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Tuesday, 16 November 1976

Mr HODGMAN (Denison) - As one who a couple of months ago was mildly critical of the Government in relation to the vexed question of unemployment of school leavers and as one who took considerable pleasure from the introduction of the special youth employment program, I bring to the attention of the House the success that that program has had in Tasmania, particularly in the Hobart area. At the time this program was introduced, Tasmania had the highest rate of unemployed 1975 school leavers of any State. What has been achieved in a period of a few weeks I suggest is not only almost unbelievable but also is a great tribute to the initiative shown by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) and the Government. It would surprise many people in this chamber to know that in October unemployment in the Hobart area dropped by nearly 12 per cent. I do not believe there would be too many places in Australia which could claim such a dramatic drop in unemployment at a time when the pariahs and jonahs on the other side of the chamber and a number of speculators and prophets of doom are trying to talk down the economic recovery which has been so carefully planned and which is now starting to show its true worth. There are honourable members on the other side of the chamber who regrettably take pleasure in being able to point to high unemployment figures and high inflation figures and say that our policies are not working. But the facts here are undisputable.

In Hobart the unemployment figure fell by 12 per cent in October. At the end of September 4133 people were out of work in Hobart but by the end of October that figure had been reduced by 455. In addition, and even more encouraging, was the fact that unfilled vacancies in the Hobart area increased in that month by nearly 25 per cent. At the end of September there were 412 unfilled vacancies in the Hobart area while at the end of October that figure had risen dramatically to 513. That is clear, inescapable proof that the policies of the Government are commencing to work. Under the special youth employment projects, which the Labor Party knocked and said were not worth a cracker but were only window dressing, nearly 100 young Tasmanians were placed in jobs in the first three weeks of that program's operation and 150 employers have come forward and notified vacancies under the program. Nearly 100 of those vacancies have been filled. I am proud to say that where we had a situation this time last year under the Labor Government with nearly 500 school leavers from 1974 still out of work one year after they left school, this year at the end of October there were only 233 school leavers from 1975 still out of work. That is an amazing tribute to the special youth employment program. It knocks completely on the head the remarks of the jeremiahs and jonahs on the other side of the chamber who said that it would not work. As the Minister has said, this pattern is showing up in other parts of Australia and young people are being found jobs and being included in the work force as a direct result of the initiatives of this Government. We on this side take a progressive and active role in getting young people into the work force whereas those on the other side of the chamber prefer to see soaring unemployment figures because they still believe that by continually knocking, by perpetually whingeing and by running down the economy they will in some way prevent the economic recovery which is just around the corner.

I add one final comment in relation to unemployment generally. I believe it is about time certain Press journalists stopped making comments and speculations which have the effect of bringing about economic downturn and speculation. In particular I refer to articles published last week speculating on the devaluation of the dollar. This is an extremely harmful exercise and leads to economic consequences which can only bring about misery and hardship. The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) speculated so dangerously about devaluation a few months ago. This is not assisting the recovery; it is leading only to greater uncertainty and will lead to greater hardship for the people of Australia. These speculators ought to shut up and allow the economy to recover instead of using it for cheap political purposes.

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