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Tuesday, 26 March 1985
Page: 888


Mr BEALE —Is the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations aware that the community employment program, in its first year report, stated that its 'fundamental objective is to assist the most disadvantaged groups of unemployed in obtaining permanent employment in the general labour market' and indicated a total commitment of $730m-most of it Federal funds-creating 52,000 jobs, often for radical Left groups?


Mr Young —If you have a million dollars everyone is on the Left.


Mr BEALE —I am from the private sector; I do not mind a bit of competition. Is the Minister further aware that no system has yet been established to measure how many people from those make-believe jobs have now been employed in the general labour market? Will the Minister say whether this extraordinary situation arises because of his Department's inefficiency or is it a deliberate attempt to inflate artificially the jobs-created numbers? Will the Minister undertake to remedy this situation immediately so that he can assure us that he is not wasting three-quarters of a billion dollars of taxpayers' money?


Mr WILLIS —The honourable member's disparaging remarks about the community employment program seem to indicate a view on his part that job creation schemes are not worth spending money on. In that case he might ask why the previous Government introduced the wage pause program as a job creation scheme, on which the CEP is an improvement but, nevertheless, of the same ilk, that is, a government job creation scheme. The purpose of the job creation scheme we are operating as the CEP is designed most definitely to provide opportunities to people who would not have job opportunities from normal economic recovery. They are the most disadvantaged people in the work force. This applies particularly to the long term unemployed.

The simple facts of life, which the honourable member should understand, are that these people will not be able to get jobs quickly because they are disadvantaged in the sense of their low self-esteem and their confidence in getting a job. Also, employers tend to view a person who has been unemployed for a long time as not such a good employment prospect. The CEP gives these people a chance to show that they can hold down a job, that they can get a good reference, and therefore can go to an employer with much better employment prospects than would otherwise have been the case.

Preliminary research that has been carried out shows that under the wage pause program about half of the participants went on to get permanent full time jobs, and that is encouraging. We are having further work done on that through the Bureau of Labour Market Research. Work is also being done on the community employment program. It is a total and absolute nonsense to say, as I thought I heard the honourable member say, that all this money has been spent on left wing groups. I do not know where he got that delusion from. It is overwhelmingly the case, of course, that the funds have been spent through State governments and local government, and some funds have been spent through the Federal Government. About 20 per cent of the funds have been spent through community groups, which comprise all sorts of groups, some of which might be seen by the honourable member as being a little on the left of centre. However, those groups essentially cover the spectrum which represents the community. There certainly cannot be said to be any political bias to the Left in terms of the funding of sponsors for CEP undertakings-far from it.

I also inform the honourable member that the latest figures available to me show that so far under the CEP we have created 67,000 jobs. Of course, many of those have gone through to completion. The number of persons placed has been 56,000. So far $709m in CEP funds has been committed. Those expenditures and commitments are certainly giving a chance to people who would not otherwise have a chance of getting a job. It is a very worth while program and one which, rather than disparaging, the honourable member for Deakin would do well to support.