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Monday, 30 March 1998
Page: 1848


Miss JACKIE KELLY —My question is addressed to the Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs. The minister would be aware of the very successful work for the dole projects between Byron Bay and Sydney that the 1998 pollie peddle visited in the last two weeks. Would the minister inform the House of the number of young people who have participated in work for the dole projects and whether work for the dole is meeting its participant target numbers? What is the government's response to recent comments that have been made regarding work for the dole?


Dr KEMP (Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs;Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) —I thank the member for Lindsay for her question. I am aware of the highly successful project run by Mission Australia in her electorate at Penrith which is upgrading the Nepean River regatta area in preparation for the Sydney Olympic Games. It is a measure of how little the opposition understands work for the dole that the Leader of the Opposition is quoted as saying, `I'm afraid to say, at the end of the day, there is not one job in it.'

The project manager for the Penrith regatta project has informed the government that some 30—repeat 30—participants in this project have already left to get jobs or to pursue further education or training. Work for the dole has been a resounding success. Many of the young people that I have met on work for the dole projects say that work for the dole is the best thing that has happened to them for a long time. A number that I have spoken to have wanted to extend the time they spend on a work for the dole project each week.

We are now four months into the work for the dole pilot projects and nearly 5,000 young Australians have already taken up the opportunity to participate in work for the dole. They have welcomed the chance to put something back into their local communities. Already 144 of the 179 projects—that is 80 per cent of the projects—have commenced and this is well ahead of target.

I am aware of comments, however, over the weekend by the member for Batman, who described work for the dole as a sham. He is one of the policy dinosaurs in Jurassic Park over there that the member for Werriwa has been forced to speak out against. Of course, the Leader of the Opposition has made it absolutely clear, and every member of this House should be absolutely clear, that if the Labor Party were to get into office they would abolish work for the dole, because they do not believe in communities and young people working together. They have no idea. There is a policy vacuum there on the dole.

In fact the only person who has put forward an idea for unemployed people in recent times has been one Mark Latham, the member for Werriwa, whose idea was that unemployed people should be asked to pay back their dole. That is his idea. The member for Werriwa has obviously been appalled by the policy vacuum that he has witnessed in the leadership group on the other side of the House. He has seen these dinosaurs up here with not a single positive idea about how to help unemployed people in this country and he has felt compelled to speak out.

He is not interested in his shadow portfolio. If you flip through the index to the book, and you read it, there is not much on education there. There is very little on education and training. Apprenticeships do not crack a mention. By careful study I managed to find the word `literacy' once. He is not interested in the shadow portfolio for education; he is interested in the leadership, and this is his bid. He is very young and he is very restless. He is very restless and he is fed up with that vacuum on the other side of the House. The weak Leader of the Opposition should pull him into line and put forward some ideas on account of the Labor Party itself.