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Tuesday, 22 February 1977

Dr JENKINS (Scullin) -On 23 December the Town Clerk of the City of Preston wrote to me expressing his Council's concern at the high level of unemployment, particularly among teenagers, in the Preston municipality. He informed me that the council was concerned with the social implications of the massive level of unemployment. He said:

Unemployment appears likely to increase in the near future and the Commonwealth Government will incur a heavier liability for payments by its Department of Social Security. This expenditure is totally unproductive and perpetuates a system where the people concerned- particularly the young- face a life of frustration, boredom and poverty.

He then went on to point out that councils had the organisational capacity to absorb significant numbers of unemployed if the necessary finance was made available. He pointed out the very worthwhile work on which they could be used. He pointed out also that people employed on works would receive on the job training and acquire skills in various fields which would be of advantage to them in the future in obtaining employment in the private sphere. The City of Preston Council decided to mount a campaign for the reintroduction of federal funding for local local government projects similar to the Regional Employment Development scheme and circularised all municipalities in Victoria seeking their support and assistance.

I replied to the Council that the Australian Labor Party was seeking a reintroduction of the scheme. As is my usual courteous custom I sent copies of this correspondence to the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) and the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street). I pointed out that this Council is a conservative council which consists of 8 conservatives and 4 Labor members. I supported the representations it made as they were in line with what we were doing.

I received from a councillor the response of the municipalities in Victoria. Of the 82 municipalities 62 supported what was put forward, 7 said no and 13 did not commit themselves. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table showing the municipalities and their response.

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