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Monday, 4 May 1987
Page: 2488

Mr BLUNT —My question is to the Prime Minister, and it is about symmetry of vision. Recently, while in Victoria, you stated your belief that the work test for the unemployment benefit needed to be tightened. You also echoed comments made by the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce, Senator Button, that up to 60,000 jobs remained unfilled, which cast doubt over the effective application of the work test. How do you reconcile these comments with those of your Minister for Social Security who has said on numerous occasions that moves to tighten the administration of the unemployment benefit have been very effective? Are you aware that an agreement between the Minister for Social Security and the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association renders ineffective your Government's measures to combat dole fraud and abuse? As you and your Minister for Social Security hold divergent views on the subject, which is correct, and how much longer do we have to put up with inadequate policies and sloppy administration?

Mr HAWKE —The most direct answer to the question asked by the honourable member for Richmond as to how long one has to put up with inadequate policies in this country in terms of cracking down on welfare fraud is, simply, for as long as the honourable member and those around him oppose the legislation of this Government to bring in an identity card. That is the complete answer to the latter part of the question. So far as the first part of the question is concerned, I make two points: Under this Minister for Social Security more has to be done to tighten the administration of benefits in this area than has ever been done before, and he is properly to be congratulated. Secondly, further work is being done in this area. Under this Government more will have been done to ensure that benefits are not claimed by those not entitled to them. We will continue to ensure that the work is done at both ends of the spectrum; that those who should be taking jobs if they are available will be put in a position where they must take them. We will also by the continuation of our legislation be ensuring that those at the top end of the wealth and income scale will not be dipping into our social welfare expenditures. There will be total symmetry under the administration of this Government. I repeat that the answer to the honourable member's question `How long do we have to put up with an inadequate system?' is: So long as members opposite have got the courage and the decency to support the Australia Card.

Madam SPEAKER —For future reference, I advise the honourable member for Richmond that questions should be phrased in the third person.