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Tuesday, 16 September 1958
Page: 1234

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - The figure quoted by the honorable gentleman is accurately stated as that which was released by my department. It can be seen that, in proportion to the total of factory employment, it represents a decline of .3 per cent. Some of the decline was of a seasonal character. I myself do not think that it can be said with substantial justification that it is a direct consequence of automation. In odd instances, there may have been some displacement of labour as a result of the introduction of mechanical equipment and so forth, but I think it is a reflection, in what is normally not a very busy time of the year, of the decline in export prices, and other factors which would tend to have some steadying or even depressing effect upon the economy. It is a relatively small movement in terms of the percentage that I have given, and it may well be that as we move on towards the end of the year that position will be reversed.

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