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Monday, 17 September 1973
Page: 1045

Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) (Treasurer) - I am sorry that I cannot congratulate the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) on the presentation of his first economic case. Honourable members opposite ought to be very good judges of economic mismanagement because, after all, it was economic mismanagement that put them where they are now and put the Government where it is now.

Mr Bourchier - Go to the people now.

Mr CREAN - You cannot take votes in countries every day of the week or every 6 months. There were plenty of times when the previous Government could have gone to the country earlier and the result would have been very much different from what it is. It is very easy, of course, to quote the sets of figures that suit one best. I suppose it is good debate but sometimes it is also camouflage. I agree with .the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that inflation is a serious problem. It is hard to find any one satisfactory definition of inflation but sometimes it is described as too much money chasing too few goods. ' I shall quote some figures - I use an index that is used to evaluate them - dealing with what is called the volume of money. If one compares the volume of money in 2 periods it at least gives some indication of how money is being pumped into the economic system. Money, after all, ought to be a lubricant rather than a determinant and I think that sometimes that important factor is overlooked.

The volume of money is made up of 3 rather curious components - notes and coins in the bands of the public, the deposits of the public with the trading banks and deposits of the public with the savings banks. Those 3 sets of figures, if taken at 30 June 1972, came in round figures to $17.5 billion. At 30 June 1973 the figure had risen from $17.5 billion to $22 billion, which was an increase in that single year of 25.7 per cent. In the period from 1970 to 1971 the proportionate increase was 6.8 per cent and from July .1971 to June 1972 the increase was 10.5 per cent, but after June 1973 the increase was 25.7 per cent. If we take, as an honourable member did at question time today, the 4 quarters of a calendar year and then handpick 2 other quarters, one can get some rather curious distortions. But if one looks at how that figure rose from $17.5 billion to $22 billion between 1 July 1972 and 30 June 1973 one finds that it increased by 6.8 per cent in the first quarter and by 9.2 per cent in the second quarter. In other words, the increase in the volume of money in the quarter from July to September was as high as had been the case for a whole year earlier.

Mr Bury - Mr Deputy Speaker, may I suggest that the Treasurer deserves better from his colleagues than an empty House? I draw your attention to the state of the House.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes}Order! I suggest to the honourable member for Wentworth that if he wishes to draw the attention of the Chair to the state of the House he does so. In future if he make's a speech in doing so I will deal with him. It is not the appropriate time to make a speech. Ring the bells. (Quorum formed).

Mr CREAN - I might say in courtesy to my friend who called for the numbers that before I rose I had seriously considered calling for a quorum. I happen to be a bit of a stickler for parliamentary proprieties. Discussion on a matter of public importance is one of the rare occasions in Parliament when those who do not have the numbers can take the initiative. I suggest that if a quorum is called for during other discussions of matters of public importance I will move that the question be now put.

Mr Katter - You fellows are dictatorial.

Mr CREAN - There was only one member of the Australian Country Party present.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes}Order! The honourable member for Kennedy will withdraw that remark.

Mr Katter - What remark was that?

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