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Thursday, 16 September 1971
Page: 1401


Mr BARNARD (BASS, TASMANIA) - Is the Prime Minister aware that the 'Sydney Morning Herald* yesterday summarised 'the whole underlying strategy of the Budget as 'creating a pool of unemployed to moderate wage demands and price increases'? ls he aware that on Tuesday the Liberal Premier of Tasmania said in regard to the Budget strategy that 'from the beginning I have said it was a mistaken policy which did not achieve what it set out to do' and that the Tasmanian Chief Secretary described the unemployment statistics for the State as 'alarming'? Will the Prime Minister pay no more heed to his Tasmanian colleague's call for a mini-Budget to boost the economy and counter unemployment than he has paid to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Manufactures, the trade union movement and independent economic commentators? Further, is the nation's economy to be sacrificed so that the face of the Government can be saved?


Mr McMAHON - The first comment I will make - and 1 will not make many comments because we have had too many questions about this matter already - is that the leading article in the 'Sydney Morning Herald* to which the honourable gentleman referred is totally false and could not have been made by anyone with a knowledge of the Government's approach to these problems. Consequently, I believe it is an imaginative essay by the person who wrote it. It is unfortunate, it is untrue, and the 'Sydney Morning Herald' deserves to be criticised for it.

As to the second part of the honourable gentleman's question, 1 can assure him that this Government is not directed by big business interests. It will make up its mind in the interests of the Australian population. If he and his Leader wish to join with big business, that is their concern, and I make no comment about it whatsoever. The only other facts that I will make known to the House this morning, because I think they are important, are that if the honourable gentleman wants to look at some of the indications of what might happen in the future, I can remind him that trading bank deposits rose by $157m last month. In the corresponding month of last year there was a slight fall. New lending increased, I think, by $44. lm last month as opposed to $35m the month before. These are all pretty important signs of what is happening.

What 1 want to point out to the honourable gentleman is that one of the two criti cal figures that will concern us will be known when we see the next consumer index. I am not sure of the date on which it will come out, but probably it will be towards the middle of next month. When that happens we will be in a position to judge just what the inflationary pressures are. I do not know what they are likely to be, but this will be a critical set of figures for us. But might I also state that this is an occasion when statesmanship is desperately needed in this country.

Opposition members - Hear, hear!


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The House will come to order. I remind the honourable member for Stun that all interjections are cut of order.


Mr McMAHON - That statesmanship and a degree of courage are needed, too, because we have to wait until we see the figures that are emerging before there can be any indication of a change of policy. But I affirm - and I want to affirm this in very clear language - that I believe many questions have been asked which all relate to the same subject and which I believe are considerably repetitious. What I can say to the House is this: The employment figures will be watched by us with the greatest caution and as each group of figures comes forward I will make certain that they are given immediate consideration by the Government.







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