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Tuesday, 5 June 1984
Page: 2484

Senator PRIMMER —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to the disastrous unemployment situation inherited by this Government as a result of the economic policies of its predecessor. I ask the Minister: Have the Labor Government's economic policies made any impression on the unemployment situation in Australia?

Senator WALSH —Yes, this is some extremely good news. Senator Primmer asked whether as a result of the election of the Labor Government there had been any improvement in the disastrous unemployment situation which this Government had inherited from the discredited former regime. The answer is that the strong growth in employment which has been apparent for the last six to nine months has been maintained in the most recent figures. Indeed, for March the number of people in employment increased by 70,000, bringing the total increase in the number employed since the trough of April 1983 to just above 210,000. That is a remarkable increase in the level of people employed for an 11-month period and, I add, goes more than 40 per cent of the way to achieving the target which the Government had set for itself prior to the election of increasing the number of people in employment by 500,000 over a three-year period.

The number of people who are unemployed fell by less than the increase in employment. Since March 1983 the number of people unemployed has fallen by 68, 000 and the unemployment rate has gone down from 10.4 per cent to 9.5 per cent. The rate of unemployment and the number of people unemployed would have fallen by considerably more had not the participation rate risen by 0.6 per cent, two- thirds of a per cent, over that same period. That increase in the participation rate means that because there is substantial economic growth under way, people's expectations of getting a job are better than they were before and people who would not previously have registered as looking for employment have returned to the work force and either registered for employment or actually succeeded in getting a job. If that factor had been discounted from the figures, or corrected for that, the rate of unemployment would have fallen by 2 per cent over the 12- month period instead of the one per cent by which it actually did fall.

Senator Peter Baume —Mr President, I ask that the document from which the honourable senator quoted be tabled.

The PRESIDENT —Did the Minister quote from a document that he will table? The Minister has tabled the document.