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Thursday, 16 March 1961

Mr HAROLD HOLT - The honorable member should know by now - he has heard it often enough from this place - the policy of this Government in relation to employment in this country. Our policy is directed to ensuring that there are jobs adequate in number for the people able and willing to work and, to an extent unsurpassed by an industrial country anywhere in the free world, we have, throughout our period of office, sustained that policy as no other Australian government has ever done.

Inevitably, in a country which is so much subject to fluctuations in its terms of trade and the movements of exports of its primary products as is Australia, there will be fluctuations in its economic situation. For most of the time that we have been in office, the pressures of demand have been greater than has been the under-employment of resources. There have been times when our resources have not been fully employed, but they have been relatively short periods, and action has been taken by the Government to stimulate demand. More frequently, we have been concerned, as I believe any Australian government which is pursuing a dynamic policy of development would be concerned, with the excessive pressures of demand.

I know that honorable members opposite have been looking - I believe hopefully - to the day when there will be sufficient unemployment in this country for them to make political capital out of it, but they have found their hopes frustrated by the policies of this Government. We do not look to any level of unemployment as being satisfactory. What has to be looked at is how far job vacancies match the resources available to fill them. The objective of our policies will be to ensure that, over the long haul, the vacancies available will approximate the number of people able and willing to work. To take one illustration, at one time last year in the building industry there were five times as many vacancies as people offering for employment. We know the kind of industrial evils that a situation of that kind produces, and we set out to correct it. We hope to have the economy in balance as a result of our measures.

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