Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (9 April) . . Page.. 854 ..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
The most recent figures show that 5 per cent of employed people want to work more hours. The majority of these were women, and more than a third were under 25 years of age. The fact that these statistics are collected at all shows there has been a shift in how unemployment is viewed, but underemployment figures are not as widely used or circulated as standard labour force statistics.
If we are to take a long term view of employment, and its social and economic impact, we need to more effectively use the statistics available outside the view provided by the labour force survey and work towards incorporating figures of underemployment into monthly statistics.
Mr Deputy Speaker, these are pressing and continuing issues and a forward-thinking government with genuinely helpful social and economic policies that wants to show a commitment to seriously tackle unemployment and underemployment must take a broader view of our labour force.
MR HUMPHRIES (Leader of the Opposition) (4.54): Mr Deputy Speaker, today Ms Gallagher has raised as a matter of public importance an issue to do with the way in which Australia, including the ACT, examines and records the level of unemployment or employment which is experienced in our community. She has argued, if I followed properly the case that she put to the Assembly today, that the methods of collection of labour force statistics used at the present time by the Australia Bureau of Statistics do not properly record in an appropriate way the number of people who are underemployed. I think it is Ms Gallagher's argument that they should in some cases be either recorded as being unemployed or there should be a category of underemployment created so that the extent of people's desire for more work can be properly reflected in the figures.
At the moment I suppose it is true to say that one is either employed or one is unemployed, although you can be employed part time or employed full time. I understood Ms Gallagher to be arguing that people employed part time but wanting more employment should be recorded in some way in the labour force statistics.
Ms Gallagher presented a fairly technical argument, and I cannot comment on whether or not the issues she raised are accurate, whether she makes fair comment or not. It sounds to me as if she has made a reasonable point but, in the absence of an analysis of the information that she presents, I am not able to comment.
It may be, Mr Deputy Speaker, that this is a matter which we should return to by way of a motion before the Assembly, so that all of us can look at the evidence relating to the problems that Ms Gallagher has raised. It would be possible then to construct an argument and perhaps mount a case to the federal government on behalf of this territory-maybe we could get other territories and states to do the same thing-for a change in the way information is collected.
I, of course, would be reluctant to accept an argument that said that part-time employment equated with underemployment. I don't think that is what Ms Gallagher was saying. I am certainly aware, as I am sure we all are, of many people in the community who are part time employed, not because they have no choice and prefer to be full time employed but because that suits their arrangements, their lifestyle and their