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Tuesday, 26 February 1985
Page: 179

Senator COLSTON —Has the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations noticed that the latest employment figures, compiled before the recent electricity dispute in Queensland, indicate that Queensland has a higher level of unemployment than that of any other State? Do recent figures, also compiled before the electricity dispute, indicate that the level of industrial disputation in Queensland is higher than that of the national average? While recognising that the Queensland Government is primarily responsible for this situation, is there anything the Federal Government can do about these matters which are so damaging to the Queensland economy?

Senator WALSH —I do not have the most recent employment and unemployment figures before me, but from memory I believe what Senator Colston said in his question is correct; that is, that Queensland has a higher rate of unemployment than any other State. I think the most recent figure was of the order of 10 1/2 per cent compared with the national average of 8 1/2 per cent. In Victoria the figure is around 7 1/2 per cent, which is the lowest in Australia. Perhaps a lesson is to be learned from that fact that Queensland has the highest rate of unemployment and that Victoria has the lowest, but that might have something to do with the respective governments in those States. It is not an unreasonable conclusion to draw. I am also aware of the fact that Queensland has by far the highest level of indebtedness per capita of any State government. Therefore, despite the enormous debts which the Queensland Government has been irresponsibly accumulating over many years, it has still managed to achieve simultaneously the highest rate of unemployment. I am not aware of the relative level of industrial disputes prior to the present strike, but I shall seek confirmation from the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and let Senator Colston know.