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Thursday, 12 September 1985
Page: 503

Senator PARER —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Finance. Notwithstanding the response he gave to Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle's question, I refer to the prediction in the survey by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research that, contrary to the Budget forecast of a reduced current account deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product, the deficit is likely to increase from 4.9 to 5.5 per cent of gross domestic product. Does the Minister agree that while yesterday's August balance of payments figures show improvement on the disastrous July result, they still indicate that in seasonally adjusted terms imports rose by 3 per cent? Does he further agree that if this trend continues the Institute's prediction of the current account deficit is likely to be realised?

Senator BUTTON —I am not in the business of economic forecasting. I would not be here if I were; I would be out making a quid in the private sector. Of course the current account deficit is a matter of enormous concern to this Government; it ought to be to all Australians. I am not in a position to interpret yesterday's figures in terms of their trend effect. I will obtain an answer from the Treasurer and provide it to Senator Parer as soon as possible.