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Friday, 28 November 1986
Page: 3013

Senator COATES —I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer a question about this week's national accounts figures which indicate an increase in Australian imports, in real, seasonally adjusted terms, between the June quarter and the September quarter. Can the Minister indicate whether this is a matter of concern?

Senator WALSH —The national accounts, which I think were released on Wednesday, showed that total imports of goods and services in seasonally adjusted real terms had increased by 0.7 per cent between the June and September quarters. However, that increase was the result of a surge in what the Commonwealth Statistician defines as exogenous imports, which in this case principally were civilian aircraft-a point which a close reading of the bulletin concerned made quite clear. According to the September quarter balance of payments figures, total exogenous imports in seasonally adjusted real terms increased by a massive 48.2 per cent between June and September. When those exogenous imports are adjusted out of the figures for the two quarters, we find that in fact imports in the September quarter fell by 3 1/2 per cent, in seasonally adjusted real terms, on the previous quarter. Civil aircraft imports are expected to be at an even higher level in the December quarter but there will be a reduction in aircraft imports in the second half of this financial year, falling away to almost nothing, on present expectations, in the next financial year. The figures for aircraft imports were spelt out in a supplement to the September `Treasury Round-up of Economic Statistics'. Finally, when assessing the response of imports and exports to the increased competitiveness of Australian industry, brought about by the present Government, it is necessary to adjust the raw figures for the effects of one off, or as the Statistician defines them `exogenous', items to which I have referred.