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Tuesday, 19 September 1972
Page: 1519

Mr HURFORD (ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Has the Prime Minister noted that the Premier of South Australia, Mr Don Dunstan, has called for a special Premiers Conference to discuss urgently the tragic unemployment situation highlighted by the bad figures that have just been read to us and which were released last night? What is the Prime Minister's attitude to this call? Has he also noted that the South Australian Labor Government has appropriated $2m from scarce State funds in order to stimulate employment in the Adelaide metropolitan area? Will the Commonwealth Government reimburse this amount and indeed add to it? If not, why is this Commonwealth Government prepared directly to stimulate rural employment and to ignore the sorry plight of the metropolitan unemployed?

Mr McMAHON - I want to confirm what the Minister for Labour and National Service has just said. The simple fact is that the unemployment figures have fallen. They fell by 2,375 last month. Statements that appear in newspapers, such as one metropolitan paper in Victoria, that the number of jobless rose by 7 per cent are in fact wrong. I think it is high time something was said about these seasonal figures. They are calculated so that the Commonwealth Statistician can try to help technical experts, Treasury officials and others to forecast trends. Our Budget was deliberately designed to have an impact upon unemployment, and its effect will be increasingly felt as the days go by.

The honourable member for Adelaide might like to know the unemployment rates in the 3 Liberal States. The unemployment rate is 1.61 per cent in New South Wales, about 1.63 per cent in Victoria and 1.15 per cent in Queensland; and in South Australia it is 2.49 per cent. Only yesterday I received a letter or a telegram from Mr Dunstan, the Premier of South Australia. I will be giving this close attention today. It is probably in the hands of the Treasury by now. But what I want to say to the honourable gentleman is this: I have said before that I regard unemployment as a cardinal principle for the Liberal and Country parties. We do not play politics with this issue. We regard it as more humanitarian than economic or political. We will do all in our power lo ensure that people get jobs and we will keep the unemployment rate to the lowest possible level.


Mr McMAHON - When I answered a previous question I inadvertently used the word 'unemployment'. I should have said that full employment is a cardinal principle of Liberal and Country Party policy.

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