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Wednesday, 16 September 1936

Senator BROWN (Queensland) . - Senator Hardy is to be commended for bringing this matter before the Senate, and I am sure that every honorable senator will strongly support him and the Government in any effort to improve the value of our statistical records and the methods of their compilation. Many trade unions do not keep complete records of their members who are unemployed. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest unions in Australia could not say how many of its members were out of work. A person belonging to that organization mav lose his employment and drift' into some other avocation, whereupon the union loses trace of him. I was a mem ber of an organization, and often recall with amusement the methods adopted by certain individuals who sought to ascertain now many of its members were unemployed. The union did not keep a record of its unemployed members, but it did its best to get work for them.

Senator Hardy - But it kept a .check of its financial members.

Senator BROWN - If a member was unfortunate enough to be unemployed, and subsequently found a job, the organization waited several months before it asked him to pay his dues.

Senator Arkins - That is an example which all unions should follow.

Senator BROWN - It would be well if other organizations could adopt such a policy, but all are not in the happy position of the one to which I have referred. I mention this to show how false some statistics regarding unemployment may be, not because of a lack of interest on the part of the organizations, but because it- is impossible for them to keep a record of every member who may become unemployed. As Senator Hardy has cogently remarked, these are days of social and economic planning, and governments are steadily moving in the direction of controlling national industries. But can any one ascertain with certainty the details of production in Australia? Have we any industrial statistics that correspond with an army's record, which shows, the number of persons of all ranks in each arm, as well as the material. Some time ago, I made investigations relative to the ability of Australia to maintain itself, but I learned that there are no complete statistics in regard to food, clothing, and shelter, for instance. Can any one say with any certainty how many suits of clothes we can produce in Australia, and the number of people engaged in the making of them? How far can we increase the production of clothing, boots, blankets, house utensils, and the like? What are the numbers of carpenters, plumbers and other artisans, and of operatives in the various factories?

Senator Arkins - There is no difficulty in ascertaining the number of politicians.

Senator BROWN - But it is difficult to discover how many of them are statesmen. It would be a statesmanlike effort on the part of the Government, however, if it improved the compilation methods adopted by the statistical bureau in order to make a complete inventory of the nation's resources. I support the request of Senator Hardy, because such information would be of great advantage to the country.

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