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Tuesday, 25 September 1973
Page: 1417


Mr GORTON (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Labour. Did the Minister state that the election promise of the Prime Minister, to introduce the 35-hour week for the Commonwealth Public Service in the life of this Parliament, could not be carried out with any economic responsibility? Does he still adhere to that view or does he support the carrying out of the promise made by the Prime Minister at the election and by implication endorsed again just a few minutes ago?


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The right honourable gentleman knows very well what I said because he was looking at the program. He does not remember exactly what I said, but it is near enough. I have personally come to the view that while the labour market remains as tight as it now is, that is, with more unfilled jobs than registered unemployed, it is not possible to introduce a 35- hour week across the board or in the Public Service without merely increasing either the amount of regular overtime that the public servants now work or else, if this is to be avoided, drawing on the market that is already very tight and taking from private enterprise people who are in short supply and putting them into the Public Service, in which case the regular overtime which would otherwise be necessary in the Public Service would be transferred into the private sector. It is not the purpose of the 35-hour week merely to increase the amount of regular overtime. That is not why the unions are asking for the 35- hour week either. They want the 35-hour week in order to increase the amount of leisure for those who are working and to give greater job opportunities for those who cannot get any work at all. Honourable members must remember that when the Prime Minister gave his undertaking to introduce the 35-hour week in the lifetime of the present Parliament we had an army of 130,000 people out of work with less than 30,000 registered unfilled vacancies. Today we have something like 80,000 unfilled vacancies and something in the order of 69,000 registered unemployed. So the situation has been drastically changed, and the Prime Minister cannot have it both ways.


Mr Whitlam - The former Prime Minister.


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No, this Prime Minister connot 'have it both ways. He cannot reduce the level of unemployment in the way he has done and expect to be able to introduce the 35-hour week at the same time. It cannot be done. I hope that he is not like my uncle and decides that death is preferable to breaking a promise.







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