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Tuesday, 10 November 1953

Mr HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) (Minister for Immigration) - There should be no occasion for the circulation of conflicting reports because detailed statements analysing the employment situation are released monthly by my department, in addition to the figures made available by the Commonwealth Statistician. Furthermore, I have kept the House fully informed on the trends of the employment situation in recent months. The figures have disclosed a steady and progressive increase of the demand for labour. The most recent figures put before me, which will be included in the next monthly review, show that at present 35,000 unfilled work vacancies are recorded in Australia and that 32,000 people ari: registered, for employment. The number of persons in receipt of the unemployment benefit is somewhat less than half the number registered for employment. Tn the last fortnight, the number of persons registered for employment has fallen by 5,000. I can only repeat that there is a steady and progressive demand for labour at present.

Mr BERRY - Can the Minister confirm or dispute a statement made recently by a. Labour member of the Parliament in Queensland that there are 70,000 unemployed in Australia at present? Can the Minister also give figures relating to the number of unemployed who are employable, as well as figures for the number not fit for employment?

Mr HOLT - I can only repeat my statement in relation to persons who have registered for employment with my department's employment service.

Dr Evatt - People who are actually seeking employment.

Mr HOLT - Yes, not merely people who are applying for unemployment benefit, but people who register themselves as being available for employment. At the moment such individuals number 32,000. The number of vacancies for work recorded in my department is in excess of 35,000. The number of people who are in receipt of unemployment benefit, or who have registered themselves as available for employment, but would iu point of fact be virtually _ unemployable, would require some sifting out. I may be able to supply a figure that would express the information in terms of percentages. I shall see whether I can do so.

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