The Hon. AMANDA FAZIO:
My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House on the State's record infrastructure investment and the latest economic data?
The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL:
I thank the member for her interest in this matter. I warn members opposite that I have more good news today. I know how they react to good news about the economy. They bray because they want to talk down this State, and they always take the bait. As I have said many times, the number one focus of the New South Wales Government is jobs, and my top priority is supporting jobs. I am sure members are aware of our $62.9 billion investment in job-supporting infrastructure over the next four years. That is $62.9 billion supporting up to 160,000 jobs every year. That is $62.9 billion investing in building vital infrastructure for the economic growth of this State, which will keep our economy strong. This record building program has helped to cushion New South Wales and support and protect jobs from the worst of the global recession. Increasing investment in jobs supporting infrastructure is exactly the right response needed in tough economic times because it supports jobs, boosts business confidence and protects front-line services—all good news for the New South Wales economy.
I draw the attention of the House to the minutes of the last board meeting of the Reserve Bank, which record that economic growth is "stronger than had been expected earlier in the year and better than many other economies". The Reserve Bank also said that "the economy (is) continuing to expand. Business survey showed confidence at higher levels, and business conditions a little above average levels". This is all good news. The greens shoots of recovery are starting to grow. This morning at 11 o'clock we heard more good news with a leading economic indicator posting its first positive reading in nearly a year. The Westpac-Melbourne Institute leading index of national economic activity was 1.7 per cent in August. For the benefit of the House, this is the first positive reading of this index since September 2008.
I know the Opposition wants to keep talking down the economy and hates good news for the economy but this index indicates the likely pace of economic activity for the next three to nine months. As the House well knows, I am an optimist and I welcome this good news. Indeed, the chief economist of Westpac, Bill Evans—yet another who does not agree with members of the Opposition—said today, "The pace of the recovery in the growth rate of the leading index has been remarkable." The annualised growth rate has moved by minus 6.9 per cent in May to today's level of 1.7 per cent in August, an increase of 8.6 per cent overall. As Mr Evans noted, "Following the two recessions Australia experienced in the early 1980s and 1990s, the rate of recovery in the index was not as steep" as today's rate.
Just to annoy members of the Opposition a bit more, I wish to advise the House of more good news—another green shoot! New car sales in New South Wales are up 0.7 per cent over the past 12 months. That does not sound like a lot but the national average over the same period was a negative 2 per cent drop. The increase in New South Wales was a positive—more green shoots popping up in the New South Wales economy, more evidence that the strategy of the stimulus measures of the State and Federal governments were and are right and appropriate, and more evidence that Turnbull and O'Farrell's calls to pull back the stimulus would be bad for this State and nation.