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Monday, 26 November 1973
Page: 3802

Mr MARTIN (BANKS, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Minister for Housing and Minister for Works. Is there any evidence to show that the measures introduced by this Government to deal with the liquidity problem have caused unemployment in the building and construction industry? Will the Minister give an assurance that the weapon of unemployment will not be invoked deliberately to relieve excessive pressures on the building industry?

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is the firm intention of the Government to maximise the use of the building and construction force. We need something like one million houses in the next 5 years to meet the housing demand of this country. In those circumstances it would be foolhardy to adopt a policy involving the lay-off of employees. I think that there have been occasions on which the previous Administration used the weapon of unemployment for economic reasons.

Mr McMahon - No, never!

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is unquestionably the case. I can give an unequivocal assurance that such a weapon will not be used by this Government. We would rather use the weapon of price control to regulate the economic problems with which we are confronted. For that reason we are seeking a 'yes' vote on 8 December. Let me say very precisely to the honourable gentleman that there is no evidence of any serious trend towards unemployment in the building and contraction industry at present. In fact, the official figures released by the Commonwealth Statistician on 23 November were to the effect that registered unemployment fell by 140 and vacancies increased by 374.

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