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Thursday, 4 April 1957

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - Dealing with the introductory remarks to the honorable gentleman's question, I do not know of the alarming increase in unemployment to which he refers. It is always something of a mystery to me why honorable gentlemen opposite should seek to exaggerate the economic problems of this country - behaviour on their part which cannot assist in the solution of the economic problem itself but can serve only to damage confidence in our economy and discourage people who otherwise might be disposed to provide employment opportunities. As honorable members know, there is a quite authoritative survey made by the department each month of the employment situation. The survey for the last month under review reveals a decline of something over 2,000 in that month in the number of people in receipt of unemployment benefits. The figure for the latest week, which reached my desk yesterday, showed a total reduction of 299 persons on unemployment benefit; there was actually a reduction of 372 in the number of males on benefit. Consequently, I cannot accept the honorable gentleman's proposition that there is any alarming increase in unemployment. As to whether the facilities of the Commonwealth Employment Service in the district to which he refers are adequate to meet the needs of the area, that is a question of fact which would bear examination. 1 shall make that examination and supply the honorable gentleman with a considered answer.

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