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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3401

Senator HARRADINE(5.28) —That is an absolute disgrace. The Minister for Finance (Senator Walsh) is trying to gloss over the facts. I am not going to get involved in the statements that he has made because they are a disgrace. We are talking about the question of Public Service appointment procedures in this Committee. We are talking about procedures which have been constant over some years, particularly what has happened over last year, 1984-85. The Minister talks about persons of 28 years and over entering the lower grades and married women in the Public Service. Nothing has changed at all since last year in Public Service appointment procedures and yet there has been a decline of 913 permanent Public Service jobs for young people. It is the largest decline for a number of years. Yet at the same time there has been a substantial increase in the number of Federal permanent public servants, to the extent of 3,204. I go back to the relevant facts. The Minister talked about 1966 and then--

Senator Walsh —You talked about 1966.

Senator HARRADINE —I referred briefly to 1966, and then I zeroed in on the area of the Minister's responsibility and not what happened in 1966. He is the Minister assisting the Prime Minister in this field. It is the Minister's responsibility, and he has been responsible for saying to this chamber this afternoon that this decline took place because of the growing trend of young people to stay at school longer and because the number of youth in the work force as a whole has declined. That is absolutely untrue. For the 15 to 20 years inclusive age bracket-I repeat the figures-there were 975,500 in 1984 and 983,500 in 1985. Those figures show an increase, if the Minister did not know, not a decrease. In the 15 to 19 years age group-which the Minister mentioned and which is not relevant because the Public Service figures to this year have been dealing with the 15 to 20 years inclusive age group-there has been an increase in the general work force. By `work force' I am talking about those who are employed and those who are unemployed. In the 15 to 19 years age group the figures are: 763,900 in 1984 and 775,000 in 1985.

I refer to what was said in the 1983-84 report of the Public Service Board. That document warned the Government-that is the document before the one that was tabled in the Parliament last week-that unless there was `explicit policy intervention' the rate of youth employment in the Public Service would decline. It is fair for me to raise this matter in the Committee while we are talking about appointment procedures. It is fair for me to ask: What has the Government done about it? Since we have not had any logical explanation for the decline in the numbers of youth in the Public Service to an all-time low, the Government ought to respond to the point made by the Public Service Board in its report before this one that, unless there is explicit policy intervention, this decline will continue. My question is: Will it continue; if so, how then does the Government square that continuance of discrimination against youth with its public policy on the issue?