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Wednesday, 21 May 1980
Page: 2964

Mr YOUNG (PORT ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -I refer the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs to his comment in the House on 30 April in answer to a question by the honourable member for Gellibrand. The Minister stated:

The labour force series is a series that has been used for a long time and accepted as an indication of the growth in the labour force.

Is it a fact that the April labour force figures which were released today show a drop in the employed labour force of 5 1,000? Is this not the largest drop for the month of April since the figures have been collected on a monthly basis? Will the Minister now repudiate his statement to the House on 29 April that 'Australia has the potential for strong and sustained employment growth'?

Mr VINER (STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs) - I can tell the honourable gentleman unhesitatingly that I will not repudiate that statement. I stand by it. As the years of the 1 980s go by -

Mr Innes - He is an out and out liar.

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable member for Melbourne will withdraw that remark.

Mr Innes - I withdraw. He just handles the truth carelessly.

Mr SPEAKER -The house will come to order. The honourable member for Melbourne will withdraw unqualifiedly.

Mr Innes - I withdraw.

Mr VINER - I was saying that I will not repudiate the statement that I made. I stand by it. As the years of the 1 980s go by the correctness of that statement will unfold. The fact is that our economic strategy is geared to economic growth. We recognise that only through economic growth will there be employment growth. In that way Australia will be able to employ more people and will be able to stabilise and then lower the level of unemployment.

On an annual basis the employed labour force rose by 135,700 to April 1980. It is correct that there was a phenomenal rise in the number of people employed in the labour force last month. Because the number of persons employed rose by such a large amount last month it was not unexpected that there would be a fall this month.

If the honourable gentleman reads the Australian Statistician's report he will see that the Statistician made that very comment. The annual rate of growth of employment for the year to April shows that total employment continues to maintain a strong annual growth rate. It is precisely what this Government has sought to achieve and what we have seen achieved. The employment growth has also continued to outpace the labour force growth. With an employment growth rate of 1 35,000 over a year we see a very strong growth in the level of employment. One of the features in which the honourable member might be interested is that the growth in both labour force and total employment has been concentrated among females. That ought to hearten the honourable gentleman because for so long people have complained that females have been relatively worse off in the improved conditions in the economy. I hope that from here on we will see continued opportunities for employment for males as well as females. We will then have an even-handed situation in the economy.

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