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Wednesday, 6 October 1971
Page: 1915

Mr TURNER (BRADFIELD, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the statement in today's newspapers by 12 of Australia's leading academic economists urging the Government to realign the Australian dollar somewhere half way between the United States dollar and the yen. I ask the right honourable gentlemen: Firstly, is it a fact that manufacturing and rural industries and mineral exporters have been urging realignment on the basis of parity between the Australian and United States dollars? Secondly, is it a fact that, if the course urged by these powerful pressure groups were adopted, it would add fuel to the fires of inflation, whatever else it might or might not do? In these circumstances, can the Prime Minister give an assurance that, when the Government announces its decision, it will table a White Paper honestly distilling the advice tendered to it by its experts in the Treasury, the Reserve Bank and elsewhere, in order to reassure the people that a responsible decision has been made?

Mr McMAHON (LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Prime Minister) - I have read with a great deal of interest the recommendations that were made by 12 economists and the various alternatives that they suggested, particularly with relationship of the Australian dollar to the United States dollar, sterling and the yen or somewhere half way between the US dollar and the yen. At the moment it must be obvious to everyone that we could not make up our minds definitively as to what we should d6 because, at present, none of these currencies is fixed in terms of parities in the international monetary markets. Whilst they remain, as it were, floating, we can not tie ourselves to one or the other.

Our position is clear and was made clear by me in a statement that I made in this House. We will keep all our options open. We will not be affected by pressure groups because we will act in the interests that we deem to be those of the people as a whole. So, consequently, we will be watching the problem carefully. I have had several discussions personally with Reserve Bank and Treasury officials. Some of the various alternatives that were put up by officials and by economists have been considered. But I can assure the honourable member that we will have one concern only, that is, the interest of the total of the Australian people.

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