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Wednesday, 27 November 1985
Page: 2357

Senator COOK —Has the Minister representing the Treasurer seen the report in the Canberra Times of last Friday headed: `No mass job losses in restaurants: CES'? I ask the Minister whether he is aware that the article in part reads:

Nationwide, the total number of hotel and restaurant vacancies notified to the CES during October 1985 was higher than at any time since October 1984, and represented a 25.9 per cent increase over the year.

Do not the Commonwealth Employment Service statistics finally put the lie to the Opposition's claims of 30,000 jobs lost throughout Australia because of the business lunch tax?

Senator WALSH —This is another issue which draws attention to the propensity of the Opposition to believe whatever it chooses to believe regardless of the objective realities.

Senator Button —Senator Messner, particularly.

Senator WALSH —Yes, Senator Messner in particular. The Opposition, under the tutelage of its temporary leader, is pursuing a policy of deregulation of the labour market and the abandonment of centralised wage fixing in the expectation that that will lead to a slower rate of wages growth, based on the assumption that this is a completely competitive economy with completely competitive markets for labour, services and commodities. It is not, but the Opposition continues to believe that it is. Likewise, the Opposition apparently continues to believe that there will be massive losses in the catering industry because of the termination of the free lunch. The story to which Senator Cook referred as well as the facts that he mentioned show that in all States other than Victoria or Tasmania there were increases in the number of vacancies in the catering industry following the termination of the free lunch. I certainly would not argue with or fall for the logical fallacy that this increase in the number of vacancies was necessarily caused by the termination of the free lunch, but I think it does demonstrate to any person with some sort of nodding acquaintance with reality that there was little if any correlation between the level of employment in the industry and the free lunch.

I also noted that the demonstration outside Parliament House yesterday was not particularly well attended, which I suppose is testimony to two things: Firstly, that the people who are genuinely seeking employment in the catering industry are around at the CES offices, if they have not already got a job, getting the names of all those employers who want workers and who cannot get them. That is where the genuine workers in the catering industry could be expected to be. Secondly, whoever it was who organised the demonstration out there-I suppose this is an alternative point rather than a second one-did not have sufficient funds to rent a big enough crowd to make an impressive demonstration.