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Thursday, 28 February 1985
Page: 382

Mr BRUMBY —Will the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations inform the House whether Victoria has shared in a national improvement under the Australian Labor Party? Can he indicate what are the future prospects for the Victorian labour market?

Mr WILLIS —All honourable members would be aware that, since the Hawke Government has been in office, this country has experienced a very strong economic recovery and great improvement in the labour market. I am very pleased to say that Victoria has shared more than proportionately in that improvement. Over the past year Victoria has experienced the fastest rate of employment growth of any mainland State. A total of 67,000 new jobs have been generated over the year to January 1985, representing a 4.1 per cent increase compared with an increase nationally of just under 3 per cent. With only 26 per cent of the Australian labour force, Victoria has accounted for 38 per cent of employment growth in Australia over the past year. That, obviously, is a very good record on the employment side.

On the other side of that coin, unemployment in Victoria has also improved very substantially-it has fallen by more than 21 per cent or about 13 per cent over the past year. The unemployment rate in Victoria has fallen by almost one and a half percentage points in the past year and currently stands at 7.8 per cent, which is the lowest of all Australian States and the only State below the national unemployment rate.

In regard to young people, the number of young unemployed teenagers looking for full time work has fallen by 20 per cent over the year to January 1985. The unemployment rate amongst these young job seekers is the lowest rate for all Australian States and represents a fall of almost 7 per centage points in that unemployment rate. With regard to employment and unemployment there is no doubt that the State of Victoria has performed very well. Indeed, even with regard to industrial disputation, there has been a dramatic improvement in that State. In 1981 it had the second highest level of industrial disputation. In the year to November 1984 it was the second lowest in the country and over the last two years the number of days lost due to industrial disputes in Victoria has virtually been halved. So on both the employment and industrial relations side there has been a tremendously good performance by the Victorian Government.

I would like to say that on the basis of the policies which have been put forward by the Cain Government for its next period of office, and those that have been put forward by the Opposition, there can be no doubt that a re-election of the Cain Government is essential for the continuance of this very good performance in Victoria. In particular, let me say that the policy of the youth guarantee, which has been announced by the Cain Government, will be a very considerable improvement for young people, providing a guarantee to all 15 and 18-year-olds that there will be a job, education or training for them. That, indeed, is a very dramatic policy and one which offers infinitely more for young people than the idiotic youth employment scheme put forward by the Kennett Opposition, a policy which is totally ill-conceived, which would cover only one-third of the work force, which would probably result in higher rates of wages for some juniors because it has been so ill-conceived and would, almost certainly, result in the displacement of many adults by juniors. The YES is definitely a no no. I am sure the people of Victoria will see that and vote accordingly on Saturday.