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Monday, 20 May 1985
Page: 2174

Senator BOSWELL(5.48) —I am glad of the opportunity to enter this debate on the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) and the Appropriation Bill (No. 4) because it allows me to put the case of the Queensland Government's record-

Senator Childs —It will not take very long, then.

Senator BOSWELL —It will; it will take quite a long time-20 minutes or so. I put the Queensland Government's record on the economy to the Senate. Far too much of the Senate's and the Government's time has been wasted on attacking the Queensland Government. Every day in this place we see dorothy dixers being set up to Senator Walsh so that he can bucket the Queensland Government. It happens time and time again, so I wish to put quite clearly on the record the exact position of the Queensland economy.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Elstob) —Order! I point out to Senator Boswell that we are debating a Federal Bill and I ask him to speak to it. It is not a State Bill.

Senator BOSWELL —I understand that. Obviously the Australian Labor Party in Queensland has given up any hope of the Queensland Labor Opposition making any dent on the Queensland Government; so the Federal Government has set itself up as a de facto Opposition to the Queensland Government. The Federal Government should be concentrating on its own economic problems-and I assure honourable senators that it has plenty. The Australian people elect a Federal government to govern them and to run the affairs of the Commonwealth Parliament, not to attack the two non-Labor States as we see continually happening here. The vitriolic bias against these two States has earned this Federal Government the complete distaste of the entire community. It is about time that those who attack Queensland considered Queensland's contribution to the Australian economy. In recent years Queensland has played an increasingly important role in the national economy, particularly in the area of mining and mineral processing, which have provided the basis for much of Australia's recent economic growth and which have significant potential for growth in the future. Queensland contributes more to Australia's principal export earnings sector-mining and agriculture-than its share of total population, which is 16.1 per cent. In the year ended 30 June 1983, Queensland's contribution to these key sectors was 21.8 per cent of the total mining output and 23 per cent--

Senator Gareth Evans —Mr Deputy President, I take a point of order. We are debating the second reading of these Appropriation Bills. It is not a first reading debate, in which it is proper for honourable senators to range at large over things according to their whims and fancies. The remarks of the honourable senator have to be related to some aspect of the appropriations of the Commonwealth and public expenditure by the Commonwealth Government. I suggest to you, Mr Acting Deputy President, that Senator Boswell's speech is now obviously wholly out of order and that you should rule accordingly.

Senator Messner —Mr Acting Deputy President, I also take a point of order. I thought that Senator Boswell was being entirely relevant because he was drawing attention to the state of employment in Queensland, which has a vital bearing on the Commonwealth appropriations, as far as the unemployment benefit and other kinds of benefits are concerned, and indeed on the state of the economy of Australia. Surely Senator Boswell is drawing attention to the very area of the Minister for Resources and Energy (Senator Gareth Evans) by referring to the trade prospects of Queensland, Queensland's place in the Australian community and to the fact that Queensland has generated considerable tax income for the Commonwealth Government.

THE ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Elstob) —Order! Senator Evans's point of order is technically correct. We have ranged far and wide in this debate. However, I ask Senator Boswell to confine his remarks as the debate, as I pointed out earlier, is a second reading debate on Federal Bills-the Appropriation Bills.

Senator BOSWELL —If Senator Evans allows me to do so, I will come to the employment that the Queensland Government is providing. I will also touch on housing and Aboriginal grants. However, I ask for the Minister's consideration to allow me to get to that part of my speech. In the year ended 30 June 1983, Queensland's contribution to these key sectors was 21.8 per cent of the total mining output. In addition, Queensland contributed 27.4 per cent of Australian exports of agricultural products and 29.3 per cent of Australian mining exports. Over the five years to 30 June 1984, Queensland was, in economic terms, the fastest growing State in Australia. Whilst several factors contributed to this growth, its main impetus was gained through the major, once-off boost to the economy through the development of new export coal mines, related rail and port facilities and an aluminium smelter. The development lifted the Queensland economy to the point where all key indicators were performing better than the national average. This is shown in a table which I seek to have incorporated in Hansard. I mention to the Minister for Resources and Energy that I have shown the five tables I wish to incorporate to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Button) and that he has given me permission to do so. I seek leave to incorporate the table in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The table read as follows-


1979-80 to 1983-841983-84

Qld Aust. Qld Aust.

Population 2.3 1.4 1.4 1.1 GSP/GDP (1) 13.2 (2) 12.2 (2) n.a. 13.1 Labour Force 3.4 2.0 3.8 2.5 Employment 2.8 1.4 4.6 3.7 New Fixed Capital Expenditure (1) 16.0 (3) 11.6 (3) -19.8 -8.7 Value of New Buildings (1) 16.9 12.5 30.7 34.9 Motor Vehicle Registrations 5.3 3.7 6.4 13.0 Retail Sales (1) 12.0 10.8 6.0 6.5

(1) Values are in current price terms

(2) Covers the four year period to 30 June, 1983

(3) Covers the four year period to 30 June, 1984

Senator BOSWELL —This table shows the average annual growth rates for key economic indicators for the five-year period from 30 June 1979 to 30 June 1984. It also shows the growth rates for 1983-84 separately. By 1983-84, there were signs of a falling off in Queensland's edge over the rest of Australia. In population, labour force and employment growth over 1983-84, Queensland's advantage was smaller than for the four-year period from 1979 to 1983, while in the other four indicators-private capital expenditure, building approvals, vehicle registrations and retail sales-Queensland fell below the Australian growth rates. Over the four years to 1983-84, new fixed capital expenditure by private enterprise, excluding agriculture, forestry, construction and community services, increased by 81 per cent in Queensland compared with an increase of only 55 per cent for Australia. The following table sets out the changes in new fixed capital expenditure for Queensland and Australia during the last four years. I seek leave to incorporate the table in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The table read as follows-


Queensland Australia

1980-81 39.2 36.9 1981-82 45.7 25.9 1982-83 11.5 -1.5 1983-84 -19.8 -8.7

Senator BOSWELL —The table shows that in 1980-81 the increase in private capital investment in Queensland was 39.2 per cent, as against Australia's average of 36.9 per cent. In 1981-82, the increase in private capital investment in Queensland was 45.7 per cent, as against the Australian average of 25.9 per cent. In 1982-83, private capital investment in Queensland increased by 11.5 per cent, as against a decrease of 1.5 per cent for Australia. In 1983-84, private capital investment in Queensland decreased by 19.8 per cent, as against a decrease of 8.7 per cent for Australia. As the table indicates, the expansion of capital expenditure was sustained for a longer period in Queensland than for the rest of Australia. In 1982-83, capital expenditure continued to increase in Queensland but declined throughout Australia as the effects of the world recession had an impact earlier in the southern States.

The main reason for the growth of capital expenditure in Queensland in 1982-83 was the continued growth in the mining sector. In contrast, investment in the manufacturing sector in Queensland declined by 30 per cent. In 1983-84, the rapid growth of investment in the mining sector in Queensland was reversed. It declined by 47 per cent. Investment in manufacturing declined by 24 per cent. However, investment continued to grow in the finance sector by 2 per cent. In other industries, including the wholesale-retail trade, transport, communications, electricity, gas and water, entertainment and personal services, it increased by 15 per cent. Even allowing for the greater decline in 1983-84, Queensland accounted for 18.5 per cent of the Australian total actual new fixed capital expenditure by private enterprise in 1983-84, compared with 15.8 per cent in 1979-80. Whilst for many indicators Queensland's current figures are below their previous boom levels-I emphasise boom levels-they indicate that Queensland is still making an above-average contribution to Australia's economic performance in these areas, as shown in the table I wish to have incorporated in Hansard. The table covers the key indicators of economic performance. All figures relate to the latest period for which statistics are available. I seek leave to incorporate the table in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The table read as follows-

Queensland as a

proportion of Indicator

Period to which figures relate


(%) Population 30 June 1984 16.1 Above average performance

Private capital investment 12 months to September 1984 17.4 Housing

- approvals 8 months to February 1985 19.0 - commencements 3 months to September 1984 18.5 - completions 3 months to September 1984 24.5 - work done 3 months to September 1984 20.5 Total building

- approvals 8 months to February 1985 18.7 - commencements 3 months to September 1984 16.6 - completions 3 months to September 1984 22.9 - work done 3 months to September 1984 19.3 Exports 8 months to February 1985 22.5 Average performance

Vehicle registrations 8 months to February 1985 16.0 Retail sales 7 months to January 1985 16.2 Below average performance

Unemployment March 1985 18.5

Senator BOSWELL —The bottom line of all this is that Queensland is pulling its own weight and is leading the way in many areas. The Federal Government's attack on the Queensland economy is in stark contrast to its silence on the Australian economy, including the huge trade deficit, high public spending, budgetary deficits, increasing public and private debts and the fluctuating value of the dollar--

Senator Childs —What about the Queensland deficit? Why don't you talk about that?

Senator BOSWELL —I say to Senator Childs, as he is so interested in it, that, if he will wait in about one minute's time I will come to the Queensland deficit. The Australian economy as a whole reflects the same structural characteristics compared with the rest of the world as Queensland does with respect to the rest of Australia. The national recovery also requires an improvement in agriculture and mining to stabilise the position. Without that improvement in the balance of payments, the national deficit will continue.

I now come to the Queensland deficit, in which Senator Childs is so interested. It may be to the benefit of honourable senators opposite if they read the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures accurately before jumping into areas they do not understand. I refer to Senator Maguire in particular. Let me make it quite clear: The Government's financial estimates for 1984-85 have not been released. A summary has been sent to the various State Treasurers and statistical personnel. It is interesting to note that honourable senators opposite should have had access to the document before the Queensland Treasurer, and more interesting to note that any senator could interpret it without the accompanying explanatory notes.

In the 1983-84 ABS publication of the Government's financial estimates, the Bureau warned that its figures underestimated the true deficit position of some States, particularly New South Wales and Victoria, and overstated the deficit in Queensland. This was because New South Wales and Victoria had made widespread use of sale and lease back arrangements in recent years for the financing of capital items and these arrangements were not included in the deficit figures. Not having access to the latest explanatory notes, it is not known whether that position has been rectified. Obviously, honourable senators opposite who believe they are authorities on the Queensland deficit do not know of such matters.

The figures from last year's Commonwealth Budget Papers showed that Queensland's level of debt for all categories, including statutory and local authority borrowing, was still lower than the average of all other States. The papers showed also that Queensland has the lowest per capita public debt and the lowest debt to the Commonwealth of any State. Attacks on the Queensland economy by people like Senator Maguire, Senator Colston and Senator Reynolds are based on ignorance and the desire to score political points and see their names in print. For back bench senators to come into this chamber with simple statistics on Queensland shows not only their ignorance but also their fear in coming to grips with the national economy. I say to Senator Maguire that the people of South Australia elect him to look after the national economy. He has some expertise in that field and I suggest that he concentrate that expertise on the national economy.

Queensland has an intensity of farmers and graziers who pay heavily through tariff protection to keep the secondary industries of Melbourne and Sydney functioning. Every Queensland farmer pays on average $16,000 a year in tariff protection. There is another extremely important issue which I must address, that is, this Government's hypocrisy in its proposed funding of the two non-Labor States and the Commonwealth's role in tax sharing payments. For a government that espouses the principle of one vote one value it certainly does not believe in one person one dollar when it comes to distributing the taxation collection throughout Australia. I refer, for instance, to housing assistance. The allocation for welfare housing to the Queensland Government on a per capita basis is only $30 as against the national per capita average of $38. If Queensland were to receive the same per capita amount 1,600 low income families would be enjoying the benefits of a Housing Commission home. This Government is denying 1,600 Queensland families the benefit of welfare homes by denying Queensland its rightful per capita allocation under the tax sharing arrangements. Aboriginal housing is another area of concern. The Aboriginal housing grant disadvantages Queensland. Queensland is under-funded by $6.5m. On the 1981 census data Queensland had 34 per cent of the total Aboriginal and Island population and yet it will receive only 24 per cent of total Commonwealth grants for that purpose. One would assume from the Australian Labor Party's policy that it would be prepared to allocate housing grants evenly amongst the Aboriginal people of Australia, yet Queensland Aboriginals are being discriminated against. They are the butt of the ALP's anti-Queensland bias.

The Australian bicentennial road development program is another area in which Queensland is discriminated against. Given the total length of declared roads in Queensland the Commonwealth allocation of $91m is $27m under on a kilometre per dollar basis. I could go on and on. Queensland will receive only 13.3 per cent of general purpose capital grants in 1984-85 although its population share of the six States is 16.6 per cent. This means that this year Queensland is being deprived of at least $21m that will be directed to other States. I would like to hear from Senator Reynolds, Senator Jones and Senator Colston-they are being very shy in coming forward-and also from Senator Maguire whose own Premier was reported in the Australian as saying that the Commonwealth Government has ripped off that State by $50m. Where is Senator Maguire? I remind him, amongst other ALP senators, that his job in the Senate is to protect the rights of his State. We do not hear very much from Government senators. They continue to bucket and attack the Queensland Government. Under the Constitution, they should be prepared to defend their State when it is being discriminated against.

Under the five programs to which I have referred Queensland will be under-funded by $127m relative to the other States. It is interesting to note that the Commonwealth Government has committed itself to supporting the America's Cup to the tune of $30m but has been very reluctant to assist the Queensland Government in staging the bicentennial Expo 88. All it could get was $3m. The list goes on and on. The Kirby report states:

We were surprised to learn that the distribution of CYSS projects is unequal.

Mr Kirby might have been surprised but I am sure that no one in Queensland was surprised to learn that Queensland has 15 per cent of the young unemployed and gets 11 per cent of the funding. To bring Queensland up to a funding level per capita similar to any other State-I wish Senator Ryan were here to listen to this-an extra $53m would be necessary for tertiary education. If Queensland received its per capita allocation almost 5,000 new tertiary education places would be made available. As honourable senators can see, the Labor Government has taken the stockwhip to Queensland because the people of Queensland had the audacity to vote for a free enterprise government. The Labor Government of this nation will make them pay for it. I say to Senator Gareth Evans, who is in the chamber, that the Queensland people are not prepared to sell their votes for a lousy few bucks.

If the Commonwealth Grants Commission recommendations were implemented in full the ensuing shortfall of $150m, coupled with the funding deficiency of $130m in the other programs, would mean a total loss to Queensland in these areas in 1984-85 of $280m-more than $110 per person in Queensland. I ask Senator Maguire how many people that $280m could put into jobs. He attacks the Queensland Government and he is vitriolic in his attack. But when it comes to something positive--

Senator Childs —He can count accurately.

Senator BOSWELL —I do not know that he can. I would like to know how many jobs Queenslanders are missing out on because they are being under-funded by $280m by this Government. They are paying the price of voting for a free enterprise government and returning a majority of non-Labor senators. This has not happened only to Queensland; it has happened also to Tasmania and the Northern Territory. The big stick is out. The Government says: 'If you do not vote for us you will get nothing'. I ask Senator Reynolds, Senator Maguire and Senator Colston to work out how many jobs Queensland is being deprived of by that under-funding of $280m. I do not expect that any of them will be prepared to answer. It is probably too difficult and it certainly would be far too embarrassing.