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Wednesday, 3 May 1961

Mr HAROLD HOLT - The honorable member has spoken of unemployment in the textile industry. If he means that there has been a reduction of employment in the textile industry, then I think he accurately states the position. But many of those retrenched from the industry have, as my colleague the Minister for Labour and National Service has already pointed out, secured alternative employment in other fields of activity. I appreciate the fact that in some of the provincial centres there is not as much diversity of industry and not as many employment opportunities as are to be found in the major capital cities. This is a matter that has not been overlooked by the Government. We have given a good deal of thought to it, and in our instructions to the departmental officers who are currently examining the situation we have stressed this aspect of the matter. It would not be practicable for me to do more at this stage than make the following comment: - Having made a review of the situation, we believe that although there is a satisfactory level of employment in some sections of the building industry, we must endeavour to sustain a steady rate of home building. If we can stimulate housing activity, the results will be of value not only to the building industry itself, but also, indirectly, to the timber industry and the textile industry.

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