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Thursday, 25 November 1971
Page: 3640

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I ask a question of the Minister for Labour and National Service. I preface my question by reminding the honourable gentleman that yesterday during question time the Treasurer, when talking about the official figures issued by the Commonwealth Statistician, said:

.   . there has been a bit of a downturn in the rate of increase in wages. They show that there has been an increase in profits from 3 per cent to 6 per cent.

I think the actual figure was from minus 1 per cent to an increase of 6 per cent. He also said:

So far as consumer spending is concerned they show that there has been what I might describe as a continuing subdued growth.

He went on to say:

In private investment for the year up to" the September quarter there has been a growth of 14 per cent, compared with the previous year.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I suggest that the honourable member ask his question.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I want now to ask the Minister whether he will instruct counsel representing the Commonwealth in the present national wage inquiry by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to put the submissions to which I have already referred and also the further submission which the Treasurer made to this Parliament that the state of the economy is one of improvement in the rate of growth and that present economic indicators justify statements that he had previously made that the strength of the economy is continually improving? Finally, will the Minister ask counsel representing the Commonwealth in the national wage case to point out further that the Treasurer is of the opinion that there has been a growth in the operating surplus or, in general terms, the profit of enterprises?

Mr LYNCH - I can say to the honourable gentleman that counsel representing the Commonwealth in the present national wage case will certainly be made very much aware of any statement that the Treasurer has made in this or in any other place. The honourable gentleman who has posed the question will appreciate that it would be quite improper for me in this forum to canvass matters which are now before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, but I can say in general terms - and I do not go beyond the generality of observation - that the Commonwealth, in intervening in the national wage case, will be putting very strong arguments which go to the point of suggesting the need for the strongest possible restraint at the present time in relation to the need to contain excessive wage increases in the general community. I do not go beyond that point. It would be improper for me to do so. I have a great' deal of respect for the honourable member, as he knows, but I would have thought that he would not raise a question of this detail at this time.

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