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Tuesday, 17 September 1985
Page: 619

Senator JONES —My question is directed to the Minister for Finance. I ask: Has the Minister's attention been drawn to the results of a survey commissioned by the New South Wales Opposition Leader, Mr Greiner, into the comparative economic performances of the States? Do the results show that Queensland is the worst performing State in most areas? In view of the statistics so kindly collated by Mr Greiner, can the Minister provide the Senate with details of how badly Queensland, under the Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen Government, is slowing down the otherwise fast Australian recovery rate being brought about by the policies of the Hawke Australian Labor Party Federal Government?

Senator WALSH —I am aware of the report to which Senator Jones refers. Evidently the New South Wales Opposition Leader does not listen to Question Time, does not listen to the questions relevant to this matter that are asked by Senator Jones, and does not read the excellent statistical analyses that have been sent around from time to time by Senator Maguire or the answers to questions in the Senate. Mr Greiner was under the very false impression that if he did a comparative economic statistical study of Queensland and New South Wales he would discover that the New South Wales economy looked very sick and Queensland looked quite healthy. However, what emerged from the study was quite the opposite. Mr Greiner has fallen on his face.

I will give just a few of the details regarding the comparisons between Queensland and the rest of Australia. The major facts are that Queensland has the highest rate of unemployment of any State. It has the largest number of working days lost per thousand employees through industrial disputes and, in that respect, it has almost double the national average of working days lost. It has the smallest growth in new dwelling comments for the 12 months ended March 1985-an improvement in Queensland of only one half of one per cent. In the rest of Australia the average was almost 14 per cent. Queensland has the second slowest rate of inflation decline, beaten in that respect only by the other non-Labor State of Tasmania. In the March quarter of 1985 fixed private capital investment in Queensland declined by 3.4 per cent while in the rest of Australia it increased by 11.1 per cent.

Perhaps most importantly of all, in the financial year 1983-84, which is the latest year for which statistics are available, there was a 24 per cent increase in the number of bankruptcies in Queensland when the number of bankruptcies in Australia on average fell by almost 5 per cent. I have not even gone into the enormous public debt that has been accumulated by the Queensland Government or the deficits on its income as against its expenditure which it has been running up in recent years, let alone its single parent birth rate which Senator Grimes mentioned which is by far the highest in Australia, along with its unemployment rate, its inflation rate and a few other things like that. In short, what emerges from any examination of leading economic indices is that the Queenland economy is the sick economy of Australia. Queensland is the sick State. It is dragging down the national average and it is dragging down the rest of the country.