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Wednesday, 3 October 1984
Page: 1165

Senator Button —On 13 June 1984 ( Hansard, page 2919) Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, the following question without notice:

I understand that new guidelines for employment programs were issued last week. As the guidelines have not been released to the public by the Minister, is he able to confirm that, as a general rule, approval will be given to projects involving new employees and not to those funded prior to 30 June? Is it a fact there will be no automatic roll-over of existing programs into the Commonwealth employment programs and that there is wide concern that funding for current programs ceases on 30 June? I understand that all applications for funding will need to be considered in terms of the total program for 1984-85, with consequential gaps in funding until decisions are taken for the approved new projects. Is the Minister able to advise the Senate on these matters, or is any public statement able to be made with regard to funding after 30 June?

The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

It is important to recognise that the community employment program (CEP) is a new job creation program and was never intended to be an extension of previous programs by automatically re-funding projects. The wage pause program was structured by the previous Government as a short-term, discrete program to finish on 30 June 1984.

In relation to the re-funding of existing job creation projects, the CEP guidelines have always required additional employment to be created on new projects or extensions of existing activities, rather than ongoing operations. The CEP guidelines were not changed but clarified to more fully reflect the Government's intention under the CEP. The clarifications are as follows:

there will be no automatic roll-over of existing programs into the CEP

any request for further funding of an existing project must be the subject of a new application within the context of the CEP guidelines

all applications for CEP funding will be considered as part of a comparative assessment process based on agreed quarterly budgets and rounds of approvals, the CEP guidelines and objectives, other applications, and prioritised by Consultative Committees within the constraint of the funds available for the quarter

approval will only be given to projects involving new employees except in circumstances where a participant on a job creation project has received less than 13 weeks' employment. Participants in such circumstances will retain eligibility for CEP placement

in circumstances where an application for re-funding is received and assessed while a project is still operational, applications for new projects will have priority over these applications.

Administrative decisions relating to the re-funding of projects were issued by my Department on 7 June 1984. There has been wide concern on this issue based on a misunderstanding of the CEP guidelines. Accordingly, I sought to clarify the Government's intentions and on 13 August 1984 I issued a public statement on the re-funding of job creation projects.

A major allocation of $410 million was provided for the CEP in the recent Budget. State and Territory Governments have been advised of the CEP funding allocations in 1984-85, and as soon as agreements have been reached between the Commonwealth and State/Territory governments on financial and administrative procedures for this year, the project approval process will get underway.