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Tuesday, 29 October 1974
Page: 2024

Senator CARRICK - My question which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate refers to the statement last night by the Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, that the currently rising unemployment rate and record level of inflation will not be relieved until at least the end of the second quarter of 1975. Since the Prime Minister, by his statement, has condemned an average of at least 200,000 Australians to continuous unemployment for at least 8 months and all people on fixed incomes, particularly pensioners, to a grave decline in their living standards, I ask: Will the Government give urgent attention to an immediate and substantial increase both in pensions and unemployment benefits, with at least quarterly adjustments for inflation throughout the next year? If quarterly adjustments and indexation are government policy for wage earners will the Government act now to remove its double standards which create great hardship to people in receipt of social services?

Senator MURPHY -The honourable senator must be forgetting what has happened. When the Labor Government came into power it immediately set about improving social services. Pensions have been increased from, I think, about 19 per cent of the average weekly wage to 22 per cent of that wage.

Senator Wriedt - It is 24Vi per cent.

Senator MURPHY -I am informed by Senator Wriedt that he thinks the pension rate now represents a little over 24 per cent of the average weekly wage, In any event, the Government has been increasing the real value of social services, including pensions and the unemployment benefit.

Senator Bishop - And repatriation benefits.

Senator MURPHY - And repatriation benefits. The Minister who was in charge of repatriation has told the Senate again and again what we have been doing. Senator Carrick puts himself on the side of indexation. He thinks that there should be quarterly adjustments of the pensions and the unemployment benefit. Do I understand him to be advocating that this principle should be extended throughout the community; that there should be quarterly indexation of wages to deal with the world-wide inflation? The honourable senator speaks as if inflation were a national phenonemon restricted to Australia. Even the Sunday newspapers are starting to educate the public to the fact that there is world-wide inflation, with world-wide causes, and that it is producing its effects in Australia. The Australian Government has seen to it that Australians are suffering far less than the people in other countries. I think that the people of Australia ought to be thankful that they have a compassionate Government which will look after those on social services and those in receipt of unemployment benefit, instead of the Government they had previously which repeatedly displayed its hard-heartedness to those in receipt of social services and those suffering the difficulties of unemployment. Whatever economic difficulties Australia has to go through because of the world-wide events, there is no doubt whatever that the Australian people will be better off under a Labor Government than they would be under the conservatives who care nothing for the ordinary people of Australia.

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