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Tuesday, 5 June 1984
Page: 2486

Senator MAGUIRE —My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. I refer to representations I have received from local governments in South Australia about the 30 per cent required sponsor contribution for grants under the community employment program. Can the Minister inform the Senate whether the Government has made any decision to change the sponsor contribution guidelines for 1984-85 under this important employment creation program?

Senator BUTTON —Changes to the community employment program guidelines were approved by Cabinet on Monday this week. As has been said earlier on other occasions in this chamber, the Government is strongly committed to the principle of marshalling job creation resources at all levels of government and community to maximise the assistance available for the unemployed under the community employment program. However, the Government has been concerned for some time about the difficulties experienced by some areas of local government and the community in meeting the current requirement for a minimum sponsor contribution of 30 per cent of total project costs under the community employment program. There is also concern about the inequities and inconsistencies in the assessment of exemptions from this contribution in different States and between different sponsors.

Accordingly, on Monday a decision was made regarding the local government community components of the program. The minimum sponsor contribution will be reduced from 30 per cent to 20 per cent. Local government sponsors will not be entitled to exemption from this level of contribution although this provision will still be available to community groups. It is the intention that there should be also a more consistent and realistic approach to the use of non-cash sponsor contributions up to a limit of 10 per cent of total project costs for local government and community projects. This will provide more flexibility in the nature of conditions, especially for local government. To maintain the employment objectives of the program under these new arrangements sponsors in the local government community sectors will be obliged to ensure that 65 per cent of the Commonwealth grant received is devoted to the direct wage costs of a target group. All these changes will be applicable as from 1 July 1984. The Government is confident that these new arrangements will provide greater consistency and equity across Australia and will allow a more realistic basis for the continued participation in the program by the local government community sectors.