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Thursday, 18 May 1972
Page: 2755

Mr HURFORD (ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Has the Treasurer noted in today's Press that Tooth and Co. Ltd has announced an even larger profit in the year in which it has given a one for one bonus. Does he know that the rate of return on invested funds in the 8 most prominent breweries in Australia in 1970-71 was well over 20 per cent? Does he agree with me that this is an iniquitously exorbitant rate of return, although similar to exorbitant profits being made by companies and received by shareholders In many other fields? When will the Minister and his Government, if they are serious in fighting inflation, seek to restrain the employers of the community instead of merely following their shallow policy of blaming the employees?

Mr SNEDDEN - I am glad that the question has been put on the basis of an attack on profit for it does disclose the reality of the differences of the parties. The Australian Labor Party is a socialist Party, and its platform declares it to be a socialist Party. Those people who have authority in the Labor Party - and the honourable gentleman unfortunately, does not have that authority - always try to avoid this issue, and use terms like 'democratic socialism* or some other term in order to put off the issue. The fact remains that it is a socialist Party, whereas the Liberal Party and its coalition partner, the Australian Country Party, believe m free enterprise and the entitlement of people exercising enterprise to receive the benefits of their enterprise. To select any particular company and say that that is representative of the whole area of industry, trade and commerce in Australia is, of course, quite inaccurate in a logical way, but more importantly it discloses a willingness at any time to attack private enterprise; and it needs to be clear that it ls a willingness to attack private enterprise.

Iturn to the next point of the question: Why do we blame - to quote the words of the honourable gentlemean, or as near as I can to quoting them - the worker? There is no blame on the worker. The Government identifies as the major cause of inflationary pressures excess wage increases, and it says that these are being won by a quite ruthless use of industrial power. When that industrial power is used it leaves a legacy of difficulty for everybody else in the community, except those possessed of industrial power. That is the Government's attitude. We believe that the major cause of inflationary pressures is excess wage increases. We say also that it is very important that business does what it can to absorb all the costs that are forced upon it by increased wages. From business we want better management, better productivity performance, and, where possible, the absorption of those costs. I think that if the honourable member would look at the statistics he would find that the share of the gross national product which is going to wages, incomes and supplements has risen quite noticeably over recent years but that the same could not be said of profits.

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