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Australia hails business confidence

SYDNEY, June  9 – Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Tuesday that a strong upturn in business confidence during May was evidence the government\’s economic stimulus packages were working.

A monthly National Australia Bank survey showed business conditions rose 12 points to minus two last month, its best reading in more than a year.

"That\’s a strong indication that we\’ve made some progress on our strategy of nation-building for recovery and that the government\’s overall investment in the economy is having an effect," Rudd told Sky News.

Rudd\’s centre-left Labor government has spent more than 50 billion dollars (41 billion US) on two stimulus packages since late 2008 in a bid to kickstart the economy and cushion it from the global recession.

It followed up in last month\’s budget with 22 billion dollars on infrastructure spending, which is yet to feed into the economy.

Rudd said Australia, which has so far avoided a technical recession despite the global slump, was the fastest growing of the world\’s top 30 advanced economies.

"The government\’s stimulus strategy … is all part of a strategy for the government to step in and fill the gap in an economy where the private sector has been in retreat because of the global recession," he said.

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