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Time for some positive action by Mr Rudd on the economy.

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The Hon Peter Dutton MP Shadow Minister for Finance, Competition Policy and Deregulation

“Today’s economic surveys and retail spending and housing figures are a vote of no confidence in the economic mismanagement of the Rudd Labor Government” said Peter Dutton, Shadow Minister for Finance, Competition Policy and Deregulation, earlier today.

“The surveys (see Appendix 1) show that business and consumers are, overall, not optimistic about the future.

“Consumers are worried about the rising cost of living, especially following the increase in prices for petrol and groceries, which Mr Rudd promised before the election to halt.

“There has also been little improvement in fundamental business conditions and confidence in August. And business conditions for all sectors, other than the mining sector, continued to fall.

“We have also seen the release of the Retail Trade Trends by the ABS, which show that retail trade increased by 0.1 per cent in July. However the ABS has had its budget slashed, and some economists have already downplayed the result as there has been a reduction in sample size for the survey of 59 per cent, which reduces the precision of the results.

“And the housing market continues to soften. The number of owner-occupied home loans fell again in July, declining by a seasonally-adjusted 0.2 per cent to a four-year low.

“It is time for the Rudd Labor Government to abandon their hollow rhetoric on the economy and to get on with the job. They are dithering behind a veil of spin and their policies lack any real substance.

“The economy is still in pretty good shape, but people are generally worried

about the direction that the economy will take under this Government.

“Time for less bureaucratic spin Mr Rudd.”

Appendix 1: Business and Consumer Confidence Surveys

The National Australia Bank’s Monthly Business Survey shows that business conditions rose 2 points to an index of -3 in August, still 23 points lower that the recent peak in October. Business confidence rose 2 points to an index of -7 in August.

However, in trend terms both series continue to deteriorate. The marginal improvement in confidence was very narrowly based. Confidence in all sectors other

than retail (which itself improved on very poor readings) fell. Capacity utilisation remained unchanged at 81.6%, around the lowest reading for three years.

The latest Dun and Bradstreet National Business Expectations Survey for the December 2008 quarter shows that sales and profits growth expectations continue to fall, down 42 and 41 points respectively from the highs of the December quarter 2007. And employment growth expectations are at the lowest point since June 1991.

D&B’s actual results for the June quarter shows that growth in sales, profits, employment and capital investment are at levels not seen since the early 1990s, during Labor’s “recession we had to have.”

Finally, the September Sensis Consumer Report found that a net balance of only 32 per cent of Australians are confident about their financial prospects for the year ahead, bringing confidence to its lowest level since the survey began in May 2004. This is a fall of 29 percentage points since the Rudd government took office.

Tellingly, 79 per cent of Australians believe they are no better off than they were a year ago, before the Rudd government took office.