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Thursday, 5 December 1985
Page: 3019

Senator JONES —Has the attention of the Minister for Finance been drawn to Commonwealth Employment Service figures that reveal a staggering rise in job vacancies in the New South Wales catering industry and a vast improvement in the South Australian catering industry? How does this equate with the claims made by restaurants and catering associations and some individual restaurateurs that the Federal Government's measures to stamp out tax cheating at the dining table are causing great hardship in that industry?

Senator WALSH —I have not seen the particular figures to which Senator Jones has referred; that is, an increase of 140 per cent in job vacancies in the catering industry in New South Wales. But I have seen reports that CES vacancies notified for restaurants, hotels, clubs and so on for October 1985-which is the most recent month for which we have statistics, for five States and two Territories-show very significant increases in the number of vacancies notified in October 1984. So, far from there being mass retrenchments in the catering industry, as had been predicted by various Jeremiahs opposite, in fact there has been a very big increase in the number of vacancies advertised. In particular, the South Australian vacancies notified increased by 12.3 per cent for October 1985 over October 1984. So the claims of difficulties in obtaining employment in the catering industry are clearly false.

An article in the Daily Telegraph of 2 December reported Mr Les Rogers, the National President of the Restaurant and Catering Association, as claiming that there would be massive decreases in jobs and so on and massive unemployment in the industry due to the changed taxation treatment; in other words, the sort of hysterical nonsense we listened to for most of the morning. This is flatly contradicted by the CES figures for New South Wales for October 1985, which show that vacancies notified increased from 1,679 in October 1984 to 2,589 in October 1985. That is an increase of just over 54 per cent, which is not quite as high as the figure cited by Senator Jones, but unquestionably it is still a staggering increase in the number of vacancies. Moreover, only three cases of retrenchment could be identified in the 24 regional CES offices in New South Wales-an increase of 900 in the number of job vacancies and only three cases of retrenchment could be identified.

One can draw two conclusions from this: First, that beyond any doubt the claims being made by the Opposition are ludicrous. Secondly-a more general observation-that it is incongruous, to say the least, that a political party which prides itself on adopting some sort of spartan attitude to the economy could believe that one can construct an economy on a foundation of a free lunch.