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Unemployment Macquarie Broadcast

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EMBARGO; 6.30 P.M.


Good evening. Last Thursday, the Federal Parliament completed a three week debate on the 1972 Budget. We waited in vain for an

acknowledgement or apology from ministers that the previous Budget was a grievous mistake. Even more serious was the lack of any

real explanation of how the new Budget will correct those mistakes; there is just no plan for dealing, with the twin problems of .

unemployment and inflation. And most serious of all was the

underlying assumption in all the speeches by ministers from Mr. McMahon down that the present level of unemployment is more or less

acceptable and not a cause for real worry. And their lack of ,

concern for the problem of unemployment was reflected by their . refusal to lift unemployment benefitsĀ« The fact is that the Liberals are in the process of re—defining the meaning of full employment in Australia. Again and again, they defended the present situation where 2 per cent of the workforce are registered unemployed, where

3,500 school leavers have been 11 months on the dole, where overtime has been slashed in 60 per cent of.industry; the Liberals, defended this situation by pointing to overseas comparisons, and claim that at least we were doing better than, the United States or Britain. The clear intention is to condition Australian public.opinion into the belief that our employment standards should be those of countries which, unlike Australia, have never had a. national policy of genuine

full employment. Since 1947 Australia.has had such ,a policy; both sides in the national Parliament, have hitherto subscribed to it and that bipartisan approach has ensured in general remarkable, success. Even in 1961, the only time since the war that.unemployment has . been higher than it is now,. Sir Robert Menzies never tried to. slide

away from the bipartisan national policy of genuine full employment. His successors are preparing a different course. They have not even

scrupled to suppress and distort the real extent of unemployment in this country. In May the Commonwealth Statistician produced figures which showed that unemployment was nearly 60 per cent higher among those born outside Australia than among those born in Australia. and. that 9 per cent of last y e a r ’s, migrants were unemployed. He promised to publish corresponding information in his regular quarterly bulletins. — essential if we are to plan the proper level of migration. . This, month he was. instructed not to publish these figures. In other w o r d s , there is a concerted.effort to understate the number of unemployed and to under—rate the

seriousness of the present unemployment position. The Budget itself concedes that the intention is to keep unemployment, at its present level for all next year. The growth rate which the Budget

anticipates will not be enough to. provide jobs for all the men and

women able and willing to. join or rejoin the workforce.


. It ls just not good , enough. . T.h,e. present., level x of, unemployment has cost Australia at least. $800 million in lost .production; in the current year , the cost will be. at, l e a s t . 000 million. . , This . l o s s , this . unemployment .was deliberately, and needlessly, .created.. Full employment, genuine full employment in the,sense accepted by all parties for the last quarter century, must again become a top

national priority for Australia. A Labor Government will accept that obligation.