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Friday, 29 November 1985
Page: 2603

Senator JONES —I ask the Minister for Finance: Is it a fact that Queensland had the highest proportion of business bankruptcies in the financial year ended June 1985? Could the Minister give details of what industries have been affected by this increase in bankruptcies? How does this proportion of business bankruptcies compare with other States? Has the trend continued or has the decline been halted?

Senator WALSH —My attention has been drawn to the extraordinarily high level of business bankruptcies in Queensland. I have here some figures for the year ended June 1984, which show that there were some 577 bankruptcies in Queensland, which is the highest number of any State in absolute terms. In relative terms it is about two and a half times the rate in New South Wales, about double the rate in Victoria, and so on. Indeed, Queensland contributed well over 20 per cent of the total number of business bankruptcies in Australia. The building and construction industry in Queensland had some 143 bankruptcies, compared with 68 in New South Wales and 85 in Victoria, in spite of the very much larger populations in those States.

The most recently available figures are those for 1984, but I am informally advised that the situation has not changed. Indeed, one would not expect it to change because the Queensland economy has been in a very sad and sorry condition for a number of years. There was a temporary period during the late 1970s and early 1980s when, because of the fortuitous or extraneous effect of the so-called resources boom and heavy investment in mining in Queensland-which is a function of the natural resource endowment of the State, rather than its political regime-the Queensland economy was relatively healthy compared with the rest of Australia, although wage levels tended to be somewhat lower in Queensland over the long term. Since that extraneous or fortuitous influence has passed by and the health of the Queensland economy is more closely related to the political regime of the State, it has become perfectly clear that Queensland has by far the most dismal economic performance of any State and it is dragging down the national average of the rest of Australia. That is shown up very clearly in the bankruptcy figures, as it is in so many other areas.