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Monday, 4 May 1987
Page: 2212


Senator POWELL —Can the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations explain why at least 10 community youth support scheme projects in Victoria are to have their funds reduced by some $115,000 from November this year, despite Prime Minister Hawke's assurance in 1981 to maintain CYSS as an effective labour market scheme and in spite of an 11.9 per cent increase in CYSS funding for the 1986-87 financial year? Is the Minister aware that these cutbacks are a reduction in funding to ongoing CYSS projects in areas which traditionally have suffered the highest unemployment rates in Victoria, and will lead to a loss of youth worker positions and a reduction in services for young people trying to enter the labour force? Does the Minister agree that these cutbacks are a downgrading of the Government's Priority One youth policies and demonstrate a lack of commitment by the Government to CYSS as a vital program in the link between young people and the labour market?


Senator WALSH —The opening sentence referred to an assurance given by Prime Minister Hawke in 1981. He was not Prime Minister in 1981. Quite a few things have changed since then, but two have particular relevance to the question of public expenditure. The first is the discovery in March 1983, when this Government took office and Mr Hawke was Prime Minister, that we faced a prospective Budget deficit of nearly $10 billion. Secondly, in the last two years we have had a collapse of export prices of such size that it has wiped about $9 billion off annual national income. Whilst some political parties believe that fairies inhabit the bottom of the garden and that there is a world of unlimited resources, I suppose it is acceptable enough for them not to take any of those important changes and facts into account when determining fiscal policy. Political parties which do not believe that fairies inhabit the bottom of the garden have to be a bit more realistic.

In regard to the specifics of the question, since the 10 CYSS projects have not been named in the question, I am not in a position to say even whether it is true that funds have been reduced. However, I am informed that there is sufficient flexibility in the standard grants system, in which grants range from $50,300 to $130,000, to take account of the variable needs of projects. Mr Willis has asked CYSS State advisory committees to report to him on how the 19 projects-I presume that is the 19 projects in Victoria in total, but I am not sure-can be brought on to standard grants for the next funding period which will commence on 1 November 1987.

I also note before closing that in total CYSS funding in the present Budget-that is, for 1986-87-was increased by some 12 per cent nominal, and that since this Government has been in office it has increased total funding for CYSS by around 100 per cent. So even though Mr Hawke was not Prime Minister in 1981, I do not think anyone could accuse him of having not maintained the spirit of the assurance that he gave at that time.