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Wednesday, 16 September 1936

Senator HARDY (New South Wales) . - The sum of £7,000 is set down for salaries and expenses associated with the Bureau of Census and Statistics. Our statistics relating to unemployment and the distribution of incomes are not reliable. Before either a business concern or a nation can plan its programme satisfactorily it must have on hand reliable and sufficient data to guide it. The statistics relating to unemployment are based on figures supplied by reporting trades unions.

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - The information is most inaccurate.

Senator HARDY - That is so. It does not cover workers who are not members of trades unions, or those engaged in rural industries. I have discussed this subject with officers of the department, and I believe that, at no great cost, it would be possible to obtain more reliable figures in relation to unemployment, and as to the classes of people who are employed, than those which are now published. Should Australia embark upon a policy of expanding its secondary industries, we should know in what directions to direct our efforts, but at present it i3 impossible to obtain reliable information on which to base a sound system of apprenticeship. We are, as it were, flying blind. In regard to the distribution of the national income, it is most important that we should know whether or not conditions are improving from year to year. These figures arc relatively more important than those relating to unemployment. The census returns of 1933 showed that, including pensioners and children, over 3,000,000 people in this country possessed no taxable income whatever. In my opinion, that figure is unreliable. It is based on information obtained when this country was in the depths of a depression. Greater co-operation .between the taxation authorities and the statistical bureaux of the States would give much better results than we are now getting. I sincerely trust that the leader of the Senate will give serious consideration to the representations which I have made, and even if the compilation of additional statistics should prove expensive, I believe the expense will be fully justified because of their. value in the planning of our national economy.

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