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Thursday, 21 November 1974
Page: 2628

Senator CARRICK - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for

Labor and Immigration and it refers to the answer given by the Minister yesterday to my question as to what precise advice the Government would give to the 230,000 school and college leavers looking for a job in the face of predicted chronic unemployment of the order of 300,000 to 400,000 people for at least the next 7 months. I remind the Minister of his claim that 2 main avenues- the National Employment and Training Scheme and employment in the Commonwealth Public Service- would provide significant opportunities for the employment of such persons. Against that answer I ask: How many persons are receiving benefits under the NEAT scheme? Is it not a fact that the number is measured in hundreds and not tens of thousands? Will not the Government's intention to absorb new people into the Public Service affect some 1,450 additional persons and not tens of thousands? If these are the facts I ask again: Is the dole the only prospect for a quarter of a million Australians? If not, and if unemployment is to rise as all Government Ministers say it will, what will happen to the unemployed in the many months ahead? Specifically, what will be their source of sustenance other than the dole?

Senator BISHOP - I will answer the last part of the honourable senator's question first. Under a Labor Government people who are unemployed can be assured that they will receive reasonable payments. As Senator Wheeldon mentioned yesterday, before this Government came to office there had been no proper relationship between such payments and the minimum wage. This Government has made sure that anybody who is sick or unemployed will receive reasonable compensation. As I mentioned yesterday, as a result of the Government's tariff cuts- which it freely admits were designed to stop inflation- various schemes were set up and are now operating. In addition, some adjustments are being made to those tariff cuts in accordance with the reaction to them.

Yesterday I did not say that the National Employment and Training scheme and the absorption of certain people into the Public Service were the main avenues of remedy for the unemployment situation. I said they were some of the measures which could be taken. The clear facts are that no government has made a quicker response to the situation than this Government has made. I mentioned structural adjustment payments and new location payments which have been made.

Senator Carrick - And unemployment is still rising.

Senator BISHOP -I wish that the honourable senator would let me answer the question. Like Senator Webster, he is very good at continually interrupting people who want to answer his questions. If he is not satisfied with the answer he can try again. I repeat that the various schemes which the Minister for Labor and Immigration has proposed and which the Government has endorsed are structural adjustment payments, the new location payments which have now been approved, and the Regional Employment Development scheme which is now in operation and, as was mentioned this morning, Mr Clyde Cameron has announced that an additional 90 applications for projects have been approved. The Government has also set up the National Employment and Training Scheme and the career centres which I have mentioned. The Government has decided to take more apprentices into the the Public Service than the previous Government took. More people will be employed in Mr Clyde Cameron's Department to cope with these new positions. The Government has also lifted the ceiling on the Public Service to provide opportunities for young people.

Let us look at the policies of the Opposition. On one hand it says 'Give us more' and on the other hand it says 'Cut Government expenditure'. As I said yesterday, if as PostmasterGeneral I were to carry out the policies of the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Snedden, and cut the expenditure of the Post Office by 8 per cent I would have to sack about 1,000 people from the Post Office, and they would become unemployed. I replied yesterday to Senator Carrick in the same manner as Senator Murphy, Mr Whitlam and Dr J. F. Cairns have replied this morning. Unemployment is a characteristic of the sort of economy we have.

Senator Webster - You have created unemployment.

Senator BISHOP - Has the honourable senator forgotten the horror Budgets of his Government. In 1956 and 1960 did his Government care when it stopped manufacturing in all the States? Did it care when it stopped the spare parts industry? What he says is rubbish. He ought to know because he says that he is running a furniture factory. Here is a man who is running a joinery factory. He is sitting in the Parliament in a red seat and he says he is running that factory. He is complaining because the Labor Government and the unions gave his workers too much money. He says that is the fact. Of course it is. No government in Australia has taken more positive steps than this Government has taken, but it has the added circumstance of a general inflationary position which applies to Australia as well as to every country in the Western world. If the Government had more co-operation from the Opposition it would be able to cope with these problems better than it is doing today.

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