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Thursday, 16 September 1971
Page: 1406

Mr HAYDEN (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - My question is directed to the Treasurer. I refer to his current terrified overreaction to the subject of inflation and the obsessional fixation of him and his colleagues on the subject of wages.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable member will ask his question. He shall not make comment.

Mr HAYDEN - 1 ask him: In relation to the causes of inflation, has he had an opportunity of reading the Reserve Bank annual report in which, inter aiia, the following cause of inflation is stressed: The need for structural changes and measures to increase competition amongst domestic producers in the Australian economy? Has he read the White Paper from the Treasury on the Australian economy 1971 where causes of inflation are identified as, inter alia, insufficient competition and wrong allocation of scarce productive resources? Will he outline steps he has contemplated to achieve these ends - that is, structural changes, increased competition and more effective allocation of scarce productive resources - since these comments were published by authoritative bodies a few weeks ago? Finally, will he prepare and publish a paper on how these ends are to be achieved and especially how economic fine tuning and careful discrimination in the use of economic tools between sectors of the economy -

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable member's question is far to long and far too intricate to be asked at question time. I ask the honourable gentleman to finish his question.

Mr HAYDEN - Well, Mr Speaker, I know that he is a beginner as a Treasurer but he should be able to answer this simple question.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! Never mind whether he should or not. I think that this question is far too long to be asked at question time.

Mr HAYDEN - I conclude by asking him how he will do those things to avoid a repetition of his Government's policies of broad-axing the economy as is currently the case.

Mr SNEDDEN - I appreciate the kindly references the honourable gentleman has made and 1 remind him that such references do not in any way hide the rather facetious nature of his question, nor do they hide that the question does not report what the Reserve Bank annual report and the Treasury White Paper stated. It is universally condemned when a person quotes something but does not complete the quotation. That is why the oath in a court refers to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. What the honourable member is doing is attempting to extract some basis on which to prop up a question which is designed to show how smart he is. Others will judge whether or not he is smart. The causes of inflation have been argued by myself, by the Reserve Bank and in the Treasury White Paper and there is a complete unanimity of view among all three. The cause of inflation in Australia today is essentially a cost-push pressure and I said in the Budget Speech that this cost- push pressure is caused mainly, though not wholly, by wage pressures. On many occasions I have spoken about, the need for greater competitive forces in our economy and I remind the honourable gentleman that I had the honour of introducing into this House the Trade Practices Act. It is on the basis of the Trades Practices Act that we have now before us the prospect of a greater free flow of competitive forces in our economy. It so happens that I am proud of the part I played in that process and I will continue to play it.

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