continuing the campaign which members of the Opposition first started early in 1983. They are, of course, economic quislings who are continuing with their campaign to talk down the dollar. For example Senator Messner made reference to the sustained weakness of the Australian dollar. Whether that is sustained or not is yet to be seen. I suppose it is easy to understand the frustration of members of the Opposition who, having just elected a new leader they thought was going to lead them back to the promised land, have found that instead he has led them down about 3 or 4 per cent in the polls. The Opposition is quite clearly desperately searching for some other issue, non-issue or pseudo issue on which it thinks it might be able to make a little political mileage.