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Monday, 25 March 1985
Page: 694

Senator TATE —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Youth Affairs. Does the Minister recall the survey of young Australians published in July 1984 which showed that 61 per cent of young Australians supported the idea of forging a link between community support for the unemployed and community service by the unemployed? Will the Government give consideration to creating a service for Australia scheme which would require several hours of community work in return for community support of those not in the paid work force and receiving unemployment benefits?

Senator BUTTON —I am familiar with the survey to which Senator Tate refers. It is an interesting result from the persons who were surveyed in the 15 to 19-year old age group. I have no doubt that, if the survey were conducted amongst a much older age group, the results would be even more in favour of people performing some community service for the receipt of unemployment benefits. Senator Tate asked me whether the Government would consider creating what he calls a 'service for Australia scheme' requiring several hours of community work in return for community support. Of course, the Government will consider that in the context of considering a wide range of issues concerning youth unemployment. I must say, with the greatest of respect to Senator Tate, the author of this question, that there are always very glib answers and symbolic solutions provided by the relatively ill-informed in this debate--

Senator Walters —You are not suggesting Senator Tate is one of those?

Senator BUTTON —Many of them emanate from the Opposition, particularly from people such as Senator Walters, who no doubt has half-a-dozen up her sleeve. The point is that the Government currently is conducting a wide ranging study of these problems. The sorts of matters which Senator Tate suggested in his proposed service for Australia scheme will be examined in the course of that consideration.

Senator Lewis —A good policy for the run-up to the next election, I suppose.

Senator BUTTON —Senator Lewis rightly reminds me that there will be another election in three years' time. I assure Senator Lewis and anybody else who is concerned about the merits of this matter, as distinct from political venality, that the Government will see that the issue is dealt with as quickly as possible. I believe that will be in the course of this financial year.