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Wednesday, 17 April 1985
Page: 1184


Senator PETER RAE(7.00) —I understood that some information was to be provided to the Senate. I would like to speak briefly and, if the information does not arrive in time, I shall seek to raise the matter further at a later time.


Senator Ryan —I am expecting the information.


Senator PETER RAE —I have an indication from the Minister for Education that she is expecting the information. At Question Time today and on other occasions the Minister for Finance (Senator Walsh), in giving certain statistics on Queensland, has indicated that he believes Queensland is dragging its feet, as it were, with regard to the economic recovery which he claims is taking place in Australia. Today the Minister drew attention in particular to retail sales and suggested that the figures for Queensland indicated that that State, under its present Government, was dragging its feet behind the efforts of the other States of Australia. It seems that the economic commentator for the Courier-Mail Business Extra would not agree with the Minister. I quote from the edition of Business Extra for 17 April, which refers to the damaging February plunge in retail sales generally:

This was not quite the growth record, after allowing for inflation, that supports forecasts of strong growth in consumption spending and thus stimulation for the economy.

Inevitably, the outcome politically was seen as damaging for the Federal Government and economic prospects, but some economists said that sales still should be seen as showing significant growth over the longer-term despite a 7.3 per cent fall . . . from January to February.

Queensland seemed to bear out these claims more than the rest of the country.

Its total sales, hit by electricity disruptions, dipped by 12.8 per cent from the buoyant January level but still were--

this is the part I wish to emphasise-

7.5 per cent higher than in February last year while on a quarterly basis Queensland sales still were 9.3 per cent higher than in the three months to February, 1984.

In short, despite the power problems, Queensland still is ahead of the national average for the quarter.

In other words, what the Minister for Finance said is the total reverse of the facts. It makes all the more important my seeking under standing order 364 the tabling of the documents from which the Minister quoted during Question Time today. I understand that the Minister for Education (Senator Ryan) now has those documents available. I hope that they will be tabled so that I may make some further comments.