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Wednesday, 6 June 2001
Page: 27406

Mr LINDSAY (3:16 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Employment Services. What are the latest indicators of the effectiveness of the government's Work for the Dole program? How do these results compare with similar previous programs? Is the minister aware of any recent comments calling into question the future of Work for the Dole?

Mr BROUGH (Minister for Employment Services) —I thank the member for Herbert for a question of substance.

Mr SPEAKER —The Manager of Opposition Business is warned. The Chief Opposition Whip is warned.

Mr BROUGH —The Work for the Dole program continues to provide quality work experience for Australians. It is a program that is widely supported not only throughout the community but also by the participants. It is interesting to reflect upon the Hansard report of 1997, when Senator Faulkner had this to say:

... we do not, and we never will, buy the government's arguments that this program is about improving unemployed people's self-esteem and their work ethic.

This is quite contrary to the view of 83 per cent of participants, who have said that they were more motivated to find a job as a result of their activities in Work for the Dole. It is interesting that we have had the New Zealand parliamentarians in here today. I am wondering whether they have been providing advice to the member for Dickson and the opposition, because they have just canned their equivalent of Work for the Dole and maybe this is something that the Labor Party are taking up. I say this because back in 1997 the Leader of the Opposition also referred to Work for the Dole as a `mickey mouse program'. So we know what they think about the program; what we do not know is whether they intend to maintain the program. In a recent conference in Adelaide on 17 May, the shadow spokesman, the member for Dickson, when referring to employment services said—

Mr BROUGH —You were not in Adelaide? You do not recall? You said that, if you had a bucket of money and a free hand to design a system of employment services, you would probably design it differently. The last time the Labor Party had a bucket of money was when they had a program called New Work Opportunities, which they like to refer to as being in some way their Work for the Dole. This is a program that cost $180,000 per net outcome—$180,000 for every person that got a job as a result of doing that program. That is what you do with a bucket of money if you are from the other side. It had a four per cent outcome. So 96 per cent of people who attended that training did not get a job and the Labor Party, and particularly the member for Dickson, say, `If I had a bucket of money, maybe I'd do it differently.'

The question I ask is this: what does the Labor Party intend to do with the Job Network? What does the Labor Party intend to do with Work for the Dole? The fact is that there is not one thing on the web site of the Labor Party that refers to its policy direction in this area. The member for Herbert must ask the question: what is going to happen to the 42 participants who are operating with the Townsville Cycle Club providing wheelchair access, repairing grandstands and seating, and giving the clubhouse area a lift? What about the integrated disability support service project—the 35 participants there who are working in child care, as teachers aides, in reception or on admin duties? That is real work experience provided to real Australians across thousands of projects. What is the Labor Party's stand? What is it going to do? Is it going to support Work for the Dole?

Mr Howard —Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.