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Tuesday, 11 September 1973
Page: 733

Mr McMAHON - I ask the Prime Minister whether he believes that, in the interests of public trust and confidence in the Labor Government and of its financial and economic policies, ill-conceived or ill-considered statements or statements creating a false impression of an economically damaging kind should not be made by him or by his Cabinet colleagues. If so, how can he reconcile the Treasurer's statement to which my colleague the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has already referred this morning, and more particularly his own statement to the Chamber of Manufactures ridiculing the suggestion that there would not be another phase of economic and financial policies with the announcement made on Sunday of the decision to appreciate again the value of the Australian dollar and to increase interest rate structures which already has created great uncertainty throughout the business community? I also ask the Prime Minister: Does he know that it has been a general rule in the past that decisions affecting changes in the value of the Australian dollar have been taken by the Cabinet as a whole-

Government supporters - Order, order.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I ask the right honourable gentleman to make his question as brief as possible.

Mr McMAHON - This is the end of it, Mr Speaker. Does he know that such decisions have been taken in the past after ascertaining the effect on producers and consumers from such departments as the Department of Primary Industry, the Department of Minerals and Energy, the Department of Overseas Trade and the Department of Secondary Industry which are the only functional departments with a clear and intimate association with producers and distributors and whose advice just cannot be ignored if the economy is to be satisfactorily managed?

Mr WHITLAM - I certainly agree that a Prime Minister and other Ministers should not make irresponsible statements. It was at least 2 decades before we were in the fortunate position in this country of having a Prime Minister, a Treasurer and other Ministers who did not make irresponsible statements. I am well aware - and I am grateful to the right honourable gentleman for the reminder - that variations in the exchange rate used to be made by the Cabinet as a whole. Every stock exchange, every company and every government agency here and abroad also will be grateful to be reminded of the fact that the last time a variation was made in the exchange rate by a previous Government it took 3 days for the Cabinet to thrash it out. It is refreshing that we now have a Government which acts in a more prompt, responsible and effective fashion.

Mr Wentworth - Just like on Galston.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The House will come to order. There are far too many interjections.

Mr WHITLAM - But that was a singularly irresponsible one, was it not? We have been forgetting the honourable member. It has greatly redounded to the credit of this country that in matters of international finance we now have a government which is able to act responsibly, effectively and promptly.

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