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Tuesday, 10 September 1985
Page: 322

Senator ROBERTSON —My question is directed to the Leader of the Government. I refer the Minister to the need for sustained investment in Australia's manufacturing industry if the task of industry revitalisation and restructuring is to be successfully achieved. What is the latest outlook for manufacturing investment and how does it compare with the economy as a whole?

Senator BUTTON —Senator Robertson is astute, as usual, in asking a question about a very important matter to which I answer that manufacturing industry investment was certainly shaky in the early part of the economic recovery but there is now cause for a more optimistic outlook. Total new fixed capital expenditure in real terms was around 4 per cent in 1984-85-a marked pick up from recent years-and is estimated to be a little higher this financial year. Manufacturing, in particular, has had a marked rise in investment and for the June quarter 1985 over the June quarter 1984 manufacturing investment rose by 23 per cent. Intentions over the coming year seem to indicate a better figure than that, so the recovery is definitely beginning to filter into manufacturing investment in a positive way. Taken with recent encouraging figures on manufacturing production and productivity, there is room, as I said, for cautious optimism. Naturally, much depends on the state of the economy generally.

I think the Government can say, again with a cautious degree of pride and achievement, that the growth rates which have been sustained since this Government was elected to office and which will continue in the forthcoming year, give cause for optimism. There is cause for optimism in the investment figures which I suggest will be fully realised.