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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 3981


Mr WALLIS (GREY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Is the Minister for Labour aware of the difficulties that are being experienced by unemployed persons in certain areas of the northern part of South Australia in obtaining employment? If so, what steps are being taken by his Department to overcome these difficulties?


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The subject of employment assistance in rural areas is one upon which it is very difficult for the Government to make a final decision. The Cabinet decided some weeks ago to postpone further consideration of a proposition I had then put on rural unemployment relief, on the ground that the employment position was improving at such a rate that to give massive unemployment relief assistance in the country at that stage could easily create a situation in which employers in country areas would find it impossible to obtain workers because all the otherwise available workers in those areas would be employed on rural relief schemes. Subsequent events have proven that the Cabinet was right in the cautious attitude it took on that occasion because, whilst there were 31 distinct areas of quite bad unemployment in relation to the number of vacancies at that time in the areas concerned, we now find that the number of bad areas has been reduced to something like five or six; thus giving support to the Cabinet's hesitancy to rush into the proposition that I was then putting to it. I admit that it was right and I was wrong when I put the proposition at that time.

The main areas of distress at the moment lie in the State of Tasmania. The Deputy Prime Minister and the honourable members for Braddon, Wilmot, Denison and Franklin have constantly been putting to me the need for something to be done in that State. We are looking at the matter. We hope that we can do something for Tasmania.


Mr Bourchier - What about my request for Bendigo?


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The honourable member for Bendigo has spoken to me about this matter. The honourable member for Cowper also has spoken to me about it. The honourable member for Darling has constantly been bringing to my attention the position of Broken Hill. I might say that the honourable gentleman, who spoke to me about this matter again only this morning may be sorry to know that everything he said about Broken Hill's plight has been borne out by the official figures. Broken Hill is now the worst hit area in the whole of Australia. Port Pirie comes second. Coffs Harbour and Dubbo are other areas which are in a bad condition.


Mr Anthony - What about Lismore?


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Parts of Lismore perhaps are not too well off. Of course, they are not very well off politically, either, because of the kind of representation that they have in this Parliament. Until now, by way of a silly interjection, I had not heard a word from the member representing Lismore about the condition of the people in that city. I hope that the people of Lismore will remember that is was only at question time, by way of a flippant interjection, that their member of Parliament bothered to mention their plight to me.

The seriousness of the employment situation was brought to light by the provisional midNovember figures, which have been given to me on a confidential basis but in relation to which I am prepared to let the House into the secret. What is happening in Australia at the mement, provisionally, is that we have no fewer than 87,500 unfilled vacancies and 62,000 people registered as unemployed. In the half-month to mid-November the number of vacancies increased by 1,900. That has happened at a time of the year when unfilled vacancies usually fall. Let me give the figures for the last 3 years. In 1972 unfilled vacancies fell by 5,000 in mid-November. In 1971 they fell by 3,500 in the same period. In 1970 they fell by 6,000 in the same period. So, we are reaching a very delicate situation in which we have to consider very carefully how much money we will spend in rural areas on unemployment relief. There is, however, a special problem in Dubbo and Broken Hill. I intend to look at this problem. If it is possible to make some special grant that will relieve the distress there-


Mr Bourchier - You said yesterday that you had no funds.


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I do not have any funds. That is what I am saying. If I had funds I would be able to say: 'I have plenty of funds and I have decided to allocate a certain sum to Broken Hill'. It is because I have no funds that I have to say that I will look at the situation and see what can be done. Broken Hill is a distress area. The honourable member for Darling is also distressed that these people might have to face Christmas with a house full of children and no work. We want that position to be avoided, if possible, and I intend to take the matter up with the responsible Ministers or authorities to see whether we can relieve the situation for these people.







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