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Thursday, 2 December 1976
Page: 3130

Dr JENKINS (Scullin) - I am very conscious of the effects on the electorate that I represent of the economic mismanagement of this Government. My electorate, while it contains substantial industrial and commercial areas, is predominantly a working class dormitory area.

Mr Keith Johnson (BURKE, VICTORIA) - And well represented, too.

Dr JENKINS -I thank the honourable member for suggesting it is well represented. What is causing me increasing alarm, as the electorate is such a working class area and as there is such a high number of young people about to leave school, are the reports that are reaching me and shocking me from voluntary organisations in the area and from the individuals who call at my office in the electorate stressing the hopelessness of school leavers in obtaining employment. The editorial in this morning's Melbourne Age which, as I intended to raise this matter today, I noted, is significant for it sheets home a lot of the blame where it lies. It reads:

The Federal Government has scarcely begun to recognise the extent of youth unemployment now, let alone take measures to cope with the long-term structural problems. There is still afeeeling within the Government that as only 22 per cent of the total unemployed are family breadwinners, unemployment is not so serious as it seems; besides, it is a useful discipline to enforce wage restraint in the -fight against inflation. Other Western countries, by contrast, have pursued much more active policies to reduce unemployment by job creation schemes, emergency employment by public agencies, subsidies to employers to take on jobless young people, and large-scale manpower training schemes.

All we get from this Government are programs such as the community youth support scheme which will give young people a bit of pocket money for fares if they go and do community service work. The editorial reminded me of an article which appeared in Newsweek, the overseas magazine, about 6 weeks ago which emphasised the point that Malcolm Fraser, the Prime Minister, at the last election made dole bludgers a key issue. That article stated that at that time:

.   . many of Australia's newspapers ran sensational stories about young and healthy 'dole dollies' who collect numerous welfare cheques under a variety of assumed names and pool the proceeds to live in splendour along Australia's gold coast or used their dole money to maintain comfortable existences as surf bums.

The article continued:

Under close examination, some of the sensational newspaper stories have turned out to be more than a little exaggerated.

I suggest that the records of detection of such illegal obtaining of benefits confirms this attitude. The allegation was a political catchcry by desperate men who claimed to be economic managers but who could prove not much of what they said. In fact, they could not manage a public toilet properly. The article goes on:

There are some politicians, even in Fraser 's coalition, who fear that the fusillade against the dole bludgers will spark an electoral backlash against the Government- and will also hurt people who really have been victimised by Australia's economic problems. Many young Australians, for instance, find few jobs open to them upon graduation from school.

Let me follow up that point by reading a letter written by a father who called to see me the other day. The letter outlines one of the many human problems that is occurring because of this Government's mismanagement. The letter reads:

I wish to bring to your notice an anomaly which I believe exists concerning my son Peter . . . and which no doubt will concern many other school leavers of 1976.

Peter is 1 7 years old and has been attending Preston Technical College doing 5th form, in 1976. The Trade courses for the three terms were, Plumbing 1st term, Electrical 2nd term, and Carpentry and Joinery 3rd term.

He has had his heart set on doing Carpentry and Joinery for some years and it is his wish to be apprenticed to the trade. He is not returning to college next year 1977, and he finished his classes on the 5th November returning on the 10th to do his Science exam.

My wife and myself, since March 1976 up until the present time have been to many builders, joinery works and the like trying to have him apprenticed, but with no luck.

He has applied to the Railways Department, Telecom Australia, MMBW and the Victorian Construction Company, but up to date no progress. Peter is registered with the apprenticeship commission.

Last Friday 19th November he registered with the CES for work if possible as apprentice carpentry and joinery. On Monday 22nd he filled in a green form for Social Service, he was told to bring it back to CES at 8.45 a.m. Friday, 26th November, which he did, then he was told that he had to get a clearance letter from Preston Tech College, to the effect that he had finished all of his exams, and that he was not going back to College next year (1977), the Vice Principal told Peter that he could not give him any such letter and told him to go back to the CES.

We are now dumfounded as to what to do now, Peter cannot get any Social Services until somebody stops the duckshoving.

Where the blame lies I do not know, but would be thankful if you could find out some facts for me.

That one case illustrates so much of the present problem and indicates the hopelessness of so many young people who are looking for apprenticeships in the community. Neither this Government nor its State counterpart has been able to satisfy the demand. For every apprenticeship vacancy in Victoria there are goodness knows how many applicants. The letter also shows the hopelessness of these young school leavers in looking for jobs and the lack of assistance that is given.

With regard to unemployment benefits for a young man who is willing to work and willing to be apprenticed, my inquiries indicate that the Victorian Department of Education has instructed the principals of its schools that they cannot issue certificates, stating that a youngster will not resume school, until the beginning of the next school year. This means that there is collusion to disguise the extent of the problem, to deny young people benefits and to deny them any encouragement. I believe this factor will become much worse in the next few months. On behalf of so many young people affected in my area and in many other areas, I ask that at least some conscious effort be made on this matter instead of this constant mouthing of political slogans by people who claim to be great economic managers but who have shown themselves completely incompetent by worsening a situation many times in the short space of 1 1 months.

Having said that, I want to briefly deal with another matter. I refer to the Mill Park housing estate which is a T and G Mutual Life Society Ltd project. Advertisements state that the blocks in the development have all services. Many people from the Scullin electorate purchase houses in this area. In fact, 38 per cent of them come from the Reservoir area. The local State member Mr John Cain, the honourable member for Bundoora has drawn to my attention that, despite the claim that all services are available, there are no mail deliveries, there will be no telephones for many months and the so-called transport which is available by train and tram is many miles away. I believe that when the company is advertising services such as mail and telephones it should be responsible for honest advertising.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drummond)Order!The honourable member's time has expired.

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