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Tuesday, 6 September 1983
Page: 434

Mr WELLS(10.44) —I would like to speak tonight about the community employment program particularly as it affects my State of Queensland. This excellent program which holds out hope of employment for thousands of young Australians, many of whom I represent because there is a large degree of unemployment in my electorate of Petrie, is being sabotaged by the inactivity and the fumbling incompetence of the Bjelke-Petersen Government.

Mr Ian Cameron —Not true.

Mr WELLS —The honourable member for Maranoa interjects in his usual fumbling inarticulate way. I would like the honourable member for Maranoa to know that back in the 1930s my father was a gun shearer out in Maranoa and he possibly even stripped wool off the sheep of the honourable member's father. If the honourable member does not watch out, I will be tearing strips of more than wool off him. At the moment in Brisbane the community employment program office is faced with the problem of large numbers of applications. I have dozens of applications for the community employment program from organisations in my electorate. But that office cannot process the applications by virtue of the fact that the Bjelke-Petersen Government has not yet made the appropriate recommendations for nominations to the advisory committee by which the money will be disbursed. It is not a tremendously difficult task for a public servant, under the authorisation of his appropriate Minister, to choose a committee of six people. This has been done in other States of Australia but not in Queensland. This caps off the degree of incompetence and delay which only the Bjelke-Petersen Government could have achieved.

Back in May in this place we set things in train for the community employment program. In June multilateral meetings took place in this city between representatives of State and Commonwealth public services. Over the next five weeks there were bilateral discussions in each of the State capitals. In each State capital except Brisbane the Commonwealth officials were met by representatives of the appropriate department of industry. In Queensland they were met by-honourable members may have guessed it-representatives of the Premiers Department. Representatives of the Premiers Department in Queensland were unable to say whether Queensland would go ahead. The final meeting on this subject was scheduled for 19 July and on that date the State public servants were unable to say what the attitude of their Government would be on the question. They postponed indefinitely that meeting which was supposed to organise the community employment program for Queensland. The result of that was that nothing more happened until the very day that the once Treasurer of Quensland, Dr Llew Edwards got rolled by his Ministers and his successor, Terry White. On this occasion Llew Edwards, as one last act before meeting his maker, signed the agreement-perhaps for fear that the person who came after him would not be able to write his own name.

Subsequently, nothing more has happened. It has even gone to the extent that in Brisbane State public servants who are supposed to be attending meetings with Commonwealth public servants have simply not turned up. One might even think that State public servants have been trying to avoid Commonwealth public servants. When Commonwealth public servants ring up State public servants and ask them for an appointment they are told that they cannot do anything or see them before next Thursday. Maybe they are very busy. Maybe they are watching where the axe will fall now that there is a new minority one-party Government in Queensland which has a certain aversion to any public servant who has not cringingly toed the appropriate party line for the past 20 years.

One way or another my constituents are suffering. One way or another over 40 organisations in my electorate which have put in applications have not had those applications acted upon. One way or another the Commonwealth public servants in Brisbane who are trying to work out this idealistic community employment program and who want to say something in reply to people who have made application to them are unable to do so by virtue of the fact that the Bjelke-Petersen Government has not yet had the energy or the will to nominate an advisory committee. I call on that Government to do what could very simply be done. It does not take very much effort to get together a Commonwealth public servant, a State public servant, a social worker, an Aborigine, a representative of youth and a representative of women's groups. That could be done by going to any supermarket in West End. It is a very easy process. All that has to be done is to nominate a committee. Once it is nominated funds can start flowing. I urge the Bjelke-Petersen Government to stop messing around, to stop trying to sabotage this worthwhile and idealistic Federal program and to get on with the job.