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Monday, 22 October 1973
Page: 2407

Mr SNEDDEN - My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. With inflation at such a high rate that it is doing serious social and economic harm to the community, will the Prime Minister make a statement to the House setting out the corrective measures the Government proposes in order to combat this insidious evil? Does the Government intend to concentrate its efforts on monetary policy?

Mr WHITLAM - The Government has not concentrated and does not intend to concentrate its efforts in combating inflation purely on monetary policy. The Government has twice revalued the currency. On another occasion it stood firm when the United States of America devalued its currency. We had an inquiry into steel prices at the beginning of the year. We cut tariffs by 25 per cent. Pursuant to the mandate we sought from the people last year, we have introduced in the Senate trade practices and consumer protection legislation. We have established, pursuant to our mandate, a Joint Parliamentary Committee on Prices which is in the process of examining the prices of imports, building materials and other matters. The Prices Justification Tribunal has been established. Later, at the end of question time, I will be tabling the notification by the first companies affected by the determinations of that tribunal. We have augmented its membership. We have taken action on prices in the Australian Capital Territory where the Australian Government is able to do so. We have sought the co-operation of the States in an attack on inflation, particularly in those matters which lie within their jurisdiction, such as land prices. The State of New South Wales in particular has not responded to my invitation to the States. We have set up a royal commission into the oil industry with terms of reference to investigate the marketing and pricing policies of oil companies in Australia. We have put through the Parliament Bills for the people on 8 December to vest the power in this Parliament to pass laws with respect to prices and also with respect to incomes. The right honourable gentleman will remember that his predecessor as Leader of the Liberal Party suggested such a course as recently as last November, and he has on various occasions suggested it and taken steps away from it. I am not sure of his current attitude.

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