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Tuesday, 24 November 1959

Mr McMAHON (Lowe) (Minister for Labour and National Service) . - I think I should say immediately to the honorable gentleman from East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that he has proved absolutely nothing. The figures that he has given show quite clearly, first, that there has been a continuous reduction in the number of people seeking employment. They show, secondly, that there has been a continuous reduction in the number of people receiving unemployment benefit. The last point is just as important as the others, although the honorable member for East Sydney has not the good grace or the good manners to stay and listen to the answer to his criticism. He is now walking out of the House.

Mr Ward - I have not been out of the House at all.

Mr McMAHON - You have come back, but you were ducking out pretty quickly. Finally, I point out that the number of job vacancies that are there and ready to be filled, provided that people of the requisite technical capacity are available, is constantly rising. I point that out because if all those figures are taken together, they indicate that the employment position in Australia to-day could not be very much better. We are gradually getting to a position of over-full employment. I will get a complete analysis of the figures for the honorable member for East Sydney; but he confuses two things and confuses them very badly. The work force comprises not only people in industry and in agriculture, but also people engaged in various other activities. The figures are totally different from those quoted by the honorable gentleman. In other words, a reconciliation can be made. It is quite simple to prove the reconciliation, and I will be the happiest person in the world to write a letter to the honorable gentleman so that he may have not only the precise figures but also the accurate explanation. I go further. If he is incapable of understanding or does not want to understand the figures, I will either personally try to give him the explanation-

Mr Ward - When?

Mr McMAHON - I will try to get the figures for you just as soon as I can.

Mr Ward - This week?

Mr McMAHON - I will try to get them for you this week. I will certainly try to have them for you before the House rises on Thursday night. Having said that, I want to make it clear that the honorable gentleman must draw a distinction between the two sets of figures - the actual number of persons in industrial employment and the number engaged in the work force. Once that reconciliation is made, all the figures fit into a pattern, and I think that this will be found to emerge from it: We are getting to a state of over-full employment. It is very difficult in many walks of life to find the appropriate employee to fit into the expanded industrial programme.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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