Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Merchandise trade slump.

Download WordDownload Word





The Hon Simon Crean MP

Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Treasurer



19 November 1998





Today’s ABS merchandise trade data puts the lie to the Treasurer’s claim that Australia has escaped the international economic downturn unscathed.


Merchandise exports fell by 0.2% in the September quarter, while imports rose by 8.8%. leaving a $2.8 billion deficit for the quarter — the worst result in at least a decade.


This constitutes a $2.1 billion deterioration in a single quarter and comes on the tail of the Prime Minister’s failure at APEC.


In just three months the deficit has almost reached the total for all of 1997-98!


This was the point of the IMF’ s warning earlier this week about the unbalanced nature of the mix of domestic and foreign demand compared to past years.


One thing is certain about these figures. We won’t be seeing an impromptu press conference from the Treasurer today.


That is a pity, because it would be interesting to hear his answer to the following questions:


Is this what the government describes as fireproofed’?


Didn‘t you say the impact of the Asian downturn would be “barely measurable”?


What happened to the “cold anger” you felt over Australia ‘s current account deficit when you were in Opposition?



It’s time Mr Costello ended his obsession with introducing a new, unfair, job-destroying tax.


It’s time he stopped preening himself every time an international agency gives him a pat on the head.


Today’s data should sound as a very loud wake-up call for a government that has all too quickly slipped into complacency.



Further information:  Phillip Tardiff  (02) 6277 4045(w), 0419 497 103