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Thursday, 18 February 1971

Senator PROWSE (Western Australia) - This afternoon one of the criticisms which have been directed at the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) has arisen from the fact that in debating an urgency motion we are allowed only 15 minutes in which to develop our views. As I have some 8 minutes it can hardly be expected that I. shall delve very deeply into the subject matter of the motion before the Senate. I cannot say that I. agree with the ' criticism that a speech limited to 1.5 minutes is necessarily a bad thing. I think if we had more 15 minute . speeches in the Senate we would have a better debate on some subjects. I think the Senate debate on this subject -has been conducted on a high standard. 1 congratulate the speakers who have taken part in- it. They have attempted to deal factually and in an objective manner with the subject instead of making a series of purely political speeches. I think that Senator Willesee gave a good example by setting the tone. He was followed admirably by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton). I think this subject is too serious in its consequences to be used as a means of trying to gain political advantage.

Senator Cavanagh - The honourable senator obviously did not hear the speech made by Senator Sim.

Senator PROWSE - I heard all the speeches. We are excellent in degrees, perhaps. I would not criticise Senator Sim. We are not all activated in the same way. Of all honourable senators opposite I think Senator Cavanagh could understand Senator Sim's speech. I think that not only in thus Senate but as a nation we must examine this problem factually and dispassionately, trying to arrive at a solution which is for the benefit of all. We are not on our own. Other countries face this problem. Because I have a very short time in which to speak I propose to read an extract from an article which puts into much better language than T could, some aspects of the situation. Today 1 obtained from the Parliamentary Library an article culled from 'Economies'. The article is headed 'Bitter medicine for the West's inflation'. It deals with the report of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on this subject. I have time to read only the concluding paragraph which states:

Appropriately for a document that proved too hot for the OECD to handle in its original form, the report contained a dire prediction of the social and political consequences of continued inflation: 'Because resentment against inflation is incoherent and diffused through the community, it provides favourable terrain for extremists at both ends of the political spectrum, lt gives ammunition to those who favour more authoritarian forms of government relying on extensive wage, price, and production controls, and to those who hark back to earlier times before governments had accepted their present responsibilities for growth, high employment, and social justice.'

The report highlights the fact that if we are going to depend solely on economic measures to deal with this problem we will find ourselves faced with some very unpleasant consequences. This attitude is borne out by another excellent article which I commend to the Senate. It is headed "The Australian Economy' and is to be found in the publication 'Australia's Economic Review', the fourth quarter 1970, No. 12. I. shall read this because it is very much to the point. It states:

It is not exaggerating to say that, here as in Western Europe and North America, the future of the economy and society we have been building over the last quarter century is at stake. Full employment and rising living standards, as the basis for a life of greater freedom and better quality, have been good and worthy aims and have been amply realised. They could go on bringing us continuingly better lives.

But they cannot go on if they bring us also accelerating inflation. Hie economists, ns economists, can defeat inflation only by cutting the level of employment and the pace of growth. The inflationary pressures now facing the Western world would be defeated only by quite drastic, and socially most damaging cuts.

The problem has moved into the social and moral field. Its handling requires far-sighted leadership. The whole community is responsible for what now threatens, and the whole community will be affected by the disastrous effects both of accelerating inflation and of the policies needed to control it if it persists.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - Order! The time allowed for this motion having expired the Senate will proceed to the business of the day.

Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.

General Business Taking Precedence of Government Business After 8 p.m.

Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:

That intervening general business be postponed until after the consideration of notice of motion No. 2.

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