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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2882

Senator MAGUIRE —Does the Minister representing the Treasurer have information on the latest index of consumer confidence published by the Melbourne University Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research and the Morgan market research organisation? If so, does the index show an upturn in consumer confidence in October? What can the turnaround in the index of consumer sentiment be attributed to?

Senator Grimes —Good government.

Senator WALSH —Good government, as Senator Grimes says, is the short answer to the last part of the question. I am familiar with the figures outlined in that survey, which show that the index of consumer confidence rose by 11 points to 90 points in round figures. So, on a scale of 90, an increase of 11 points, of course, is a very large increase and a marked improvement-which is acknowledged-over that which had prevailed for most of the year. The very big upturn in consumer confidence was attributed principally to the stability of the Australian dollar over the last month or two months. Previously, the apparent instability of the Australian dollar was a cause of consumer pessimism, whether or not it ought to have been. That is something which, I presume, Liberal Party research has also demonstrated. It accounts for its continuous attempts to sabotage the Australian economy by undermining the currency. Ever since February 1983 the Opposition, on an almost continuous basis, has been dedicated to establishing a run on the dollar, and it continues to do so. Its efforts, however, have failed. The dollar has shown itself to be very stable in the last six weeks. It has not varied more than one or two percentage points, and has shown a slight upward drift during that period. When people were asked how they felt about their personal finances, the researchers said that optimists outweighed pessimists. They concluded:

Clearly, the renewed recognition of the coming personal tax cuts has had a strong effect here.

The tax cuts, of course, could not have been responsibly delivered had the greater part of the tax reform package not passed the Senate in spite of the destructive, or unsuccessfully destructive, efforts of the Opposition. So all of those things which are seen as good by consumers are developments which have happened in spite of the efforts of the Opposition. Fewer people thought that now was a bad time to buy minor consumer items. The researchers concluded that there was some justification for optimism on consumer sentiment and spending.