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Wednesday, 14 March 1973
Page: 542

Mr LYNCH (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) - The Prime Minister, to whom I address my question, will be aware that the current level of unemployment is 1.8 per cent of the work force. Bearing in mind the statements in his policy speech, will he say what percentage of unemployment, in the present economic circumstances, would be regarded by his Government as genuine full employment? Is he aware that labour shortages are adding to the inflationary spiral by creating a number of production difficulties in a range of important industries? In view of the cutbacks in the level of immigration, what action is his Government taking to overcome these shortages, apart from the proposals in relation to industrial training initiated by the former Government and which are necessarily not short term in their impact?

Mr WHITLAM - The present Government does not regard any level of unemployment as satisfactory or acceptable. We do not try to lull the Australian people by saying that because there has been a higher percentage of unemployment in the United States of America, Canada or Britain therefore unemployment in Australia is comparatively satisfactory at the level it reached last year. We take much more as our model the lower level of unemployment shown last year in Western European countries. We are in fact not content merely with the programs of training that the late Government introduced. We are also introducing programs of retraining. We are particularly concerned with the fact that very great numbers of people are put out of jobs and if they are in the middle years of their lives they cannot get new jobs. We are regarding the whole question of employment for people, not only teenagers leaving school and so on but also those of middle years or later, with a consistent interest. We believe that all men and women in Australia of whatever age are entitled to expect employment if they wish it.

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