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Tuesday, 16 October 1956

Mr Webb b asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -

1.   Have over 2,000 person been in receipt of unemployment benefits in Western Australia since the end of May?

2.   What amount was expended in that State on unemployment benefits from the end of May to 15th September, 1956?

3.   Did the Premiers Conference recommend that finance be made available to Western Australia to absorb unemployment?

4.   Would part of the cost have been offset by a saving in the cost of unemployment benefits, and the persons who received these benefits gainfully employed?

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   No. For the period of eight weeks ending 15th September the number receiving unemployment benefit in Western Australia was in excess of 2,000. From the end of May until the week ended 28th July the numbers were below 2,000 and since 1 5th September the number has again fallen below 2,000.

2.   I am informed by my colleague, the Minister for Social Services, that the sum of £92,500 was expended for unemployment benefit payments in Western Australia from the end of May to 15th September, 1956. 3 and 4. The Premiers conference did not recommend that finance be made available to absorb unemployment. At the last meeting of the Australian Loan Council at the end of June, however, the Acting Prime Minister indicated, with the concurrence of the other Premiers, that the Commonwealth would be prepared to consider any application which the Premier of Western Australia might make for some special assistance from the Commonwealth. The matter has since been the subect of correspondence between the two governments and the Commonwealth Government has now indicated that it is willing to make available in 1956-57 to the Government of Western Australia a further allocation of loan moneys of £2,000,000.

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