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Tuesday, 10 April 1973
Page: 1287

Mr Lynch asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:

(1)   Is there a shortage of (a) skilled (b) semiskilled and (c) unskilled workers in any categories.

(2)   If so, has he directed that shortages in any category be met by overseas recruitment.

(3)   If a direction has been given, what is the level of recruitment in each category.

Mr Grassby - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   This is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Labour but it is obvious from recent announcements that employment opportunities are increasing.

(2)   and (3) As I have announced, the future emphasis of immigration programmes will be on the re-union of immediate family members and sponsorship will also be given priority. National need will also be an important consideration and where recruitment has been temporarily suspended in certain categories the situation is being regularly reviewed. There is close and continuing consultation with the Department of Labour on the numbers and categories of workers that may be accepted at any particular time.

Base Pension Rate (Question No. 192)

Mr Street (CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA) asked the Minister for Social

Security, upon notice:

What is the estimated cost of raising the base pension rate to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings and when is it expected that this proportion will be reached.

Mr Hayden (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Social Security) - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

Based on average weekly earnings per male unit for the December Quarter 1972 of $104, it would be necessary to increase the base rate of pension by $4.50 to $26 a week in order to raise that rate to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. If all existing age, invalid, widow and service pensioners were to receive an increase of $4.50 a week, it is estimated that the additional annual cost would be about $290m. Average weekly earnings for the December quarter, being inflated by overtime pay and Christmas bonuses, are always much higher than for the immediately preceding and succeeding quarters. A cost estimate based on average weekly earnings for the December quarter is thus somewhat inflated also.

No firm date has been fixed by the Government for bringing the pension rate up to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. Its announced policy is to raise the base pension to that level by increases of $1.50 a week each Spring and Autumn. The Government will respond appropriately if these increases do not achieve the desired result within a reasonable time.

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