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Tuesday, 30 May 1972
Page: 3218

Mr HOLTEN (Indi) (Minister for Repatriation) - This discussion of a matter of public importance obviously has been inspired by the announcement that General Motors-Holden's Pty Ltd will close its assembly plant at Mosman Park, Perth, Western Australia, over a transitional period. The House will appreciate that very little notice was given that this subject was to be raised and that, therefore, it has not been possible to obtain all the detailed information that one would have liked to have at one's disposal. Obviously this is a commercial decision by a large company which has Australia-wide activities and ramifications. It cannot be proposed, nor do I accept, that the decision is a result of Government policies - at least, not the policies of the Federal Government. There may be some concern by the company about the Western Australian Labor Government and its policies in the future. No-one can say this for sure, but certainly it is worth some thought.

At the outset, I assure the House and the people of Australia that the Federal Government is most concerned that a commercial decision such as this could cause people to lose their jobs and, therefore, could cause them financial and other associated problems, even though such problems may be temporary only. The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) stressed that companies such as General Motors-Holden's should have a social conscience in this matter. The announced intentions of the company reveal that in fact it has a social conscience. GMH has stated that it will provide special financial assistance for some of its employees. It has said that special financial arrangements, depending on age and length of service, will be provided for those employees whose services are to be terminated and that they will be advised individually of the basis. Also, personal contact will be made with each of these employees to determine in what other ways the company can assist in finding them alternative employment. The company has also informed the Western Australian Department of Labour and the Commonwealth Employment Service in Perth that it will provide both Departments and Western Australian employer organisations with full details of the qualifications, experience and job preferences of those employees who want assistance in obtaining alternative employment. I am sure that GMH will obtain all possible assistance from the Commonwealth Employment Service. So, the reported statements of the company indicate that it is very conscious of its responsibilities to its employees who may lose their positions.

The honourable member for Fremantle asked for an affirmation of the Government's stated full employment policy and its determination to achieve this objective. I do not think there is any need to restate this policy because it has been repeated time and again by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and the relevant Ministers that the objective of this Government is to maintain full employment throughout Australia. Not all factors involved in this matter are within the control of the Federal Government, although a great many are. I think that, on the statistics available the Federal Government can claim that it has one of the best employment records in the world.

Mr Foster - I want to raise a point of order. The Minister has referred to matters being irrelevant to certain Ministers.

Would he, as Minister for Repatriation, consider the subject now before the House to be irrelevant to bis Department?

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