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Tuesday, 7 June 1994
Page: 1374

Senator GIBSON —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. The ANZ Bank's job advertisement series for May shows a continuation of the decline in employment growth for the seventh successive month, suggesting that the best of the jobs recovery has passed. Why has the recovery in employment growth lasted only six months? Are Australia's nearly one million unemployed being left out in this `jobless recovery'? Does this new data simply reinforce the fact that the government's employment growth targets for 1993-94 and 1994-95 are exaggerated and can never be met under existing economic and budget strategies?

Senator COOK —Mr President—

Senator Schacht —You read the graph the wrong way up.

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Schacht, Senator Cook is answering this question.

Senator COOK —That is all right. I am sure that Senator Schacht's answer is very illuminating as well, Mr President. Let me turn to the question. Employment has grown very rapidly in the last year, with 235,000 jobs being created in seasonally adjusted terms since April 1993. In part, the strength of the employment growth reflected a catch up following the strong growth in GDP. Accordingly, it is not surprising that the growth in vacancies and employment has slowed recently. Strong employment growth can be expected to resume in the coming months. In line with strong increases in GDP, sustained economic activity will support long-term growth.

Senator Kemp —Show some interest in the answer. Don't just read it.

Senator COOK —I am telling Senator Kemp the answer. He may not be interested but I am sure his colleague Senator Gibson is. While the ANZ Bank has reported that the rate of growth in its jobs advertisements series is slowing, it suggested in the press release attached to it that employment looks set to maintain moderate growth rates in coming quarters. We did not hear that from Senator Gibson in his question but he should get it right. I repeat that what the ANZ said in its press release was that employment looks set to maintain moderate growth rates in the coming quarters. That does not feed Senator Gibson's doom scene scenario that he has just given the Senate.

  Employment grew strongly, as I have said, in late 1993 but only after a strong pick-up in economic activity in early 1993. Consistent with this catch-up pattern, employment growth had been expected to moderate in early 1994, despite strong growth in GDP. Given the very strong increases in economic activity in the December and March quarters of 1993-94, the medium term outlook for employment is for further strong growth. Employment growth will be sustained over 1994-95 by further increases in capacity and economic activity and a low inflationary environment.

  In other words, what I am saying, as can be seen from looking at the March quarter accounts, is that we have strong economic growth in the economy; we have low inflation in the economy; we virtually have as well an end to industrial disputation in the economy. On the Business Council's latest survey result, which was referred to by Senator Evans earlier in question time today, there has been a reinforcement of what the government has put forward in its budget for this year on expected investment uptakes. We have everything set for strong economic growth which, as the ANZ survey itself said in its qualifying note, will pull employment growth along with it as well.