Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 25 February 1987
Page: 596

Senator HARRADINE —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Public Service Industrial Matters. It refers to the fact that in the last year in which figures were available, 1985, there was an increase of 3,204 in the number of public servants, whereas the Government reduced the number of youth in permanent Public Service jobs by 913. Will the Minister give to the Senate the total figures for 1986 of public servants employed and the number of young people under 21 who are in Public Service jobs?

Senator WALSH —When the 1986 figures are available I will make them available to the public. This is an old hobby horse of Senator Harradine's in which he shows that he is either innumerate or a mountebank. The plain fact is that when the rate of growth slows down, as it has in recent years, the number of people below the 21 age group will inevitably decline because those who were 16 five years ago are now 21. If we stop recruiting altogether for five years, there will be nobody in the Public Service under 21. I would have thought that was an arithmetic fact that most people should be able to understand. Either Senator Harradine is incapable of understanding it or for his own political reasons he insists on running this campaign, alleging that there is discrimination against young people in Public Service recruitment.

Senator Lewis —He is not doing too badly with it.

Senator WALSH —What was that?

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Walsh, I suggest that you ignore the interjections and address the Chair.

Senator WALSH —Certainly, Mr President. Public Service recruitment is determined according to the merit of the applicants, so far as it can be accurately assessed, and there is no discrimination against anybody.

Senator HARRADINE —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question, following the Minister's response. Will the Minister explain why in 1980 there were 127,173 officers in total and in 1986 there were 145,433, whereas the number of youth employees totalled 9,291 in 1980 and, last year, 8,105? Is the Minister saying that the Public Service Board figures are not available and that it does not know how many public servants there were as at 12 December 1986?

Senator WALSH —I did explain-I think most members of the Opposition understood-that when recruiting slows down, other things being equal, the number of people under 21 will decline. I would have thought that even Senator Harradine would understand that. I am sure he can understand it; this is just his latest political stunt.

Senator Harradine —You are discriminating against youth; that is what you are doing in your own Department.

Senator WALSH —Even Senator Harradine should be able to understand this. He is a friend of the tax dodgers, a protector of tax evaders-

Senator Harradine —The Minister is discriminating against youth; that is what he is doing.

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Harradine, you have already asked a supplementary question and I call you to order.

Senator WALSH —He apparently wants to get himself suspended so that his stunt will be better advertised. I would have thought that even somebody who could not remember whether or not he was a member of the National Civic Council--

Senator Harradine —Every one of the departments is discriminating against youth. Employ a few more youth.

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Harradine, you are consistently interjecting. You have had the privilege of asking a supplementary question. I ask that you cease interjecting and allow the Minister to answer the question.

Senator WALSH —Mr President, I would have thought that even somebody who told the National Executive of the Australian Labor Party that he could not remember whether or not he was a member of the NCC should be able--

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Walsh, I suggest that you answer the question you were asked.

Senator WALSH —I am. He should be able to understand that, if recruitment ceases entirely and there is nobody under 16 in the Public Service, in five years time there will be nobody under 21.

Senator Lewis —We get that.

Senator WALSH —I am sure Senator Lewis and just about all of his colleagues understand that. Likewise, other things being equal, when the rate of recruitment slows down the proportion of people under 21 will also decline.