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Thursday, 25 November 1971
Page: 3638

Mr McIVOR (GELLIBRAND, VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that unemployed men aged 48 years and over applying to the Commonwealth employment offices for employment are being told that owing to their age there is little hope of work being found for them unless they have special qualifications? If these are the guide lines administered by the Commonweath employment offices - 1 doubt that they are - is it not a system of discrimination against the unqualified man seeking employment? Would it be more correct to say that the guide lines are laid down by the employers?

Mr LYNCH - Certainly the information which the honourable member has mentioned is totally contrary to any of the instructions under which the Commonwealth Employment Service is in fact operative and is totally inconsistent with my direct knowledge of its operations, as J am sure it would be inconsistent with the honourable member's direct knowledge of the operations of the Commonwealth Employment Service in his particular locality. I can say that it is the function of the Commonwealth, through the Commonwealth Employment Service, to seek to place in satisfactory employment any person registering with that Service. As I recall the figures, during the course of last year the Service handled in excess of 1 million job registrations and a large number of older workers were in fact placed in employment. I can assure the honourable gentleman that we place considerable stress on the needs of older workers and. on the basis of special research reports which have been prepared by my Department, prospective employers are certainly counselled as to the advantages of employing older workers in terms of their experience and maturity and the certain knowledge that older workers are less prone to absenteeism and high labour turnover.

So far as guidelines are concerned, of course, apart from the general instructions issued through my Department, naturally the Service is required to operate on the basis of the job specification which is presented by the employer group. There are some employers who operate in a somewhat arbitrary and restrictive fashion in relation to the question of age eligibility for certain jobs. That is a matter which my Department regrets and which I regret. Anything which any honourable member in this House can do to overcome what is in effect an anachronistic attitude would certainly be appreciated because the whole function of the Department is to operate on the basis that ability and not anniversaries should determine job selection.

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