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Tuesday, 23 May 1989
Page: 2441

Senator ALSTON —My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the Government disagree with Mr Nobby Clark's prediction at the weekend that next month's current account deficit is likely to be close to $2 billion, especially having regard to such lumpy items as aircraft importations? I refer to the Treasurer's admission that, because of the current account deficit disaster, Australia will have to improve its trade surplus by another $2 billion next year just to meet its debt obligations. In view of the Government's belated conversion to the need to employ all four arms of economic policy, what approach does the Government propose to take to meet the increased level of debt service, other than its current policy of drift?

Senator BUTTON —I thought that the Treasurer had made his views quite clear about the statements made by Mr Nobby Clark at the weekend.

Senator Alston —Will it be $2 billion or not?

Senator BUTTON —Whether he agrees with the figure or not, I do not know. It is certainly recognised by the Government that in next month's current account figure there will be a large aircraft component which will force that up. That is a matter of common knowledge. In so far as the respective arms of Government policy are concerned, that matter is currently subject to Government consideration and will be the subject of an announcement at the appropriate time.