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Wednesday, 23 October 1974
Page: 1867

Senator LAUCKE (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - In addressing my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate I refer to the inordinate rise of 5.4 per cent in the consumer price index for the September quarter- the biggest since 1951- and to the present inflation rate of 16.5 per cent which can be projected to 23.5 per cent within a year on present inbuilt forces. Does the Minister still claim that the present deeply disturbing situation is due to international influences? Is not our present condition the direct outcome of domestic economic policies pursued by this Government? Will the Government put aside its ideological theories now proven to be impracticable and, in the urgent national interest, put into effect the realistic measures advocated this week by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Snedden, as the practical means of combating Australia's economic problems?

Senator MURPHY - As I was listening to the honourable senator's question, the answers required appeared to be yes in some cases and no in others. It is very difficult to answer the last part of the honourable senator's question because it was based on a completely erroneous premise. Do I understand the honourable senator to be putting to me that inflation is something which is peculiar to Australia and in some way, the fault of this Government- that it has somehow produced inflation on its own? Is the honourable senator unaware that inflation is raging all around the world, particularly in countries such as Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom? Economists everywhere are trying to cope with a problem which is caused by a number of factors which, upon analysis, are found not to be within the control of the Australian Government.

Inflation is occurring in industralised and nonindustrialised countries and in countries where there is high employment and in countries where there is high unemployment. It is absolutely idiotic to suggest that by some measures the Australian Government has created inflation in this country. The Australian Government is taking the best advice available and the best measures that it can to reduce the effects of inflation and to cushion the economy against the effects of the inflation which is manifesting itself elsewhere. The remedies which were put forward by the honourable senator and his Government were rejected on 2 occasions decisively by the people of Australia. I suggest that the honourable senator should co-operate with the Government and allow it to introduce measures which will enable it to manage the economy wisely, instead of continuing to engage in a process of obstruction to the Government.

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