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Unemployment Macquarie Broadcast

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B IwEMBARGO; 6.30 P.M.


. Good.evening. Last month's unemployment figures revealed that unemployment has risen to the highest level since 1961 and that in real terms it is as bad as. at . any time since before the Second World. War.. The.entire period of the McMahon Government has been marked by. a widening of .the. gap between registered unemployed

and unfilled, vacancies. That, unemployment could continue to rise in August usually an extremely buoyant.month -. is depressing news indeed. , . It particularly depressing, for young people about to leave school because it means that they will b e .thrown on to a labour market which is very ill-equipped to absorb them. The plain fact, i s .that und e r .the McMahon Government the Australian economy is not growing fast, enough to provide employment for its available work force. This year there, will be 190»Q00 school leavers. The Treasurer, Mr. Sneddeh, his Budget that the Government

estimated that,.there would be an increase of. 2 per cent in employment in this, financial year, ,bpt that would mean only another 90,000 new jobs. What. is. to happen to the o.ther 100,00.0 school leavers as well as the 100,000 and more already seeking jobs?. I emphasise that these are the Government's, own estimates of the results of its own plans. It is on the basis of these figures that .my.colleagues, Mr. Clyde Cameron and Mr. Frank Crean, have predicted that unemployment will rise to 200,000 next year unless immediate action is taken to stimulate

the economy further.

. . Now it's,true, that since the disastrous first Budget of the McMahon Government in August last y e a r , a number of measures have been taken in an effort to undo the damage. They have had the

great defect .that they ,have not. placed sufficient . spending power in the hands of people who. must spend all their.income.just in order to live. The, biggest.class of such persons is of course the pensioners of all kinds. Another class are the unemployed themselves who have to survive.on a .scandalously low payment of $18 per week. I urged in February a,nd again in. August. that there should be an immediate grant to. the s„e„.pe.qple of ,$100 each. T h e . merit . of this proposal is . .

that by adding.$100 million to the community’s purchasing power and placing it in the hands of people who are likely to spend it quite .

quickly, the economy would, receive, an immediate boost, yet would not build a continuing inflationary fa.ct.or, into the .economy.

The tax measures of.the Budget and t h e .pension increases will not act rapidly enough to give the economy the immediate boost it needs. That boost has to be given before the New Year when the

school leavers enter the work force in their scores of thousands.

. In the longer term, the great ..danger Australia faces is . .

that we might come to accept as normal and acceptable the level of . unemployment which has .prevailed, during. the.. whole of the McMahon . Government „ To justify the .present level, the Liberals claim, that . . . we are doing.better than comparable countries. Even if this were .

true, it would be no excuse. But in fact most of the countries of

the. European Economic Community, have continuously, .and consistently enjoyed an unemployment level lower than Australia’s present .2.14 per cent of the workforce, and I suggest that these countries .are the relevant parallels.for Australia. Maintaining .genuine

full employment m u s t . be a top. national ..p.riority for Australia. Australians must insist that their national government accepts fully and without qualification i t s .responsibility tp.maintain genuine full employment. If the. people. allow .governments to back-track

or back-slide, on, this, responsibility, then a climate would develop . in. which the . high, levels Of .unemployment, which persist , in. the . . . United S tates.and Britain .are.regarded as.normal and tolerable in . . Australia, The Australian Labor Party, which' established full .

employment as a primary aim of national policy in the days of post­ war reconstruction, will bend all its efforts to ensure that full employment is restored to its place at the top. of the national . program for Australia. ·