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Wednesday, 9 November 1983
Page: 2490

Mr SINCLAIR —I direct my question to the Treasurer. The Treasurer will be aware that, prior to his announcement last Thursday night about the change in the level of interest rates on Australian Savings Bonds, there had been widespread community discussion about the level of Aussie Bond interest rates and Press comment that they were overvalued. Is the Treasurer aware that there was apparently an unprecedented volume of sales of Aussie Bonds at the Parliament House post office between 4.30 p.m. and 5 p.m. on that same day? Does he recall authorising his staff to advise the Press Gallery at about 4.30 p.m. of his intention to hold a Press conference on that matter at 5 o'clock that day? While recognising and appreciating the Treasurer's courtesy in providing advice on such matters on a confidential basis to the Opposition, will the Treasurer ensure that a public notification on this kind of market sensitive information will not be given in future, providing as it does an opportunity for profitable speculation by a select few who are uninhibited by requirements of confidentiality at the public's expense?

Mr KEATING —I do not think anyone would have needed a crystal ball to have known that the Government was considering the Australian Savings Bond rate. In fact I had been saying for some time that we were keeping the rate under review. Therefore, given the fact that we had seen a decline in secondary markets for treasury bonds and also a very sharp decline last week in the rates for treasury notes, I am sure anybody who wanted to take advantage of the rate which was then applying to the current series of ASBs could have taken them up. I am not aware of any sales from the Parliament House post office. I do not keep my eye on its activities. If the right honourable gentleman is miffed by missing out himself, perhaps he ought to ride the trends a little more closely and read the Press comment in the financial pages. If he wants to contact my office, I will give him some clues as to the indices that he can look at to see the trend in interest rates.