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Tuesday, 18 September 1973
Page: 1128

Mr SNEDDEN (BRUCE, VICTORIA) - Will the Prime Minister give an unqualified and unchangeable guarantee that he would have an incomes policy as a companion to any prices policy and that the incomes policy would be enforced with the same sanctions as the prices policy and would cover as broad a range of incomes as the prices policy would cover a range of commodities and services? Will he give an unqualified undertaking that there would be an acceptance by the Commonwealth of any powers for a strictly limited period agreed with the Premiers?

Mr WHITLAM - I will certainly accept on behalf of the Government any reference of powers by the States. To be precise, I would accept a reference of powers over prices and incomes or prices alone. As I made plain at the Constitutional Review Convention - and the right honourable gentleman turned up at it from time to time - references by any State or States to the Australian Parliament can be in my view either permanent or for a limited term. The right honourable gentleman should also remember that the heads of five of the State delegations there and I, the head of the Australian delegation, agreed that at the next general poll the Australian Government should put to the people a referendum to make it clear that there can be references by the State Parliaments or any of them to the Australian Parliament of any matter upon which the States can legislate and that that reference can be revocable. It can be for a certain length of time or it can be subject to terms and conditions. I also undertook that at the same time we would be putting a referendum to enable the Australian Parliament to refer to the States any of its exclusive powers on the same conditions - duration, revocation and so on. To reiterate, certainly the Australian Government will accept any reference, even if it is a temporary one, by the States as long as there is, of course, a reference by the 2 major States of power to legislate with respect to prices and incomes.

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