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Tuesday, 13 March 1973
Page: 466

Mr SNEDDEN - Did the Minister for Overseas Trade say last week that the Government would be depending partly on the idealism of the man in the street to invest in national development bonds, which he has in mind as a method of financing the. Australian Industry Development Corporation's vastly increased activities? Might not the man in the street see the same sense of idealism in investing in housing through permanent building societies at interest rates higher than those of Commonwealth bonds? Has the honourable gentleman proposed also that tax deductions or rebates may be used to make national investment bonds more attractive, and is this not just another method of increasing the actual interest rate? Will the honourable gentleman explain why tax deductions should be allowed for the form of investment which he has in mind but not allowed for housing through permanent building societies? Is the proposal which he envisages supported by the Treasurer? If it is, will he, in the interests of open government, make available the documents which he and the Treasurer have drawn up in relation to this proposal?

Dr F CAIRNS (LALOR, VICTORIA) (Minister for Overseas Trade) - I notice an astonishing change in the attitude of the right honourable Leader of the Opposition to open government since he became the Leader of the Opposition. His attitude when on this side of the House was in very strange contrast to his desire for openness now.

Mr Whitlam - He has become more open as he has become more remote from Government.

Dr J F CAIRNS - Yes, and his openness increases in proportion to his remoteness. However, the question which the right honourable gentleman asked me is an interesting question. First of all, I would have thought that he could have understood that Australians will have a sense of idealism in their desire to own their own country and to buy their own country back from the foreign corporations that the right honourable gentleman, when he was Treasurer, permitted to make inroads upon the ownership of Australia, very often in complete contradiction to what the Leader of the Australian Country Party, whoever he might have been, desired. I would think that that kind of problem is one that he would have to reconcile more with those on his side of the House than between him and us.

The matter of priorities - the Australian Industry Development Corporation as against building societies - is, of course, an important question. Housing is very important just as investment by the AIDC, for the reasons I have just mentioned, is very important. The Government will be taking properly into account the relative priorities that are involved and its decisions on this matter will reflect its judgment of those priorities. I would think that they will meet much more the desires of the Australian public than those that were established under the government of which the right honourable gentleman was a part.

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