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Wednesday, 10 September 2003
Page: 19708

Ms PANOPOULOS (3:42 PM) —My question is addressed to be Minister for Employment Services. Would the minister inform the House how Work for the Dole participants are assisting local communities, particularly those affected by natural disasters?

Mr BROUGH (Minister for Employment Services) —I thank the member for Indi for her question and for her obvious concern not only for the welfare of the unemployed but particularly for those who were devastated by the natural disasters in her own area. The government expanded its Work for the Dole program to take into account some of the tragedies that have occurred around Australia in recent years. Some examples include Yeppoon in North Queensland where unemployed people assisted as part of a CAG—a community action group—team to help clean up after floods. They got in quickly to assist their fellow Australians at a time of difficulty and to do something positive for themselves.

Here in Canberra and the surrounds, and in Queanbeyan, as the member for Eden-Monaro would no doubt be well aware, unemployed Australians played a very important role after the firestorms in assisting those families affected during that tragic time. Also, up at Wowan, which is 100 kilometres west of Rocky, when Cyclone Betty came through in February this year, once again unemployed Australians, using the benefit of the Work for the Dole program, and community work coordinators were able to make a positive contribution. Tremendous work was done in the Indi electorate after the fires, and I have informed the House before of that work, but it is worth noting what the Border Mail said in its editorial. It said that the Work for the Dole project has been a tangible exercise in realistic bushfire recovery work.

The government is very much committed to this broader program of not only helping our communities but also providing this assistance when nature does its worst in our communities. I remind everybody that the Prime Minister's Work for the Dole awards are about to open for nominations again as of next week. I know that the member for Franklin has in the past commented favourably upon the communities and thanked them for the work they have done by putting them up. I thank him for that. I say to other members of the opposition and to all members of this House: take the opportunity to show your thanks to those people who, in being unemployed, are less fortunate than ourselves at the moment for the fine work that they are doing in their communities and recommend them for a Prime Minister's Work for the Dole Achievement Award—show them that you care.

Mr Howard —Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.