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Monday, 16 September 1985
Page: 540


Senator COLSTON —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. Has the Minister's attention been drawn to a decision by the Queensland Government not to introduce transport concessions for the unemployed? Is the Queensland Cabinet's decision that this matter is a Federal issue a contradiction of its long established procedure of providing some transport and other concessions to pensioners? Can the Minister advise the Senate whether any other State governments provide transport concessions for the unemployed?


Senator GRIMES —I have not seen the report referred to by Senator Colston although I am not surprised that the Queensland Government would refuse to provide transport or any other concessions for unemployment beneficiaries. Queensland has the highest unemployment rate and one which is growing faster than that of any other State as a result of that Government's economic policies. That Government can, of course, see that the large number of unemployment beneficiaries in that State will put a burden on it and that the Government will therefore not have sufficient funds to hand out in its usual manner-for instance, for the building of dams to provide water supplies for the relatives of the Premier. Some other States-I am afraid I do not know just which States-do provide transport and other concessions to unemployment beneficiaries. If I remember rightly, the previous conservative government in Western Australia introduced such provisions; South Australia certainly does; Tasmania does to a limited extent; and I think New South Wales does, but I will check the details. I will look up the report referred to by Senator Colston but I hold out little hope that the Queensland Government will do in this area what so many other State governments do. It is always reluctant to provide benefits for pensioners or beneficiaries in that State. It much prefers to provide those benefits to its wealthy friends.