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Thursday, 25 June 1998
Page: 5428

Mr LATHAM —My question is also to the Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs. Minister, do you recall the coalition's 1996 youth policy commitment that `a Howard government will meet frequently with organisations such as the peak youth community sector body, the Australian Youth Policy and Action Coalition'? Minister, why did you break this promise by failing to meet even once with AYPAC and then deciding to abolish its funding? Having failed hopelessly on youth policy, is this not just a case of the government now trying to silence its critics?

Dr KEMP (Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs;Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) —Both in opposition and in government, I have met on a number of occasions with that particular organisation. But let me just say that the government had a three-year contract with AYPAC, and that three-year contract has expired. The government reviewed whether it was getting value out of that contract because the government has, of course, put in place an outstanding range of policies for young people. We have put in place policies for literacy and numeracy and the new national apprenticeship system, and we have expanded opportunities for young people to undertake vocational education in school. All of those outstanding policies were put in place—

Mr Beazley —Mr Speaker, on a point of order: the minister was asked a very specific question relating to the funding arrangements and the absence of meetings with this organisation. He was asked for nothing else. This minister, who gets plenty of time in question time in this place to express his views, ought to be told to make his answers relevant.

Mr SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition will not debate the issue. There is a standing order with respect to relevance. With respect to the rest of the Leader of the Opposition's intervention, the minister is responding to the question, but I suggest he takes note of its particularity. I call the minister.

Dr KEMP —Young people around Australia these days are seeking increasingly to speak directly to government. They do not believe that a body with an executive of five people can adequately represent their concerns. The government has determined that the 2.7 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 should have the opportunity to nominate directly to a national youth round table. That round table will give every young Australian in regional and rural Australia and in metropolitan Australia the chance to be nominated and to talk directly with the government. I am pleased to say that the government's announcement has been welcomed by young people around Australia.

Mr SPEAKER —I call the honourable member for Robertson.