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Minister re-affirms government's commitment to improve the employment situation

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The Hon. Ian Viner, MP

23/79 .


The Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, the Hon Ian Viner, today welcomed the initiative and interest displayed by the Wagga Wagga Branch of the Liberal Party in discussing the question of unemployment and forwarding suggestions to him.

Mr Viner said the suggestion of a "civilian service" picks up the kind of things proposed in the Government's Voluntary Youth Community Service scheme.

"Whilst this scheme was not aimed at providing training opportunities, there were already special apprenticeship training programs supported by the Government at an estimated cost of $166 million in 1978/79."

He agreed that the question of junior rates of pay and penalty rates were a matter of concern to the Government and said that this matter had already been referred to the National Labour Consultative Council which is made up of representatives from employers, unions and the Government.

Mr Viner said that there were both pros and cons for the suggestion to lower employment benefits for young people and allow earnings of up to $50.00 per week but the most substantial argument against was that this would promote part time employment at the expense of full time, and would need to be supported by massive Government subsidies. "This would lead to a greatly increased burden on the taxpayer, far beyond the present cost of unemployment benefits", Mr Viner indicated.

Mr Viner also agreed with editorial comment in the Daily Advertiser that the Australian workforce was tired of being convalescent but said that for the patient to recover, the right medicine was required.

He said: 'There are now clear signs that the right medicine is.available. The economy has picked up and is continuing to pick up and this is nowhere more evident than in each new economic survey which is released. The most recent example of this is the ANZ Bank's Business Indicators publication which says that the Australian economy is facing its best prospects for expansion since mid-1974.

Mr Viner said that the Government was looking at other programs such as Youth Support schemes and apprentice training, particularly complementary trade training, which provides opportunities for 18-24 year-olds to obtain a skill which is vital to an efficient workforce as the economy improves, he said the Government was also reviewing all of its manpower programs to assess the effectiveness of existing programs in changes that may be required and their relevance to the current labour market.

"This review is an excellent indication of the Government's concern for employment and its determination to act forcefully and meaningfully", he pointed out.

"Growth in civilian employment is the real answer to provide employment for everyone. Only through expansion in such areas as manufacturing, which has shown a pick-up for the first time since 1974, and in development of our natural resources, which provides a spin-off of employment opportunities in many other areas in the community, can this growth occur."

"The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics surveys vindicate that some $3.4 billion was spent on investment in mining and manufacturing in 1978,"an· increase of 33%yon the pfeyious year. In addition to that, the latest survey of industry and commerce shows that right now there are $7.5 billion worth of investment projects around Australia either ready to go or in, their final feasibility stages." ■

Mr Viner said: "The Government is pursuing its policy of seeking recovery in the economy which would lead to increased employment in the private sector and has mounted a range of training and support programs to cater for people, particularly the young, who need help in finding a job."


1 March 1979