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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 4216

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury (RYAN, QUEENSLAND) - There is too much audible conversation in the chamber.

MrHURFORD - believe that the forthcoming referendums on prices and incomes are of importance for the future development of effective economic policy in Australia. Several of us have studied the developments of prices and incomes policies overseas and have made contributions to the Australian debate on the Applicability of such policies in this country.

The economists say so clearly that if the referenda on 8 December are not carried the opportunity will be lost for many years and therefore they advocate for a yes vote on both questions. Their views are so clearly put before this country and yet the Deputy Leader of the CountryParty drags up one lone voice in his arguments against them.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury - Order! I have already asked honourable members to reduce the level of conversation inthe chamber. The honourable member is entitled to be heard in silence.

Mr HURFORD - Mr Deputy Speaker, it is only because members opposite do not want to hear the arguments put forward by independent people and because they are interested only in their own small arguments in favour of this absurd item that they will not keep the usual quietude in this place.

We have been asked what controls we would like to bring in if these referenda are passed. I wish to draw attention to the work of the Prices Justification Tribunal. The Bill establishing the Prices Justification Tribunal was fought in this House by the Opposition tooth and nail. Yet, there is now such independent testimony that the Tribunal is working, even by the 'Australian Financial Review' which looked askance at the Tribunal at the time its establishment was being considered. I draw attention to articles by Mr Paul Gardiner on 5 and 6 November. All this is unsolicited commendation for the work of the Prices Justification Tribunal. When the Tribunal looks into such matters as steel, paper or General Motors-Holden's Pty Ltd, which it is considering at the moment, and comes down with a recommendation the whole of the country has to wait to see whether the board of directors of the particular companies being investigated will accept the Tribunal's recommendations. What an absurd position this is. Of course we have to have powers in the central Government, powers which are possessed by every other country, powers which can be used when the Tribunal reports on the steel industry, the paper industry or even on General Motors-Holden's, to see that the Tribunal's recommendations are put into effect. That is one of the things that we want to do. We have not dragged this sort of attitude, this sort of philosophy, out of thin air. It is clearly following the philosophy, the work and the writings of Professor Galbraith who has pointed out that powers of price control over selected commodities are very important in this day and age when we are confronted with this complicated condition of inflation and when we need every weapon that we can possibly find to help fight it.

The Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) brought up the price of land. All the States have the powers which we are seeking and which draw such a great terror in the minds of the Opposition. I repeat that the States already have these powers and yet apparently they are regarded as being horrible if the Commonwealth wants to have them and use them. It is the Australian Government which has the responsibility in the economic sphere. If only the States would co-operate with the Commonwealth in the lands commissions which the Minister has in mind we could achieve what we want. Even in the States which are controlled by a Labor government we find that the hostile Upper Houses are putting qualifications on the Bills passing through the State parliaments and which are designed to organise the supply of land in the way in which we believe it ought to be organised and are making the legislation very difficult to administer. It would be a tremendous improvement for the people of this country if only the Commonwealth had these powers and was able to do something with them.

When it comes to the income power alone, we all agree that industrial disharmony is causing wastages and indeed is one of the causes of inflation. It is terribly important to increase the supply of goods if we are to do something about the supply-demand equation. One of the reasons for the disharmony is that the men and women of the work force are not catching up with prices. We all, I believe, wish to legislate for periodic cost of living adjustments. This is another thing that will be worth while. I do not wish to draw attention only to the arguments put forward by this side of the House. I draw attention once again to these 16 economists I mentioned. I draw attention to the leading article of the 'Australian' on 21 November. I am glad that we have had this opportunity in this place to put these arguments.


Order! The honourable member's time has expired. The discussion is concluded.

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