by Alan Thornhill
Australia’s exports are expected to fall by $50 billion in the new financial year.
This would certainly be, the biggest trade slump the nation has seen for more than 50 years.
And, most likely, it would be the biggest ever
The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, who revealed this forecast yesterday, put the blame squarely on the global economic crisis.
He said Japan had already suffered the worst contraction in its economy, since records began in 1955, with a 4 per cent fall in its output in the March quarter of this year.
Activity in other regional economies, including Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan had contracted, too, Mr Swan said.
The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said his government’s response had been “to pull out all stops,” organising “a war time like effort” to get stimulus projects up and running, to meet this challenge.
Statements from both Rudd and Swan left no room at all to doubt the Federal government’s determination to push its big spending budget through parliament.
The budget will, once again, be before the House of Representatives, when Federal parliament resumes today.
But it won’t go before the Senate this week, as this week’s Senate program is filled with Committee meetings.
Rudd said the construction phase of his government’s stimulus plan is now “well under way.”
In a five page statement, he listed road, rail, social and defence housing, school, energy efficiency and community infrastructure projects that have already started.
The Federal government is picking up the bills for these projects and State premiers and chief ministers can hardly believe their luck.
But this work won’t be cheap.
Kevin Rudd said his government would be investing $22 billion in “our nation’s infrastructure”.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
Thursday May 23
The Dow Jones Index fell 80.02 points to 15,307.60
Man, believed to be a British soldier, hacked to death in the London suburb of Woolwich, in an apparent terrorist attack
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