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Friday, 1 May 1987
Page: 2188

Senator JONES —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations aware of the plight of unemployed youth in Queensland as highlighted by the latest figures produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics? Is the Minister aware that the youth unemployment rate for 15- to -19-year old men and women in Queensland in March 1987 was 27.9 per cent, the highest for any mainland State? Do the figures show the Australian average of 23.4 per cent is being forced up by the inept efforts of the Bjelke-Petersen Government? Further, is it a fact that in the year to 1986 no less than 3,400 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 fled Queensland in a bid to find jobs interstate? Is it also a fact that Queensland now accounts for 19.7 per cent of unemployment, as at March 1987?

Senator WALSH —It is a fact that something like 3,400 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 fled from Queensland last year. They voted with their feet and decided to escape the Bjelke-Petersen regime. Whether that was entirely due to the fact that the Bjelke-Petersen regime has, with the exception of Tasmania, the highest rate of youth unemployment of any State or whether they were also fleeing from other unsavoury aspects of the Bjelke-Petersen regime is a matter for judgment, but they certainly did flee. In March 1983, when this Government was first elected, the unemployment rate for youth, defined as 15- to 19-year-olds who were looking for full time work, was 26.9 per cent. That has fallen very considerably-though not as much as we would have liked it to have fallen-to 23.4 per cent. During the same period, however, the unemployment rate for the same group in Queensland went from 21.2 per cent to 27.9 per cent-an increase of almost 7 percentage points in the unemployment rate for that group of young people in Queensland. At present, only Tasmania has a higher rate of youth unemployment than Queensland.

Let me run quickly through the rates for the States: From March 1983 to March 1987-in other words, the period during which this Government has been in office-in New South Wales the youth unemployment rate fell from almost 29 per cent to 24 per cent; in Victoria, from just over 28 per cent to 19 1/2 per cent; in South Australia, from just over 30 per cent to just over 23 per cent; and, in Western Australia, from just over 23 per cent to 21.7 per cent. However, in Queensland the figure jumped from 21.2 per cent to 27.9 per cent and in Tasmania it jumped from 26.4 per cent to 29.1 per cent. I think that everybody will agree that it is more than a coincidence that in all the Labor government States there were moderate to very large reductions in the unemployment rate for young people and, in the two non-Labor government States, there was a moderate increase in the rate, in the case of Tasmania, and a huge increase in Queensland under the Petersen regime.