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Friday, 30 October 1964

Senator GORTON - The Minister for Labour and National Service has furnished the following answers -

1.   Yes.

2.   The introduction to the Ministry of Labour 's report says of the forecasts contained in it - " It is important to recognise the limitations of such forecasts. They represent no more than a careful assessment of probabilities based on the best evidence at present available, both statistical and non-statistical. Even when the main trends have been discerned - and this is complicated, especially in the case of manufacturing industry, by the intrusion of cyclical factors -their translation into quantitative terms at particular dates must be a hazardous operation. Moreover the method used for the employment forecasts, which consists essentially of projecting past employment trends, modified as necessary in the light of known plans and likely future developments, represents no more than a first approach to the problem. Other methods are being explored which may later lead to some revision of the present forecasts."

While my Department has done a deal of study on the future of the work force, for much the same reasons as are referred to above, to date I have not thought it would be useful for the Department to produce the sort of detailed forecast done in the United Kingdom. It is to be borne in mind that in Australia the rapid growth of our economic development, including the population growth due to migration, adds to the hazards of forecasting.

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