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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2879


Senator NEWMAN —I ask the Leader of the Government a question. Is it a fact, as claimed by Rydges business magazine, that since May 1983 671,000 jobs have been created? Is it also a fact that the government sector absorbed 205,000 or approximately one-third of that number? Is the Government intending to absorb into the public sector the unemployed from the motor vehicle and textile and footwear industries who are losing or will lose their jobs as a direct result of Government action?


Senator BUTTON —I think the figure of 671,000 jobs which have been created since this Government came to office is approximately correct. I was asked whether 205,000 of those jobs are in the public sector. I doubt that very much. I am only an amateur arithmetician but my recollection is that throughout last year in excess of 80 per cent of jobs-I think that was the pattern largely throughout-were in the private sector. I will certainly undertake to check those figures and provide any additional information which I can on that matter.

I was then asked whether the people who are unemployed as a result of the Government's motor vehicle plan and the intentions which the Government might have in respect of the textile, clothing and footwear industries would be absorbed by the public sector. I would think that very unlikely. The Government, as Senator Newman would know if she read the Budget Papers, is committed to constraining the size of the public sector so I think it is most unlikely that those people would be absorbed into that sector.

There is an understanding, which is perhaps larger than Senator Newman's understanding, that in a dynamic economy such as this some sectors will decline and others will grow. It is also widely recognised throughout the developed world that sectors of industry such as the motor vehicle industry and the textile, clothing and footwear industries are destined to have declines in employment.

When I announced the car plan in the Senate and on many occasions publicly I said that many fewer people will be employed in the motor vehicle industry in 1992 than are employed now. The trade unions accept it and anybody who knows anything about the matter accepts it except, apparently, Senator Newman. Certainly, there will be declines in employment in the textile, clothing and footwear industries. If they are not brought about by government policy, and they may be to some extent, they will undoubtedly be brought about by changes in technology.

The Europeans talk about bringing the textile and clothing industries back to Europe by 1991, in competition with countries such as China. How do honourable senators think that they will do that? Do they think the Europeans will do it on the basis of vast employment? Of course not; it will be done on the basis of capital intensivity.

Those are the changes which are taking place in those industries and they will go on. Senator Newman singles out those industries. If I had time I would single out others in which the growth rates in employment have been in the order of 50 per cent.