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Thursday, 21 May 1942

Mr BLACKBURN (Bourke) .- I draw the attention of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) to the growing number of persons in this country who are becoming unemployed by reason of the Government's war policy. I am not blaming the Government for that policy, but I point out that its policy is depriving numbers of people of employment without putting them into other employment. I was interested to hear the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) say that the reports which had been presented by the various committees have been adopted by the Government. This matter has been dealt with in paragraph 11 of the second interim report of the Joint Committee on Social Security in this way -

The committee's view is that, by government policy, all people capable of working are equally at the disposition of the Government. As the. committee understands it, the policy of the Government is that every person may lie called upon to do whatever the Government thinks fit. The obligation should not be unilateral. If " A ", being unemployed, is to hold himself in readiness -to answer the Government's call, he should bo maintained while he remains so ready. He should be paid on the same principle as the soldier is paid whether lie is fighting, training or resting. He should receive from the nation reasonable maintenance. Such maintenance should be related to his domestic obligations and his family needs. The payment" of any sum to " A " should be conditional upon his performing, at the appropriate rate of wages, such work as the Government might call on him to do. The withholding of maintenance from the head of a family should, of course, not deprive his dependants of maintenance.

In paragraph 13, the committee recommended a scale of benefits which would secure to a small family a wage of about £4 5s. or £4 10s. a week. That rate was based upon a scale of family benefits. In my opinion, the Government ought not to lose any time in making it clear to people who are being thrown out of work that they will be maintained by the Government until work is found for them. An obligation is imposed on all .people in the community to do such work as the Government calls on them to do, and therefore, in my opinion, the Government should provide them with reasonable maintenance until it finds work for them if its policy throws them out of employment.

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