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Tuesday, 16 April 1985
Page: 1035


Senator McKIERNAN —I ask the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce whether there are any new figures on investment in industry. If so, can the Minister inform the Senate what the figures reveal?


Senator BUTTON —I am frequently asked these questions by concerned senators who are interested in the question of the performance of the Australian economy. I congratulate Senator McKiernan and Senator Maguire on being senators who have shown a consistent interest in this matter. The latest figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on new fixed capital expenditure confirm the strength in business confidence and willingness to invest. Seasonally adjusted new fixed capital expenditure rose by 4.6 per cent in real terms in the December quarter to be 10.2 per cent above the levels recorded in the December quarter of 1983. Real investment in new buildings and structures in the December quarter of 1984 was 16.2 per cent above the level recorded one year earlier. Investment in manufacturing rose 12.1 per cent in current prices seasonally adjusted for the December quarter 1984 on the December quarter 1983.

The figures reveal that there are good prospects for strong growth for 1984-85 in excess of the Budget forecast of 5 per cent. Put alongside other indicators such as the growth in employment, 90,000 jobs having been created since the start of the current financial year, consumer spending or retail sales were up by 3.2 per cent in the last quarter. Housing activities also remained at a high level, and it is clear that economic growth to date has been strong and that a firm basis exists for continued growth. I will continue on a monthly basis, as the recovery proceeds, to advise concerned senators about these figures.