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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 3867

Mr IAN ROBINSON —I refer the Prime Minister to recent statements he has made on the employment situation since the last election. I ask: Has the average period of individual unemployment risen from 36 weeks to 60 weeks? Has the average period of unemployment for people over 50 years of age risen from 59 weeks to 100 weeks? Further, has the number of people who have been unemployed for over 12 months risen by 58 per cent, from 124,000 to 196,000? Has the weekly average number of people unemployed risen by 68 per cent, from 332,000 to 559,000? Has the cost of unemployment benefit risen by 155 per cent, from $1.2m to $3.1m? In view of this appalling record, will the Prime Minister admit that the Government's employment policy has been a total failure? Will he tell the House what action he now proposes to take in order to overcome this massive financial and social cost of unemployment to the nation?

Mr HAWKE —I thank the honourable member for his question. I am reluctant, as everyone knows, to speak constantly about this Government's proud record of economic management, but honourable members opposite force me again to go to the facts. How anyone on that side of the House can raise the question of the respective records of this Government and its predecessor in the area of employment absolutely escapes any rational observer of the political scene. I remind the House again of the comparative records. Honourable members opposite should just try to get it into their skulls if they can. I have told them often enough, but I will try once again. They should try to get it. The previous Government was in office for over seven years. What was its employment achievement? Do honourable members opposite know what it was? I will tell them. In seven years it managed to create 350,000 new jobs. Have honourable members opposite got it? In seven years their Government created 350,000 new jobs. By comparison with that-remember that their Government created 350,000 new jobs in seven years-in 3 1/2 years we have created 670,000 jobs. Have honourable members opposite got it? Do they understand it? In half the time we have created twice the number of jobs. That is the comparative record.

In the process, will honourable members opposite also understand this-after about the sixth time perhaps they will understand: We have brought down the level of unemployment in this country from the double digit level that their Government imposed upon it, with an additional 250,000 thrown on to the unemployment scrap heap in its last 12 months, to just over 8 per cent. Madam Speaker, that is the record of this Government. We have delivered the promise. And what was our promise? We said that we would create 500,000 new jobs in three years. We walked that in. We easily surpassed our promise and, in doing so, established the stark contrast between the economic competence of this Government and the hopelessness of you mob.