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Wednesday, 13 November 1985
Page: 2071

Senator CROWLEY —I ask the Minister for Finance whether he has seen the editorial in the Australian of yesterday, 12 November, referring to the South Australian election, which states:

The State is leading the national economic recovery, and of the three manufacturing States it is best insulated against any short-term downturns. Figures released a few months ago by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed South Australia heading the list of forecast new capital spending by the private sector with an expected increase of 43 per cent to $1,251 million next financial year. Total unemployment is down, and the housing and construction industries are enjoying boom conditions.

In the light of the misleading matter of public importance introduced into this place by Liberal Senator Hill on Monday, can the Minister further elaborate on the economic indicators relevant to the South Australian recovery, particularly private sector investment, so that the Liberal Opposition can be properly and accurately informed on this issue?

Senator WALSH —I did see the Australian editorial. I am not able to be any more definitive on the private investment performance of South Australia than that editorial was. That reported, as Senator Crowley said, that South Australia headed all of the States in the forecast of new capital spending by the private sector, with an expected increase of 43 per cent to a massive $1 1/4 billion next financial year. That is not really surprising, given the other indicators of economic activity in South Australia. I refer in particular to two. The number of building commencements over the period in which the Bannon Government has been in office-the commencement of which roughly coincided with the period when the economy began to go into its deepest recession for 50 years, since the 1930s, under the stewardship of the present Federal Liberal leader, Mr Howard-has increased by a massive 70 per cent and that, of course, would be a major component in the private capital investment figure. Over the same period motor vehicle registrations have increased by 14 per cent, and the motor vehicle industry still remains quite significant in the South Australian economy.

Although South Australia has not been the leading performer in every economic indicator, it has certainly been the leading performer of all the States in a number of very important economic indicators, and the overall improvement in the South Australian economy during the last three years has been quite spectacular. South Australia has made more than its proportionate contribution to the national economic recovery over the same period.