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Tuesday, 24 March 1987
Page: 1366

Mr ALLAN MORRIS —Will the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations inform the House of the level of growth in employment in the current financial year and how that growth compares with Budget projections?

Mr WILLIS —I am very pleased that despite very difficult economic times with which the Government has been grappling in the last 18 months we have been able to maintain employment growth very well. That growth this financial year will be well in excess of the Budget forecast. As honourable members would be aware, in the last financial year 1985-86 we had extremely strong growth of employment but in the middle of calendar year 1986 employment growth sagged for a couple of months. Since the Budget, however, there has been a gradual strengthening of the labour market, a fact which has also been shown in the national accounts with the recovery of the economy evident in the December quarter. As a result of that growth in the labour market since the Budget, we now have an additional 97,600 jobs since that Budget-in the six months from August to February-which is a growth of virtually 100,000 additional jobs.

The questioner also asked about the Budget forecasts. The employment forecast in the Budget was for growth in 1986-87 over 1985-86 of one and three quarter per cent. We have already reached that point. Indeed, if there were no further growth in employment this financial year from the month of February, we would have growth in 1986-87 over 1985-86 of 2.1 per cent. As we expect further growth in employment in the course of the rest of this financial year I think I can say to the House that we can be very sure that we will have an outcome in employment well in excess of the Budget forecast. This shows that the Government's very good record on employment is continuing. As honourable members will be aware, since we have been in office there has been employment growth of 738,000 or 11.7 per cent, which is not only the faster rate of growth of employment of any country in the Western developed world in that period but also represents-and I would like honourable members opposite to take particular note of this-a growth in employment of a massive 400,000 more jobs than the Fraser Government was able to produce in seven and a quarter years.