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Thursday, 18 October 1984
Page: 2000


Senator HARRADINE(5.23) —I wish to speak very briefly on the Public Service Board report. It is quite coincidental that this report has come down the very day that we have dealt with a matter of public importance-the unfair and unnecessary burden of youth unemployment. On page 158 of the Public Service Board's report we see that the youth percentage of the total Australian Public Service work force reached an all time low of 6.7 per cent in 1983. I have had a look at the previous figures and the youth percentage of the total Public Service work force in 1966 was 22.2 per cent. It fell to 12.2 per cent in 1974 and now it has fallen to an all time low of 6.7 per cent in 1983. That is nothing less than disgraceful. There are plenty of statistics in this report, but it does not reveal the full statistics. I have had to look for some of them and I referred to a review conducted by the Bureau of Labour Market Research last year entitled 'Youth Wages, Employment and the Labour Force'. The remarks I am about to make apply to both the present Government and previous governments. This review found that the public sector employment increased by 29 per cent between 1971 and 1981, compared with a private sector employment growth of only 8 per cent, and currently public sector employment accounts for about 30 per cent of total employment. However, there is evidence that 15 to 20-year-olds not only have failed to share in the growth of public sector employment but also have experienced a substantial absolute decline.

In a subsequent report in May of this year, the Bureau noted:

From a situation where teenagers comprised three quarters of all appointments to base grade positions in 1966, they have suffered quite significant falls such that by 1982 they comprised only about one quarter of all Clerk Class I appointments, one half of clerical assistant grade I appointments and 40 per cent of typist appointments.

The trend during 1983 showed a further decline. Whereas youth comprised 28.2 per cent of new appointments to the Australian Public Service in 1981, this fell to 26.5 per cent in 1982 and to 23.8 per cent in 1983. As I have said, the decline in youth appointments to the Public Service has a corresponding effect on the youth percentage of the total APS work force, and this fell from 22.2 per cent in 1966 to 12.2 per cent in 1974 and to 6.7 per cent in 1983. It might be said that this is because of the professionalisation of the Public Service. That is not so. The Bureau of Labour Market Research addressed that point and shot it down in flames.

The Bureau of Labour Market Research, in its report 'Teenage Employment in the Public Sector-Where have all the Jobs gone?' also noted:

If the age structure of the public sector employment in 1981 had been the same as in 1971 there would have been an additional 50,000 teenagers employed in the public sector in 1981.

Since 1981 the Australian Public Service alone has proportionately reduced its youth recruitment by 5,080 compared with 1971 percentages-that is, per annum. Since the Australian Public Service presently comprises one quarter of the total public sector, it is estimated that the youth share of total public sector recruitment in the last two years has been reduced by approximately 20,000 youths. Added to the 50,000 jobs already lost between 1971 and 1981, this totals 70,000 jobs for youth, or almost one half of the 154,000 Australian teenagers currently unemployed. The Bureau of Labour Market Research report concluded:

If youth are unable to maintain their share of employment within expanding sectors of the economy, their employment prospects will be bleak.

I request the Government to ask the Public Service Board to desist from its policy of blatant discrimination against youth in permanent Public Service appointments.

Question resolved in the affirmative.