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Monday, 10 February 1997
Page: 479

Mr MARTIN FERGUSON —My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer to yesterday's scanty announcement of a work for the dole scheme for young people. Twenty-four hours later, has the Prime Minister been able to fill out the details? Will significant extra funding be available for local councils and community groups for capital and administrative works? Is extra money available for workers compensation, superannuation or supervision? Will the young people working two days a week be asked to share gum boots and safety gear while they paint rocks?

Government members interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —Order! Members on my right!

Mr MARTIN FERGUSON —Does the Prime Minister claim two days on and five days off will provide new skills, training, discipline of work and the social skills and understanding of teamwork to help young people back into real jobs?

Government members interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —Order! Members on my right!

Mr HOWARD —I think that particular question really says it all about your contempt for the people you once claimed to represent. That is what it shows. Scratch a former President of the ACTU and you find an underlying contempt for the battlers of Australia. For too long, for 13 years, you regarded yourself as part of the governing elite of this nation and you lost touch with those people, and that is why they treated you with such dispatch in March of last year.

The answer to your question is that, as the days and weeks go by, we will spell out more details of the scheme, but all of the essential details are already there. I can assure the member for Batman, but, more importantly, let me assure the people in the community who are interested in and willing to support this scheme—and it is very interesting, as much as it may have angered those who sit opposite—that the general community response to this proposal is very positive. The community, unlike the out-of-touch, disconnected members of the Labor Party, understands the potential this scheme has to instil the value of work experience.

Mr Bevis interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —I warn the member for Brisbane!

Mr HOWARD —They understand the potential this scheme has to bring people into contact with the labour market, the potential this scheme has to break the cycle of despondency. It will disappoint the member for Batman to hear me say that people are not going to be exposed so far as such things as workers compensation are concerned. It is insulting, as you ought to know, and as I think they will know of you, to infer that there is nothing better for people who have been out of work for longer than six months to do than paint rocks. That is your mentality. It is not ours and it is not their expectation.