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Tuesday, 3 May 1994
Page: 9


Senator TIERNEY —I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment, Education and Training. Last night's Four Corners program included the case of a charity in Perth which used young people on Jobstart to collect money and then sacked them as soon as the Jobstart subsidy ran out, then returned to the CES and repeated the process. An ex-employee of the charity claimed that at no time did the CES check on what was going on. Does not this case highlight what the Auditor-General and estimates committees have been told for years—namely, that the administration of jobs programs by the Department of Employment, Education and Training has been seriously deficient? Is it not true that the answer Minister Crean has just provided to Senator Boswell is just the same old whitewash that we have heard for years where the department claims to have solved the problem but, like the Perth charity case, it is clearly true that it has not?


Senator SCHACHT —I think that I have already given an answer to Senator Boswell that covers about 90 per cent of what Senator Tierney has asked. The example given last night in Four Corners is of concern. I think Senator Tierney will have noticed that Mr Crean made it very clear in his interview in the same program that such abuses were not to be tolerated. He stated in the interview that in the white paper announcement tomorrow details will be given as to how such abuses will be dealt with by the government.


Senator Tierney —That is what you said last year.


Senator SCHACHT —I think that Senator Tierney should at least wait. I know that the patience of those in opposition has been long, some 11 years, but I ask Senator Tierney to wait just one more day and a bit. He will then be able to make a judgment on whether Mr Crean's action as announced in the white paper is relevant to Senator Tierney's concerns. If the honourable senator believes Mr Crean does not answer them, I suspect Senator Tierney will be back in here asking a question on the following day. I ask him at least to be patient for one more day to see what we announce in the white paper. Certainly I shall not divulge any details before that announcement.


Senator TIERNEY —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. If Senator Schacht looks at the Hansard record of the estimates hearings—and I draw his attention to that record—he will see that for many years we have been getting the sort of answer he has just given, and Australian taxpayers are sick and tired of their money being wasted by this department. How can the government now propose to throw more money at this inefficient department when it has been proved that it cannot administer the money it already has?


Senator SCHACHT —We know that the opposition would not want to spend a cent on unemployment in Australia if it had its way. That was the opposition's policy in Fightback—to cut youth wages and throw people off the dole. The people rejected that policy. Therefore, I am surprised that Senator Tierney again seeks to raise the spectre that his party does not wish to see any money spent on unemployment in Australia. This government will spend money on the long term-unemployed because we understand the social problems, whereas those opposite do not. If the honourable senator waits until tomorrow he will see in the white paper imaginative initiatives to improve the employment situation for all people in Australia. That is a matter those opposite have not been able to address in 11 years in opposition.