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Thursday, 21 August 1980
Page: 581

Mr RUDDOCK (DUNDAS, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I direct a question to the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs. Are government funded job creation schemes an effective means of reducing unemployment? What would be the cost of any such proposals which have been put forward for Australia?

Mr VINER (STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs) - It has been well documented in Australia and overseas, and notably amongst the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, that government funded job creation schemes are not an effective way of dealing with unemployment. The Opposition learnt that lesson when it was in government.

Mr Young - You wouldn't know.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Port Adelaide continually interjected during the last answer and has now started to interject during this answer. I ask him to cease.

Mr VINER - As I was saying, the Opposition learnt that lesson when it was in government between 1973 and 1975. In 1975 the Leader of the Opposition, when Treasurer of the Whitlam Government, abandoned its job creation scheme - the Regional Employment Development Scheme - which had then cost $185m. So it is strange that the Leader of the Opposition should now be putting to Australia that the effective way of dealing with unemployment is to introduce another RED scheme. I remind him that a RED scheme by any other name would cost as much.

In a debate in this House on 25 March I put the true costing of the Australian Labor Party's proposals at $ 1,000m- I repeat, 51,000m. That costing was not challenged in that debate, nor was the costing challenged in the debate which we had yesterday. The shadow Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs promoted a matter of public importance, seeking to uphold the effectiveness of a government sponsored- that is, taxpayer financed - job creation scheme. Not once during that debate did he dispute or challenge the costing that I put forward of $ 1 ,000m for the proposals of the Opposition. The Labor Party put forward a costing of $300m. Quite clearly, even at this stage, with our balanced Budget, and with our surplus of S39m on the domestic side, the Labor Party is proposing either to go into debt to the tune of $300m or to increase taxes to finance that $300m. But the Leader of the Opposition knows that he does not have to finance only $300m; he has to finance $ 1,000m. During the weeks or months before the election, I will be very interested to hear how the Opposition proposes to finance this $ 1,000m program. Will the Leader of the Opposition tell the House and the people whether it is by higher taxes or a higher deficit?

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