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Thursday, 25 March 2004
Page: 27292


Mr JOHNSON (3:01 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Employment Services. Can the minister update the House and the people of Ryan on initiatives to help mature age job seekers into work? Is he aware of any alternative policies?


Mr BROUGH (Minister for Employment Services and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence) —I thank the member for Ryan not only for the question but also for his interest in all the people of Ryan, particularly the unemployed. This morning I was in Sydney launching Mature Age Month, a very key initiative of this government to assist mature age workers back into the work force and to encourage employers to see why mature age workers can make a very positive contribution to the workplace.



The SPEAKER —I warn the member for Chisholm!


Mr BROUGH —The facts are that mature age workers are less likely to take sick leave, are less likely to be absent from the workplace, are a stabilising influence on the workplace and add to productivity. These are very important initiatives which are supported by this government through things like the job seeker account and the mature age training account. With such an initiative, in April we will be going out to the employers of this country and saying: `Give a mature age job seeker a go. Get to work for the Job Network, combine the two and give these people a go. They deserve a go.' The fact is that today we have some 70,000 mature age unemployed people who are on unemployment benefits. They are people who want a job but feel that they cannot get work because they are being discriminated against. You have to ask yourself: why would they feel discriminated against?



The SPEAKER —I warn the member for Ballarat! No other language is understood by her.


Mr BROUGH —The reality is that you only have to go back a few short years to when, under a Labor government, it was almost Labor policy to push people into redundancies, push them out the door once they got over 50 years of age and push them into disability support pensions, because if you did that it took them off the unemployment figure. We see the shadow Treasurer over there with his hand on his jaw because he is the man who was responsible for that when he was the former employment minister. He is a man who said, `How can I protect the Labor government of the day? I know what we'll do: we'll push people into redundancies; we'll put them on the disability support pension; we'll tell them they're not worth anything.' There is not a person on this side of the House who thinks anything but positive things about mature age workers. This side of the House has set a target. We are here to support mature age workers back into the work force because of the positive contribution they can make to the economy and because they want to be able to be independent and supply the sustenance they need for their families. The Job Network will stand ready with the Howard government to support mature age workers, not only in April but throughout the year.