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Thursday, 27 May 2004
Page: 29392

Mr ALBANESE (3:09 PM) —Is the minister aware that Work for the Dole participants are painting murals, making candles and putting on puppet shows? Is the minister also aware of the Borland and Tseng report commissioned by the government, which concluded the Work for the Dole program's `effect on exit from unemployment payments becomes progressively more negative'? When will the government get serious about preparing the unemployed for real jobs by adopting policies like Labor's Youth Guarantee: Learn or Earn policy? Why did the minister yesterday announce more `play for the dole' projects, including kite making?

Mr BROUGH (Minister for Employment Services and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence) —This is not an unexpected attack from the member for Grayndler. He is a member who just cannot say anything positive, does not understand or appreciate the positive nature of Work for the Dole—what it does for individual self-esteem and employability and what it does for the community. I invite the member for Grayndler to actually sit down with some of these purposeful individuals, who are trying to do something for themselves and their community and build a better self-esteem and a better opportunity for themselves. That is what Work for the Dole does.

I am very well aware of the report in today's Melbourne press, which went on to be on 3AW today. And it was interesting, because a number of personnel that are participating in those particular programs rang the program. I have got some of them here. One was a 58-year-old. As a 58-year-old she, or this person, volunteered. Now she or `Dale'—I don't know whether Dale is male or female; I did not actually hear, I am just reading from the Media Monitors report—says: `I am 58 and I don't have many qualifications.' She, oh it is she, says she is unemployable and is defending Work for the Dole. This is the person that we are here to help—a 58-year-old, mature worker who wants a hand. We make no apologies for helping these people and for what they are doing.

What did she say? She says that she is on the dole and she is painting murals and electrical light poles, and she says, `I am making the area more attractive, and I am trying to destroy graffiti.' We all know that when you let graffiti blossom, you also let crime flourish. Here are people who are unemployed, who are working on a community activity, who are feeling positive about what they are doing and who are doing something for themselves and for their community. This is about the first rung of the ladder of opportunity. This is about people feeling good about what they are doing and achieving for their community.

It is interesting that in the Media Monitors today there were also some other reports. Here is one from the ABC Southern Queensland, and it talks about a very worthwhile project where Work for the Dole members are teaming with Rotary Club members to produce, from bicycle parts, wheelchairs to go to Fiji to help young people with muscular dystrophy to be mobile. This is the sort of project that that lot over there ridicule. This is the sort of project that you want to see removed from the face of Australian society. The member for Grayndler talks about the Labor Party policy for youth. The fact is: it is a fraud. It says that in the next financial year some 8,000 young people will be helped through their project.

The SPEAKER —I warn the member for Hasluck.

Mr BROUGH —I would like to ask the member for Grayndler: who is he going to deny this service to? It certainly does not go to the member for Herbert's electorate—I know that much. And it does not go to the member for Paterson's electorate. It does not go to those people who need it. It is Labor picking winners again, where every young person who is in need, who is on an unemployment benefit and has disadvantage is being helped by the coalition government, not only through Work for the Dole but through a full suite of employment programs. That is why unemployment is coming down under the Howard government.