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Tuesday, 19 November 1974
Page: 2476

Senator WOOD (QUEENSLAND) - I ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it not a fact that over many years the Australian Labor Party has been a high tariff party and that it has adopted this policy with the idea of creating work for our people? Is it not a fact that the unemployment problem began in Australia when the Labor Party reversed its established policy of high tariffs by cutting tariffs and allowing cheap goods, such as clothing from Asian countries, to come into this country, thus putting our own people out of work?

Senator MURPHY - I think the unemployment that we have had in Australia commenced well before the Labor Government got into power. We had instances of it in the great credit squeeze in the early 1960s and later. We had the development of inflation, together with rapidly increasing unemployment, well before the Labor Party got into power. There is no doubt about this. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is not caught up in party politics here, indicated that there was increasing inflation in Australia and there was no doubt that there was increasing unemployment. That is one of the reasons the Liberal-Country Party Government was put out of office at the end of 1972. The measures the Australian Government has taken have been directed towards containing inflation. One of those was the cut in tariffs. It is unfortunately true that the benefit of those cuts was not passed on to the Australian people. One reason was that the Government does not have the economic management it should have constitutionally and perhaps legislatively. What has happened- I think the honourable senator is correct to a degree- is that there has been unemployment consequential upon those tariff cuts, but the Government is recognising this and is taking remedial action.

Honourable senators are well aware of the remedial action. I think the country approves of the measures which have been announced. I do not even notice honourable senators opposite complaining about the remedial measures that have been taken. It was the Government's duty to contain inflation as far as it could and it was the Government's duty, when its policies started to produce unemployment, to take remedial actions there. I think the country will concede that this Government is honestly doing its best and will be successful if the Opposition ceases to impede it in producing the kind of result that has been achieved in New Zealand. If only we were in the position of New Zealand, without an obstructive Upper House and the Opposition that we have, I think we could all get along a lot better.

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