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Friday, 19 April 1985
Page: 1541

Mr CONQUEST(4.04) —Earlier this week the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) delivered to this House statistics cleverly and selectively designed to suggest that Queensland's economy was at a dangerous ebb. Those figures were misleading, especially when one compares the statistical evidence over a more realistic period. There is no doubt that over a more relevant five-year period Queensland has been the fastest growing State in Australia. While 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 and port facilities. The major infrastructure associated with such work lifted Queensland's economy to a point where on all key indicators it was performing better than the national average. This is shown in the following figures, all of which relate to average annual growth rates for the five-year period from 30 June 1979 to 30 June 1984: Queensland's population grew at a rate of 2.3 per cent compared with a national average of 1.4 per cent; Queensland's labour force grew at a rate of 3.4 per cent, compared with a national average of 2 per cent; employment in Queensland grew at a rate of 2.8 per cent compared with a national average of 1.4 per cent; new fixed capital expenditure by private enterprises grew by 16 per cent in Queensland compared with a national average of 11.6 per cent, which was a four-year period only; the value of new buildings approved grew by 16.9 per cent in Queensland compared with a national average of 12.5 per cent; motor vehicle registrations grew by 5.3 per cent in Queensland compared with a national average of 3.7 per cent; and retail sales grew by 12 per cent in Queensland compared with a national average of 10.8 per cent.

While Queensland's growth over the last five years has been spectacular, the current economic situation in Queensland reflects unfavourable national and international factors. This also has to be coupled with the completion of the expansion of Queensland's mineral developments. Despite the temporary problems we are currently facing, the underlying economic and financial strength of Queensland provides a sound basis for steady growth in the longer term. These growth prospects are enhanced by the Queensland Government's positive policy of encouraging economic development through expansion of the private sector. The current economic situation in Queensland is influenced by two main factors-the completion of the expansion phase of Queensland's massive coal resources, and the world economic situation, especially with regard to sugar and base metals. The effect of the completion of mining and port facilities was anticipated. However, the simultaneous problems in the world sugar market and low world prices for base metals, particularly copper, compounded the effect on Queensland's economic growth. Long term benefits are now being achieved through increased revenues and job opportunities associated with the operational phase. However, it was always accepted that the level of economic expansion would, inevitably, return more to the Australian average, although on a considerably improved base.

It is in this context that Queensland's current level of economic performance must be assessed. The key point is that while many of our current economic indicators are below their previous high levels, they are still above the national average. They are above the contribution to Australia's performance that could be expected on the basis of population share. Compared with our population share of 16.1 per cent, the latest figures show that Queensland contributes 17.4 per cent of new fixed capital expenditure by private enterprises; 24.5 per cent of housing completions and 23 per cent of all building completions in Australia; and 23.7 per cent of Australia's exports. These are positive indicators of the State's growth and potential.

One of the sources of major growth in the economy of Queensland, and Australia, in the future will continue to be our vast mineral resources. These include about 50 per cent of Australia's proven recoverable reserves of coal, bauxite, silver, lead and zinc. Recent studies of our international competitiveness in coal and aluminium confirm that our substantial cost advantages will ensure a prominent position in international markets as demand expands.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.