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Monday, 21 September 1987
Page: 417


Mr MILDREN(8.09) —Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner, I had indicated that many of the people who are complaining about the Budget are those people who also complain bitterly about having to meet some of their responsibilities. Some of those people are people who, for the first time, have had to pay a reasonable share of their taxes, such as through the fringe benefits tax and the capital gains tax. These are the people who for so long have been avoiding their responsibilities at the expense of the pay as you earn taxpayer and the low and middle income earners. Now, of course, through this Government's actions, these people are having to meet some of their obligations. The picnic is over for them as they find themselves having to join the rest of Australia and become responsible citizens.

I am proud to say that these benefits are now beginning to support directly Australia's low income earners. Of course this is what the Government said it would do. It said that taxes gained from those who should be paying their taxes will ensure some relief for those people who have been paying their taxes fully but who are on low incomes. I am proud to say that this is clear evidence of the traditional and continuing commitment of this Government to social justice. It is a commitment which the Government has shown itself determined to keep. It is to be hoped that the family assistance package will meet with the universal agreement of all people of good will, and I hope that includes some members on the other side of the House. The tables accompanying the Budget demonstrate how helpful this family assistance package will be to low income families. For instance, a family with three dependent children and receiving an income of up to $324 a week will receive, in addition, $22 a child for each child under 13 years of age. If a family has a dependent child of 13, 14 or 15 years of age it will receive $28 a week instead of $22. If the family rents privately-that is, it is not living in government housing, which is already subsidised-it will receive an extra $15 a week. In times that are tough this assistance will be very welcome, and it contrasts dramatically with the miserable pittance offered by the Opposition in the election campaign.

I would like to comment on the Government's employment, education and training programs. Once again I make reference to my home city, because Ballarat will be affected positively by the changes proposed in this Budget. For too long the programs in existence were inadequately co-ordinated. This does not mean in any way that they were useless; in fact, I recall that when the community youth support scheme (CYSS) was being done away with we fought very hard to have it retained because it filled a need at that stage. It really was part of an ad hoc system of programs; it was not something which had been co-ordinated adequately. Certainly in my own electorate programs such as community action for youth, the various CYSS projects and the project called servicing opportunities for unemployed youth, have striven to serve their clients as their briefs prescribed. However, since most of the projects developed from disparate stimuli, it was very difficult to see how they related to an overall set of national objectives for the training and preparation of young people to enter the work force. It is therefore timely that the Government's plans to reform the direction of education and skill development should include the integration of CYSS, the community training programs and the community volunteer program. I was relieved to note that the Minister for Employment, Education and Training (Mr Dawkins) has acknowledged that the new structure will still recognise the special needs of the disadvantaged job seekers.

At a time when every aspect of government involvement in the development of Australia is under review, it is significant that for the first time in peacetime a comprehensive examination of industry, industrial relations, education and training, and economic priorities in the short term and the long term is taking place. It seems that only a Labor government can undertake such a far-reaching approach to restructuring the economic base of this nation; only an Australian Labor Party government can work with all relevant sections that contribute to our economy. We have seen in recent days how the blinkered forces of the New Right, with the willing acquiescence of an Opposition weighed down by its own mediocrity, believes that the only way to run the country is by trying to make one group subservient to the will of another. Union bashing has never and never will achieve anything of value. By driving a wedge between groups which should find co-operation to be of mutual benefit, the New Right simply diverts attention from the pressing needs of the country and ends up wasting time, manpower and precious opportunities to increase output and productivity. It is about time that these tunnel-visioned bigots of the New Right took the time to see just how inimical to the nation's interests are their ideas and their activities. I must say that even the world of business is losing patience with the increasingly irrelevant thrashing around of the New Right and its political wing, represented by the Opposition.

This Budget is dramatic proof for everyone to see that a Government with ideas and determination and that is unfettered by outdated and damaging prejudices can allay the fears and suspicions of its erstwhile opponents. I believe we are on the threshold of a new era of co-operation and progress. There are imperatives of economic planning, of social and industrial restructuring and educational directions that we must pursue if this nation is to grow. In the lead-up to the bicentenary it is fitting, then, to recall not only the glories of the past but also the nature and the extent of our follies so that as a nation led by a willing Government we can ensure a future for our children that they can be proud of. This Budget shows the way, and I only hope we have the courage to follow it.