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Wednesday, 20 September 1972
Page: 1723

Mr O'KEEFE (Paterson) - 1 have been amazed at exaggerated statements being made by members of the Opposition concerning the employment situation in Australia, particularly in view of the fact that the worst situation exists in the Labor held States of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. Recent statistics have indicated that these States have shown the greatest percentage increase in unemployment. One would think that these Labor Governments would do something about this situation. It was extremely interesting to read an article in last night's Sydney 'Sun'. The article was headed 'Jobs - But No Takers' and stated:

Latest unemployment figures released by the Federal Government have employer groups baffled.

The official figures painted last month as the blackest August for employment since 1961.

But the New South Wales Employers' Federation says many industries just cannot find labour.

The federation's assertion is confirmed by 'The Sydney Morning Herald's' classified advertising section.

On Saturday 18th September last year, the Herald' carried 5,033 positions vacant ads.

On the corresponding Saturday this year, there were 5,321 - jobs advertised - 268 more than in 1971.

The Federation's executive director, Mr J. Darling, said today, 'There is a very definite shortage of manpower for skilled and semi-skilled jobs throughout New South Wales.

The official forecast is that all the school leavers will be absorbed into employment by the end of the year.

This is contrary to past experience which has shown that school leavers have never been employed until March of the following year.'

Executive director of the New South Wales Retail Traders' Association, Mr J. B. Griffin, said, I am not aware of any abundance of employees. 1 am sure, however, that there are plenty of people available for work but the question is whether they are suited for particular jobs.'

Mr Griffinsaid the Government figures 'surprised' him.

He said, 'The general feeling is that there has been an upturn in the economy and the business community in general is confident that there will be a progressive improvement.

Yet these figures show a trend the other way.'

The New South Wales Minister for Labour and Industry, Mr Hewitt, said today unemployment figures were inflated by some people being 'choosy about what jobs they will take.'

In my own electorate the position has improved considerably despite the fact that very dry seasonal conditions exist. Inquiries made at branches of the Department of Labour and National Service in various centres in the electorate do not reveal any panic or great numbers coming forward seeking employment. In fact, 1 know of many men on the land and in business who have advertised for employees but have not received even one applicant. The unemployment situation is grossly exaggerated.

The Budget brought down by the Government is proving most successful from an employment point of view. It has increased business activity and created confidence for employers to increase their staff. Country areas of Australia have been seriously affected by poor seasonal conditions and, with a downturn of purchases of machinery, trucks and the usual farming equipment, there has been a falling off in manufacture and supply sources with, of course, a laying off of staff. Although the rural sector is patchy there has been an improvement which is reflected in improved employment figures. The latest figures, for August, show 96,805 unemployed which represents 1.73 per cent of the work force. When compared with overseas countries, although we do not like to see unemployment in Australia and want full employment, our figures are the lowest on record except possibly for Japan and

West Germany which have 1.3 per cent of their work forces unemployed. The United Kingdom has 4.2 per cent of its work force unemployed, Canada 7.7 per cent, the United States of America 6.4 per cent, Austria 3.2 per cent and Belgium 3.6 per cent. In comparison we more than hold our own with these countries.

We have heard the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) quote figures out of the air of some 200,000 unemployed by Christmas and the shadow Treasurer, the member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), suggest 150,000 unemployed by Christmas. Late last year members opposite were quoting the above figures to apply in the first quarter of this year, but this was a gross miscalculation as are the statements again being uttered in this field. There are strong signs that unemployment is picking up and, of course, this does not suit the political feelings of the Opposition. The Government is pledged to full employment and has proved that it is prepared to help stricken rural areas with dollars. In the recent Budget it has shown a progressive, confident and realistic outlook in respect of the lower and middle income groups, with increased employment opportunities for Australians.

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