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Wednesday, 7 December 1983
Page: 3395

Senator REYNOLDS —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations aware that in a paper entitled 'Estimates of Unemployment by Local Government Area', the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations lists 36 local government areas, of a total of 145, as having unemployment rates in excess of the Queensland average of 10 per cent? A study of community employment program announcements in Queensland made to date indicates that only a few of these high level unemployment areas are, in fact, represented, leaving up to 30 areas not as yet recognised by the allocation of funds for vital job creation projects. Given that many of these areas are in northern, central and western Queensland, can the Minister assure Queenslanders that there will not be a capital city-south-east corner bias in the implementation of the Federal Government's important employment initiatives in that State?

Senator BUTTON —The community employment program has been developed according to guidelines which, as far as possible, try to eliminate biases of various kinds, whether on the basis of age, sex or geographical location. As the honourable senator is aware, as is quite apparent from her question, consideration has been given to priority of allocations under the program, having regard to employment levels in particular districts. I would be very surprised if, in the allocation of money for the community employment program in respect of Queensland, there was any departure from the general approach. I am sure that the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations would be very concerned if in fact there were. There was certainly no intention that a capital city bias should be allowed. However, as the question is more probing than the response to now would indicate, I will direct its more specific details to the Minister. I am fairly confident that the answer will be along the lines I have suggested.