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Monday, 22 October 1973
Page: 2403

Mr Eric Robinson (MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND) - Was the Treasurer, in commenting on the September quarter cost of living increases, correctly reported in weekend newspapers as saying that inflation would probably get worse and that pensions should be increased by more than $1.50 in the autumn session? Since pensioners should not be disadvantaged now by the Government's inability to control inflation, will the Treasurer advise that he is prepared to recommend the introduction of a Bill into this House this week to correct the imbalance by a fair and acceptable amount?

Mr CREAN (MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA) (Treasurer) - I did not indicate that inflation would get worse; I indicated that inflation would not stop. If any member of this House thinks it would have stopped had there been a different government, he is entitled to that misapprehension. As to the figure which was released last week, I rather obliquely described it in one place as ancient history because it records prices for the most part as they were on 15 August last. I do not think any member of this House could tell me of anything that has fallen in price since 15 August. It is now one month into the following quarter. I merely indicated what I thought was quite frank and honest - after all, Frank is my name - that it is unlikely that the consumer price index for the December quarter will decline. It is true that it may decline relatively. I hope it may increase less than 3.6 per cent but there is no certainty that it will.

Dr Forbes - God help us if it is not.

Mr CREAN - Well, God did not help you much in the past, particularly on 2 December. If the honourable gentleman, who represents a rural seat, looks at those figures he will find that half of the increase in the consumer price index is accounted for by the higher incomes which the people he represents are receiving. Mr Speaker, I hesitate to use the word 'humbug', but it seems to me that it is humbug that those who are receiving higher prices should complain because the consumer price index has risen. I indicated that if at the autumn session, which is some months off, the $1.50 projected pension increase seemed inadequate taking into account what the consumer price index might show by March we would be prepared to look at the pension rate again.

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