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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 3979

Mr TURNER (BRADFIELD, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Prime Minister whether a retired Arbitration Commissioner of dubious expertise in the field of economics and a bright young man from the field of university Labor politics, now an adviser to the Prime Minister, are regarded as fit and proper persons to participate in a report which apparently took 16 days to produce and which purports to advise the Government on important matters relating to the persistent inflationary situation which is tearing the fabric of our society to ribbons. Would not a council of respected economic advisers, as proposed by the Vernon Commitee and unhappily rejected in a different situation by the then Prime Minister, given time to deliberate and to advise the Parliament and the people as well as the Government, inspire more confidence in a bewildered and strife torn nation?

Mr WHITLAM (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Prime Minister) - I welcome the rather belated tribute that the honourable member for Bradfield pays to the Vernon Committee. He will find that I had no criticism of the Vernon Committee when it was appointed or when it reported. In fact, I very much regret that its advice was disregarded and rubbished in the way it was.

Mr Turner - No more than I did at the time.

Mr WHITLAM - I do not recall the honourable member going on record in its favour at the time when the Party that he supports - more or less - was in power. The present Government has availed itself of the services of all the living members of the Vernon Committee, including Sir James Vernon himself, Mr Kenneth Myer and Professor Karmel. All of them are very happy to be advising the present Government, knowing full well that when their advice comes to hand it will be made public promptly and has a good chance of being acted upon. The honourable gentleman referred to one of the advisers available for Mr Terry Winter to consult in the preparation of his paper, which I tabled yesterday. I do not know to whom he was referring; I do not know whether »t was Professor Gruen, Mr Brogan, Mr Bannon, Mr Spigelman or Mr Troy. I believe that the gentlemen whose names I have mentioned are respected both inside and outside the Parliament for their public spirit and economic expertise.

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