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Wednesday, 20 March 1985
Page: 484

Senator FOREMAN —I refer the Minister representing the Treasurer to the latest employment figures released last week. In view of the strong rise in employment since the same time last year, does the Minister believe that the Government's objective in respect of employment generation is being achieved?

Senator WALSH —The expectations are certainly on target, or running ahead of target. In the election campaign of early 1983 the then Opposition Labor Party stated a three-year target of 500,000 new jobs. We are just two-thirds of the way through that three-year period and 360,000 new jobs have been created since April 1983. So the answer is yes, the employment target set at that time is being met. Indeed, it is being slightly overmet at this stage. Quarterly employment growth, that is for the last quarter, was running at a very high 48,000, almost 50,000, which was more than double the rate in the preceding three-month period. The annual rate of employment increase is now running at 3.3 per cent and unemployment in the most recent months fell by 0.2 percentage points in spite of an increase in the labour force participation rate. That contrasts markedly and vary favourably with the seven years during which the previous Government was in office, which, of course, encompassed the Stone Age, during which only 340,000 new jobs were created in total. Even more dramatically, it contrasts with the last year of the discredited Fraser Government, when employment actually fell by 186,000. The last year of the Fraser Government equalled an absolute fall in employment of 180,000. The first two years of the present Government equals an absolute increase of 360,000.