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Thursday, 10 October 1985
Page: 982


Senator SIBRAA —Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force figures for September? Do the figures underline the continuing success of the Government's economic and employment policies?


Senator Chipp —That must be a surprise question to you!


Senator BUTTON —It is not a surprise on this occasion. Of course I have seen the ABS figures on employment and I think they are encouraging. The September labour force figures, released at 11.30 this morning, are clear evidence of the success of the Government's economic policies and they are good news for the unemployed. Unemployment is now at its lowest level for three years. Employment grew by a massive 56,500 last month and the unemployment rate was reduced to 8.1 per cent-the lowest rate since September 1982. I make the additional point-I suppose this concerns the Opposition about as much as free lunches-that the participation rate stood at 61.1 per cent compared with 60.6 per cent in September 1984. In the last 12 months there have been fluctuating figures in the participation rate but there has been a general increase in that rate. I just make this point in passing: A one per cent increase in the participation rate is equivalent to 10,000 jobs.

Since this Government came to office over 487,000 jobs have been created; that is, since April 1983. The Government is now close to achieving its target of 500,000 new jobs in three years. In fact, job growth of 103,500 since June means that we are now well ahead of the Budget prediction of 180,000 jobs for employment growth during 1985-86.


Senator Crichton-Browne —How many in the public sector?


Senator BUTTON —I am coming to that. Almost three-quarters of this job growth has been in full time employment. An important feature of the figures which will appeal to Senator Crichton-Browne is the growth in the private sector. Eighty-six per cent of employment growth over the year to August 1985 has been in industries operating in the private sector. Those are very encouraging figures to the Government; but clearly, there is a long way to go and the Government is not satisfied and cannot be satisfied with the position as it currently stands. The point I want to make is that very substantial progress is being made.

I was asked by Senator Chipp by way of interjection whether I would be aware of the unemployment figures. Of course I watch for them every month and I think they are a very important indicator of the success of the recovery. In spite of the ideological carping of the Opposition, of which we have heard a lot in the last couple of days, they underpin the continued success of the accord and the results which are being produced. What this Government has to offer is jobs and continued growth. The figures demonstrate a lot of the nonsense which has been talked in opposition-calls for the abandonment of the accord and the Government's wages policy and a return to some half-baked smorgasbord of deregulated industrial relations systems and the sort of mess we had in 1982, presided over substantially by the present Leader of the Opposition. Once again one can say that there is cautious encouragement and optimism in these figures-probably a little more encouragement and optimism than we have received in the steady progression in increases in employment in this country and in reductions of unemployment.


Senator Chaney —Mr President, I ask the Minister to table the paper from which he has quoted.


The PRESIDENT —The Minister has been requested to table the paper from which he has quoted.


Senator BUTTON —I table the paper.