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Business Confidence

MR WHITECROSS (5.48): Mr Speaker, I rise to support Mr Berry and to amplify - - -

Mr De Domenico: Nobody else is prepared to, mate. You are a brave man.

MR WHITECROSS: It is down to me, Mr De Domenico, and I am happy to do so because I am able to add to the figures we have heard so far this evening, with some additional figures that I am sure will help Mr De Domenico and Mrs Carnell to understand the point the Opposition is trying to make about business confidence and employment. The ANZ Bank figures that are used as a measure of business confidence show: February 1995, 476 job advertisements; March 1995, 435 job advertisements - that is down; April, 388 - down again; May, 406 - up a little bit, but still down compared to when you started.

Mr De Domenico: When did we start?

MR WHITECROSS: Let us say March, for the sake of the argument. March, 435; May, 406 - down.

Mr De Domenico: You have been sucked in to supporting nonsense. But you will learn; do not worry.

MR WHITECROSS: No. Mrs Carnell was happy when it had gone up 28. Now we are finding out that it has gone down 27. So, going up 28 was good news, according to Mrs Carnell; going down 27 is irrelevant.

Mr De Domenico: Why are you doing it to him? You need his support to be the leader, so you really should not be doing this to him.

MR WHITECROSS: That is not a very good argument, Mr De Domenico. There is more. The year-on-year figures from March 1994 to March 1995 showed that job advertisements had gone up 38.5 per cent, during the period Labor was in government. What has happened in the two months since then? The trend now is not up 38.5 per cent, but up only 8.6 per cent. What that means is that the guts have fallen out. Okay, it is still higher than last year; but we have gone from a situation where we were 38.5 per cent up on last year, when Labor left government, to a situation where we are now only 8.6 per cent up. It does not sound like a burst of business confidence to me.

The other figures I will draw to people's attention briefly are the unemployment figures. They were ticking along last year at about the 7.1 per cent mark for the first three months of the year, when Mr De Domenico says that we were in power - 7.1, 7.1, 7.1. Now the Liberals are in power, the figures are - 7.2, 7.4. That 7.4 per cent is higher than it was at any time last year.

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