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Wednesday, 4 June 2008
Page: 4474

Mr BILLSON (4:25 PM) —Madam Deputy Speaker, thank you for your forbearance. The Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Employment Entry Payment) Bill 2008 is a fascinating piece of legislation. My friend and parliamentary colleague the member for Boothby could no doubt elucidate in a more erudite way than I on what the bill is actually about. I thank the clerks for passing me some material that I can work with. The employment entry payment, which I understand was available primarily for disability support recipients—and please jump in any time, colleagues, if I am misunderstanding the nature of the payment—was introduced some time ago to assist with the costs of taking up employment. That is probably why it was called the employment entry payment. It has been there since 1989. It was designed to give particular assistance to those who were experiencing some barriers to gaining employment, such as those with special employment circumstances. You will have seen some, I suppose, evolution of the idea through the Howard government years, with the training credit accounts and other support that has been available. I particularly liked the measure that saw our apprentices able to be assisted with their tools. Those tool vouchers have been extremely well supported.

We have before us today a bill that I believe the government is advancing to give effect to a budget decision to axe the employment entry payment, which according to the government will save a little under $61 million over five years. This bill is something that I am sure the member for Boothby would have a lot more to say about than I do. I wonder whether it might be appropriate if, with the consent of my colleague across the table, I defer for a moment and invite the member for Boothby to add his comments. I seek the indulgence of the House to invite my colleague to conclude these remarks if that would be appropriate.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms AE Burke)—I thank very much the member for Dunkley for assisting the smooth procedures of the House.

Mr Fitzgibbon —Madam Deputy Speaker, I intend to be extremely generous and allow this transition to occur. While I am on my feet, I am trying to think of a precedent for this. In my 12 years in this place, I do not recall this happening. I will allow it to happen on this occasion, but I do so without prejudice and indicate to the opposition, that it is not a practice we would be looking to tolerate in the future.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —I thank the minister.

Mr Billson —I thank the Minister for Defence and suggest the parallel of an AFL footballer being awarded a free kick but not being able to take it and instead passing the ball to the colleague nearest to the point of play.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —I thank the member for Dunkley and call the member for Boothby, so we can proceed smoothly with the business of the House before us.