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Wednesday, 1 December 1965

Mr McMAHON (LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Labour and National Service) - We have had several questions in this House and have seen several newspaper articles which have created the impression that automation is likely to cause large-scale unemployment in this country. The Government does not hold this view. Members of the Government have made it clear on several occasions that we think automation is one of the means by which the take-home pay and working conditions of the working man may be continually improved. We believe also that by the application of modern methods of economies we can usually keep demand sufficiently high to ensure a high level of employment and also that our work force is continually employed. So, Sir, we do not fear automation in this country. All of the researches that have been carried out by the Departments of Labour and National Service indicate that automation can help to contribute a high level of employment rather than of creating a high level of unemployment. As to' the experience of the United States, I am glad that the honorable gentleman has directed my attention, and incidentally the attention of the House, to this, because the United States is the most highly automated country in the world. As automation has gone on there, the degree of unemployment has decreased.

Mr Calwell - The United States of America still has 5 million unemployed.

Mr McMAHON - Maybe it has, but as automation has gone on there has been a gradual recline in the percentage of unemployed and the percentage of unemployment today is lower than it has been for many years despite the fact that automation has gone on in America at a pace unprecedented anywhere.

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