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Wednesday, 9 March 1977

Mr MALCOLM FRASER - I think the honourable gentleman is simplifying a certain proposition to much too great an extent. Quite obviously there is a process of mechanisation throughout industry and has been for a very long while. The point I was seeking to make was that if Australians- that includes, I would hope, every person in this House- want full employment in this country and want to recapture the circumstances in which everyone who wants a job can get one, some industries, I think, will have to be reasonably labour intensive. If one wants to establish the mechanisms of lack of protection, which makes certain that all those industries disappear from Australia, I believe that this country would be very much worse off because we would not have the kind of employment situation which basically we need. Much of this is bound up with the rate of change. Quite obviously there is a speed of change which industry can undertake in a reasonable and proper manner. If one tries to force the pace of change too much, there will be a very serious situation and many people will lose their jobs. In the manufacturing industry, for example, wages rose by 53 per cent in the 2 years to October, at a time when productivity in the manufacturing industry actually fell. Roughly 100 000 people lost their jobs in manufacturing industry over that period. I hope the honourable gentleman will not try to over simplify matters that have quite complex relationships with each other.

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