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Tuesday, 3 May 1994
Page: 19


Senator TEAGUE (3.25 p.m.) —Senator Murphy has been completely irrelevant in his remarks on the very important matter of the lack of credibility in the Department of Employment, Education and Training not only with regard to programs that were examined on the Four Corners program last night, but also with regard to the very important tasks that this government wants to give DEET following the employment paper that is to be tabled in this parliament tomorrow.

  The public is right to feel that DEET is lacking in accountability and credibility. As opposition members have been saying for years and as we said during the last election, there is a serious need to review the employment programs that have now been found to be so disgracefully administered by the Labor government. It is a very serious situation that Senator Tierney has brought to the attention of Senator Schacht. However, Senator Schacht did not answer the question. The kind of huffing and puffing that Senator Murphy is on about, the attitude adopted by Senator Schacht, and indeed the remarks of the portfolio minister, Mr Crean, on ABC television last night, were all attempts to give the impression that all is well. The impression given was that the promises given by the government last year, the year before and the year before that will be given again tomorrow.

  The kinds of concerns that have been expressed on the ABC in its program last night, by opposition senators in estimates committees twice a year for year after year, and by the Liberal and National parties in our review of this whole area before the last election, must be addressed by government ministers, and certainly by senior officers within the department. The whole area of government programs to help unemployed young people, unemployed middle-aged Australians and unemployed older Australians has been found to be wanting in credibility. The whole of this area is being put in jeopardy by the inability of this government to ensure that DEET is accountable and is eliminating fraud.

  The examples that were rightly referred to by Senator Tierney, which were a part of his question to the minister today, need to be squarely addressed by the Labor government. Certainly those matters were not addressed in Senator Schacht's answer. I appeal to Senator Murphy and to other Labor senators to take this matter very seriously indeed and not distract it to an irrelevance and not divert attention from a huge failure to eliminate fraud and to maintain accountability in DEET. There is a need to lift the credibility of this department and indeed of the whole government's performance in this area of employment.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.