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Thursday, 5 May 1994
Page: 337


Senator PATTERSON (3.12 p.m.) —I found reading the white paper amazing. I wonder what it holds for young people; older people who have been unemployed for a long time; women; and others who are searching for work. I think back to the time I left school. I had not completed high school and I trained as a secretary. I was accused of stealing two shillings out of the petty cash tin where I worked. I went home to my mother and said, `I have been blamed for stealing two shillings out of the petty cash tin.' My mother said, `Leave the job if they don't trust you.' So I left the job and four days later I had another job.

  When I was growing up it was possible to get jobs. I worked in small business and for organisations. I had lots of jobs until I went back to school. The young students sitting in the gallery today do not have the prospects I had as a young person. Why not? This government has run Australia into debt. It has put us through the worst recession we have had in 50 years. The job prospects for those young people are negligible and will remain that way—and the white paper has done nothing to change that. The white paper does not promise them real jobs. It promises them a subsidised job, a constant training wage, some part-time work or that they will be in and out of training. It is not promising them a future or a long term career. It promises them more public servants and looking down the barrel of further unemployment.

  Senator Gareth Evans said here today that there would still be five per cent unemployment in the year 2000—but the government was not sure of the exact year. I do not know what hope that gives to young people and the long-term unemployed or for those searching for work. This is not the answer. We have had the hype of One Nation and Investing in the Nation and, for a couple of days, we will have the hype of this white paper, whatever it is called. It was supposed to have a title of `full employment' but the government had to design a new name because it was not about full employment. It was called Working Nation. I do not know how these names are dreamt up but I think it will be an abomination for Australia, with high-flying programs that fall in a heap. We heard some interesting information on the Four Corners program on Monday night. The government has not cleared that up or the sorts of fraud going on in DEET. Yet the government will pour more money into these programs which probably will not have the sorts of checks and balances necessary to stop the sorts of fraud we have seen.

  It is not about real jobs. This is the disgusting thing about this paper. It is not about creating real jobs; about supporting small business; about giving encouragement to small business to create jobs—and that is where the lasting jobs come from that give people a sense of career and an opportunity to develop skills. That is what we need to be doing; not throwing $6.5 billion on programs that are not going to really create jobs for people. One of the saddest things is that, again, we will see the hype and all the information that is spread about. People will be given false hope that they will get jobs. They will be churning through programs and parked in programs.

  Senator Short quite clearly pointed out in his question that Australia really needs five per cent growth over the next six years—that has not been achieved in consecutive years since the Labor Party has been in government—for the government to achieve the figures that it says it will achieve. How in the heck it thinks it will do that with the sorts of imposts that are currently on business I will never know—and I do not think business knows either. The government should have turned around and looked at the issues that should have been addressed: to get impost off business, to get taxes off business, and to get off the back of businesses to allow them to employ young people and older long-term unemployed people and to give them real jobs and real opportunities, rather than these fake jobs and the fudging of the figures.

  We will see, of course, a nice fudging of the figures. People will be on programs. They will be off the unemployment benefits list. It will look as though the unemployment rate is going down; but people in the community will know that the rate is not going down. They will know the hurt of long-term unemployment. It will look as though the unemployment rate is going down. The unemployment figures will be down, the government will call an election and, wacky-do, the figures will go up straight afterwards. It is the most cynical thing that has ever happened to Australia. It is probably not the most cynical thing; it is as cynical as One Nation. It is just as cynical as the Investing in the Nation statement and the Working Nation statement.

  This paper will have no effect on real jobs. The young people here today, and those young people searching for jobs, will not have the sorts of opportunities that I had as a young person. The government ought to hang its head in shame that, after 11 years, those young people do not have the hope and the opportunities that we had when we were young. It is disgraceful and abhorrent. This statement will go the way of all the other statements, and it will be seen for what it is worth within a very short few months.