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Wednesday, 27 February 1985
Page: 238

Senator MAGUIRE —Does the Minister representing the Attorney-General have any information on bankruptcy levels in Australia in 1984? If so, how do they compare with the 1983 levels? Are there any major differences in the trends in the various States?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I happen to have with me in my Attorney-General's brief some of the bankruptcy statistics. They bring very good news for nearly all Australians, except the people of Queensland who continue to suffer under the special influence of the Bjelke-Petersen Government. The figures are these: In Victoria, a drop of 22 per cent from 1,248 in 1983 to 973 in 1984; in Western Australia, a drop of 25 per cent from 816 to 613; in South Australia, the figures for which also include the Northern Territory, a drop of 16 per cent from 871 to 730; and in Tasmania a drop of 7 per cent. In New South Wales the figures are about even, although the 1984 figure is some number less-1,172 as against 1,195. But Queensland brings up the rear with a startling and very worrying increase of 27 per cent from 742 in 1983 to 938 in 1984. That is a 27 per cent increase in bankruptcies as compared with the drop of 22 per cent in Victoria, 25 per cent in Western Australia and similar figures elsewhere.

I think I should dwell on these figures for a moment for the benefit of honourable senators and particularly of listeners in my State of Victoria. These figures show beyond any doubt the vital role that is being played by the Government of Premier John Cain, in co-operation with the Hawke Government, in revitalising the business environment in the State of Victoria. The drop of 22 per cent in bankruptcies is the second successive drop in bankruptcies in Victoria. It clarifies what all the other figures show. All those living in Victoria, as Senator Missen and others will testify, know personally that the Cain Government's policies of sound economic management, of generating growth through co-operation with the private sector, and of streamlining and modernising the public sector have all paid off.

It is evident that bankruptcy hits small businesses, the self-employed, the unemployed-individuals across all economic sectors. Bankruptcy can create difficulties for families, friends, suppliers to business and purchasers of goods from the bankrupt.

A reduction in the number of bankruptcies is a very important achievement to monitor and to record. It is not an overnight wonder. It is something that can be achieved only by sound and responsible economic management of the kind that we have seen, particularly in Victoria. It is in profound contrast to the record of misery and maladministration under the previous Liberal Government in that State.