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Wednesday, 12 October 1983
Page: 1685


Mr McVEIGH(7.30) —The Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) has been tramping the boards of Queensland almost constantly in the last couple of weeks in a desperate attempt to win a few extra votes for the Australian Labor Party in the coming State election. That is fine. Let him go for his life, because on 22 October he will discover just how futile his efforts have been. His so-called credibility will suffer a massive blow. The Prime Minister's credibility is already totally destroyed because of the way he has conned his way around Queensland. Yesterday's Australian reports him as claiming that the Queensland Government had not accepted any Commonwealth money under the $300m job creation program. The truth is that the Queensland Government cannot accept any money because of Commonwealth red tape.

Under the program, the Commonwealth has to approve job creation programs. The Commonwealth has stipulated that the consultative committees set up in each State to assess prospective programs must be made up in a particular way. The committee in Queensland has to be made up of representatives of the State, Commonwealth and local governments, women's groups, Aboriginal organisations, youth and welfare representatives and delegates from the Trades and Labour Council. Honourable members will notice that there is no mention of rural organisations or farmers. I repeat that it is the Commonwealth Government that has stipulated the make up of the consultative committee. The Queensland Government has gone along with that. Its committee is established. It met last Friday and it will meet again on 17 October. It is up and running. The problem, however, is that the Commonwealth Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Willis)-the man responsible for administering this job creation scheme-has not yet approved the committee. Until he does so, no further progress can be made.

If the Prime Minister were fair dinkum, he would be firing shots at his own Minister, like he should be firing them at the Minister for Finance (Mr Dawkins) , the tax dodger, demanding to know why he has been stalling on approving the committee and thereby delaying the provision of nearly $42m to Queensland for job creation programs. But this Prime Minister is not fair dinkum. He bends the truth in ways that make a contortionist look as straight as a bean pole. He has tried to accuse the Queensland Government of giving the task of supervising the job creation scheme to the casino control division of the State Treasury. That again is absolute rubbish.

The Queensland Government is setting up a special community employment program secretariat. It is employing staff especially for the secretariat and is providing it with its own office accommodation. The secretariat is to be headed by the third most senior officer in the Queensland Treasury, Mr Kev Leyshon. Mr Leyshon was seconded from his position as chairman of the State Treasury casino control division to head up the secretariat. It is only because of that that this Prime Minister is trying to distort the truth about the community employment program secretariat. The Prime Minister is trying to question the integrity of a very senior and highly respected Queensland official. Again, what utter rubbish this is.

One of the most interesting aspects about all this is that it is well known that Commonwealth Department of Finance officials are extremely concerned about the future of this $300m job creation program. Finance officers are worried that the full $300m may not be able to be allocated and spent during the current financial year. The program may even have to be cut back. If that does turn out to be the case, it will be completely and totally the fault of the bungling administration of the Hawke Labor Government. The whole situation is an unmitigated mess and it is the fault of no one but this Prime Minister and his Ministers. They stand condemned. On 22 October the Queensland voters will literally rip them to pieces.