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Monday, 13 May 1985
Page: 1789

Senator PRIMMER —Has the Minister representing the Prime Minister seen the results of a recent Australian Chamber of Commerce-National Australia Bank survey? Do the results of the survey indicate the continuing strength of the recovery?

Senator BUTTON —The results of the recent Australian Chamber of Commerce-National Australia Bank survey of the tertiary sector indicate that the economic recovery is still very much on course. The figures which are revealed in this survey will be encouraging to all honourable senators who are concerned about the well-being of the Australian economy. The survey shows that 49 per cent of businesses expect to increase their investment over the next 12 months, that 30 per cent of respondents indicate that they will increase their level of employment over the next 12 months and that 12 per cent expect strong increases in investment. Only 15 per cent of firms now expect a decline in capital expenditure over the next 12 months, compared with 17 per cent in the December quarter last year and 18 per cent in the September quarter last year. Some 74 per cent of those surveyed expect trading conditions to be good or satisfactory.

The overall results of the survey are very heartening despite the fact that the survey shows that business expects some cost pressures arising from the depreciation and the national wage rise, although 21 per cent of businesses expect a large or very large effect while 79 per cent expect moderate, little or no effect from the wage rise.

The major point which I sadly make in relation to the survey, which was conducted in all States, is the relatively poor performance of the State of Queensland. Alone amongst all the States, in Queensland firms recorded very poor prospects; 71 per cent of Queensland firms predict poor profitability in the June quarter. That figure contrasts with 74 per cent of firms nationally which expect good profitability prospects.

Senator Peter Rae —They were anticipating a continuation of the blockade, I suppose.

Senator BUTTON —No. That is more than double the national result. This survey has been conducted over a period. Only 48 per cent of Queensland businesses expect trading conditions to be good or satisfactory, compared with a figure of 74 per cent nationally. Once again it is a fact that Queensland is lagging behind the rest of Australia. This steadily declining economic performance is no surprise. It has not been related to the last three months; it has been going on for the last twelve.