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Wednesday, 20 November 1974
Page: 2564

Senator CARRICK - I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labor and Immigration. I refer to recent statements by the Prime Minister that current unemployment would worsen in the months ahead and would not show any reversal of trend until at least after June 1975, some 7 months ahead. In view of this confession of abject failure by the Government, and in the face of predictions by reliable authorities that unemployment will reach between 300,000 and 400,000 in the early new year, what precise advice does the Government have to offer to the 230,000 school and college leavers who will be seeking employment in the vocations of their choice in the weeks now immediately ahead? Is their only prospect the dole for the next 7 months? If not, and if unemployment is to increase as the Prime Minister has said, what are the alternatives available to these young people?

Senator BISHOP - Senator Carrickknows that general economic information has been given by Mr Whitlam and by Senator Murphy in this Senate. They have explained to the Senate that the ratio of unemployment in Australia is not unusual in the Western world. They have pointed to countries with similar economies to ours whose rates of unemployment are much higher, even double and treble that of Australia. They have pointed to the remedies which this Labor Government has taken and it is not for me to repeat what has been stated by Senator Murphy or the Prime Minister.

Senator Carrick - They have said nothing.

Senator BISHOP - Of course they have said something. They stated what we have done as part of our economic policy to stop inflation. We have applied correctives when irregularities have occurred in relation to tariffs, in relation to the motor car industry, and so on. In addition, as I explained earlier, when we came to office we became the first Government to establish a correct manpower policy and to gear immigration to manpower policies.

Senator Carrick - You caused unemployment.

Senator BISHOP -OK, we accept. Mr Clyde Cameron- I have made the same statement in this House- assessed that there would be rising unemployment because of the world problem of inflation.

Senator Carrick - Because you created it.

Senator BISHOP -Created it? The honourable senator knows as well as I do that it is a characteristic of the western world.

Senator Carrick

Senator BISHOP -Of course it is. What was the position when the Opposition was in power and introduced the various horror Budgets? It never cared about retraining. It cared nothing about placing young people in student jobs and educating them for technological change. Did it provide a scheme like the National Employment and Training Scheme? No, it did not. Did it set up a careers information centre in all the States? No, it did not. Did it increase the number of apprenticeships within the government services? No, it did not. We have done so.

Senator Carrick - Where are the jobs now?

Senator BISHOP -I am about to tell the honourable senator. The Government is doing whatever it can to provide avenues of employment in its own services. It is attempting to take as many school leavers as possible into the government services. If the Government carried out the policy that was put forward by the Leader of the Opposition yesterday it would have to make cuts throughout the whole range of government departments of up to 8 per cent. For example, at a time when people want telephone services, if the Government did what the Opposition wanted and cut expenditure by 8 per cent I would have to sack 1,000 people from the Post Office and that would add to the unemployment problem. Whatever is possible and practical within the organisation that we have we are trying to do. We are attempting to remedy a situation which is not unique to Australia. I have strong memories of all the bungling of the Opposition while it was in power without any attempt being made to establish training schemes, retraining schemes or structural assistance policies. Did the Opposition provide those things? Of course not. When a man got the sack he was finished under the Opposition's policies. The argument no doubt will be sustained but the facts are, as Senator Murphy has said more than once, that if the Opposition had played a constructive role in this Parliament from the time that we became the Government half of the troubles we have now would not be with us.

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