March 26th 2005

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: EDITORIAL: Indonesian President in Australia

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Behind the skills shortage in the not-so-clever country

FOREIGN TRADE: The perils of bilateral trade agreements

SCHOOLS: Teacher unions enforcing the gender agenda

SPECIAL FEATURE: Murder and insurrection: Lance Sharkey in Singapore

BIOETHICS: UN backs ban on human cloning

OPINION: Cutting the abortion rate - the political options

THINKERS: Philosopher of greed: Ayn Rand

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Dicing with our future / China rampant / Double standards?

INTERNATIONAL LAW: Behind the Timor Sea Treaty dispute

HONG KONG: China's man in Hong Kong quits

ASIA: Australia has role in great power contest

PAKISTAN: What role should Islam play in Pakistan?

Unemployment only five per cent? (letter)

How can we save our schools? (letter)

Urban riots a 'wake-up call' (letter)

BOOKS: FEWER: How the new demography of depopulation will shape our future

BOOKS: NELSON'S PURSE, by Martyn Downer

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Unemployment only five per cent? (letter)

by Alan Barron

News Weekly, March 26, 2005

In the article, "American-style workplace relations for Australia?" (News Weekly, March 12, 2005), the writer is of the opinion that unemployment in this country is "low". ("With record low industrial disputation in Australia and low unemployment ... ")

The latest "low" unemployment figure cited by the government as a vindication of its current monetary and fiscal policies is misleading.

Unemployment is a much bigger problem than the ludicrously low official figure of just over five per cent would suggest. The official unemployment figures are in fact a gigantic cover-up. The present definition of "employed person" is a person who works more than one hour per week. Is this being realistic?

Marcus l'Estrange, a writer and former CES worker, says the official figures are misleading and that the real unemployment figures is over three times the official rate - i.e., 16 per cent.

His conclusions concur with a recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report which reveals that 1.8 million Australian workers who want to work, have no jobs. This is a far cry from the official unemployed figure of just under 600,000.

400,000 jobs have been lost and exported overseas since tariffs were slashed, and this has been keenly felt in my home town of Geelong - especially in the textiles, footwear, clothing and automotive industries.

I recently went for jobs at Aldi Supermarkets and Bunnings Warehouse. In the former, I was one of over 20,000 people to apply, and in the latter case one of 5,000 plus to apply. I'm glad unemployment rates are "low" - goodness knows how many would have applied if rates had been "high"!

Unemployment is a serious social problem in this country. It will never be adequately addressed while governments continue to fudge the figures and pretend there is not a pressing problem in our midst.

News Weekly should not acquiesce in this grand deception. A return to an accurate reporting of unemployment figures would force an acknowledgment of the fact that Australia has a monumental problem on its hands which is in need of urgent action.

Alan Barron,
Grovedale, Vic

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