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Tuesday, 31 March 1987
Page: 1829

Mr SMITH(10.45) —I congratulate the previous speaker, the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Tickner), on what he has said. We certainly endorse it on this side of the House. A problem to which we all seek solutions in this House which is of bipartisan concern is unemployment. The Tasmanian Liberal Government operates an employment program known as the Tasmanian employment program or TEP. I would like to talk briefly about it tonight. Since the program's inception in September 1984 it has been enormously successful, and tonight I want to outline a few details of how the program operates and contrast its success with the billion dollar commonwealth employment program. The TEP was was introduced on 12 September 1984, and offers $5,000 to employers over a period of 18 months for each additional employee taken on. The initial budget allocation was $1.5m in 1984-85. The TEP has been favourably received by both employers and the Commonwealth Employment Service, principally because of the broad guidelines and flexibility of the scheme; its simple administrative procedures; and the fact that it has no restrictive participant targeting. Currently, there is also a very good link between the TEP and training opportunities for young people in Tasmania, the group bearing the greatest unemployment burden in our society

The programs are administered in accordance with an Act of the State Parliament and have a staff of five fulltime and three part time officers. Of these, six are either full or part time inspectors whose role is to verify that awards and conditions are met and to ensure that all TEP positions are additional. Participants must have been unemployed for at least three months prior to commencing employment under the program. A key feature of the program has been the self-canvassing by prospective TEP employees and this has introduced a degree of equity into the program which does not exist in some other programs where selection is done on a targeted basis by CES personnel only. By any standard the TEP has been an outstanding success. In its first two years of operation, 1,712 people were or had been employed under the program. Of these, 67 per cent were male and 33 per cent were female. There are very clear indications that 30.1 per cent of those employed under TEP would not have gained employment if the scheme had not existed.

The aim of the TEP to provide long term additional employment is being substantially met with only 10 per cent of employers indicating they would not have employed the same person anyway, irrespective of assistance under the TEP. These jobs are cost efficient compared with the cost of each job created under CEP. The cost of TEP jobs has been calculated at a subsidy per employee of $64 per week, or $1,664 per employee for six months. By contrast, the Commonwealth Department of Employment and Industrial Relations has calculated that the average net cost of each job under CEP has been $5,476 for six months. The cost per job generated by CEP is thus more than three times the cost of each job generated by TEP, surely an indictment of the over-bureaucratised nature of this Government's national job creation scheme.

TEP has made a significant contribution to the 10.5 per cent growth in employment experienced in Tasmania since September 1984. In the research report that has just been released-I would like to quote from it-an interesting comment was made in the conclusion. It states:

Many employers are either deliberately choosing to avoid the CES or relying on the effectiveness of friends, relatives and other workers to supply labour. Many young school leavers were quite cynical of the CES, but had little contact with the organisation itself and had relied upon friends and relatives to assist with labour market entry.

Obviously that is something the CES ought to have a closer look at. Post-program retention figures indicate that 60 per cent of employers have kept their TEP employees on rather than replace them at the expiry of the grant period. Between 72 and 75 per cent of all employees under the TEP have remained in full time employment. That is a significant result.

The Federal Government would do well, I believe, to applaud the innovative and highly successful program, a program that is achieving real and positive results and one, I believe, of which the Tasmanian Liberal Government can surely be proud. It is well summed up by the research report in one of its concluding remarks. It states:

The TEP is cost-effective-

as I have demonstrated-

provides long-term employment for disadvantaged job-seekers and has an additionality requirement. It also has significant multiplier effects. In these respects it compares favourably with Commonwealth programs . . .

I ask the Minister for Community Services (Mr Hurford) to have a closer look at the TEP. One thing we want to do is make every dollar go a little bit further and hit where it needs to hit; that is assist the unemployed and not be taken up in bureaucratic administrative costs which I fear that the CES and the community employment program schemes are guilty of.