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Wednesday, 18 October 1972
Page: 1693

Senator WRIGHT O n 14th September 1972, Senator Gietzelt asked me the following question without notice:

Is he alarmed by the prediction of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures that another 250,000 people could lose their jobs within the next year because of technological advances in industry? Will he state what steps the Department of Labour and National Service intends to take to combat the growing effect of automation on job availability or is the Government now reconciled to having a permanent hard core of unemployment of over 100,000?

In reply I undertook to obtain a statement from the Minister for Labour and National Service concerning the displacement effects of technological change in Australia.

The Minister for Labour and National Service has advised me as follows:

I regard the prediction referred to in the question as utterly unfounded and a gross exaggeration of the effects of technological change on employment. Research conducted by the Department of Labour and National Service has shown that technological advances in Australia have not contributed to unemployment to any significant extent.

In recent years the Department, in conjunction with the National Labour Advisory Council, has undertaken a series of studies to assess the employment effects of technological advances in Australia. These studies, which have covered some 4,000 manufacturing and tertiary industry establishments employing almost a million workers, showed that 18,000 persons were displaced from their jobs over a period of 3 years as a result of new technology. Of these 18,000 persons, 12,000 were transferred to other jobs within the same establishment, 2,000 resigned or retired early, and only about 3,900 were actually retrenched. The number retrenched represents an annual average of 0.13 per cent of the labour force in those establishments in the period covered. I have no reason to believe that technological change will have any different impact on employment within the next year.

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