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Wednesday, 17 October 1973
Page: 2241

Mr Willis Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to last night's edition of the high-rating television program This Day Tonight' in which an interviewer repeatedly asserted that the Prime Minister wants a wage freeze? Will the Prime Minister agree that those assertions are a direct contradiction of his previous statements on the Government's wage policy? Will he reaffirm that in the event that the referendum later this year gives the Government power to control wages the Government will not then impose a wage freeze?

Mr WHITLAM - I did not see the program This Day Tonight' last night. I did not know that any such allegation had been made on the program. I certainly welcome the opportunity to repudiate any such allegation. The Government would not impose a wage freeze. The Government is committed to the arbitration system for the determination of wages and salaries. This has been made plain by the Government. It has been made plain by the Government's Party organisation as recently as the weekend before last. Many people deliberately want to obscure issues like this one. As I have said, about 20 years ago there was a use of the Arbitration Commission, in effect, to bring about a freeze of Commonwealth awarded wages and salaries. However, I do not believe that any Australian Government - for instance, a government of the Opposition's complexion - would these days undertake a wage freeze by that method or by direct legislative or administrative means if the referendum were carried. I can certainly say on behalf of the Australian Labor Party that it would not have a wage freeze. I discount allegations that a Liberal Party Government would initiate a wage freeze.

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