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Thursday, 27 May 1993
Page: 1473

Senator CHILDS —As Minister representing the Treasurer, could Senator McMullan confirm for the Senate the release of the Development Allowance Authority's quarterly report?

Senator McMULLAN —I thank Senator Childs for his question. We do have to make some special arrangements to get questions asked about good news, because those opposite fasten like a vampire bat to one's neck if there is any bad news—or they try to—but there is a deathly hush if there is any good news about. For example, we have not actually heard many questions about Cambodia in this session. When things go well those opposite go silent, except for Senator Macdonald who cannot tell the difference. He still thinks those opposite won the election.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I do not think the question was about Cambodia.

Senator McMULLAN —No, it was about good news, which is that to which I was referring. I can confirm that the Treasurer has today released the Development Allowance Authority's report for the March quarter of 1993. This authority was established in the One Nation initiative to provide a tax benefit of an additional deduction of 10 per cent for eligible projects with a capital cost of $50 million or more. The report as released provides details of applications received and those registered by the authority as at 31 March 1993. The report confirms that the authority has received applications for approximately 500 projects involving capital expenditure in the period to 30 June 2002 of well in excess of $100 billion. Of this, expected investment in plant and equipment constitutes some $75 billion. The investment expenditure peaks in 1995-96 but remains strong through the remainder of the 1990s.

  This is welcome evidence of the attitude of major private investors to the economic prospects in Australia and in the current medium term economic policy settings. It provides a bit of a contrast to the doom and gloom currently being peddled. Every time any bad figure appears, as I have said, people leap on it with glee—that is, some people—and enjoy taking it out of context. When the last lot of investment figures came out, those opposite took them as gospel; and when the good ones three months before came out, they were as silent as the grave. That is always the case. Those opposite talk with enthusiasm about bad news and they would not know good news if they fell over it. But the Australian people know good news: they know that those opposite lost the election.

  I note also that the Opposition has shown less interest in today's company profit figures. Those opposite leapt up about yesterday's figures but not about today's. One would think today's figures must contain good news, and one would be right.

Senator Collins —Tell us.

Senator McMULLAN —They showed an increase of 11 per cent in the March quarter in company profits for companies with more than 30 employees. This is the seventh release in a row about which we have not had a question, because it is the seventh release in a row that has been positive.

Senator Short —We had one yesterday on the investment figures.

Senator McMULLAN —Yes, I know, and this puts them into context and Senator Short is as silent as the grave about it. He does not want to know about the good news. Yesterday, he asked about the bad news; but today, on the good news, where was he? He was absent without leave. That is where Senator Short was. When there was good news he shied away—

Senator Kemp —Mr President, I raise a point of order. We know this is one of the weakest front benches we have seen in this Parliament, but this is truly a pathetic effort from this Minister. He was asked to comment on a report. He is now indulging in silly, childish abuse of the Opposition. I ask you to bring him to order.

The PRESIDENT —Order! There is no point of order, but there have been too many interjections and Ministers should not reply to interjections.

Senator McMULLAN —I will reply briefly to the point of order. It is a bit of fun getting one from someone who cannot get on his front bench. The Development Allowance Authority report and today's company profit results do provide encouraging evidence that we are on the right track.

Senator Vanstone —Mr President, I take a point of order. I know this is the last day of the sittings; nonetheless, you explicitly responded to the point of order that was raised and your last comment was to the Minister when you said, `but the Minister should not respond to interjections'. Without taking as much as a complete breath, the Minister got up and responded to an interjection, which is the equivalent of just throwing mud in your face. I do not know why you put up with it. I just do not know why you put up with it.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I remind all senators that interjections are unruly. Naturally, they occur and, again, I ask Ministers to try not to respond to them.