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Thursday, 12 October 1972
Page: 1553

Senator COTTON - On 13 th September Senator Douglas McClelland asked the following question without notice:

Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that in making funds available to local government organisations in rural areas for unemployment relief the New South Wales Government is insisting that the local government organisations utilise the money only for the employment of married people and not for the employment of single unemployed persons? Does the Minister agree that this policy makes it imperative for single unemployed people, particularly young men in country areas, to drift to the large coastal cities in search of work? If any policy of decentralisation exists, does the Minister agree that it is being negatived by this attitude on the part of the New South Wales Government? Will the Minister take the matter up with the Premier of New South Wales and ask that State to make funds available for the employment of both married and single unemployed people - a policy which I understand is carried out by all other States?

The Treasurer has provided the following information on the matters raised in the honourable senator's question:

The Commonwealth's decision to introduce the non-metropolitan unemployment relief grants scheme was motivated by its concern at the social and economic problems being caused by the substantially higher rate of unemployment in rural areas. The unemployment is largely of a structural kind and therefore requires particular rather than general measures to deal with it.

While the Commonwealth has imposed certain broad conditions on the scheme, the detailed administration, including the selection of those to be employed under it, is left to the State authorities. The general aim of the scheme has been to achieve the greatest social impact by giving preference in employment to those in the greatest need.

I understand that in New South Wales State, semi-government and local authorities have been asked to give preference in employment to adult persons with dependants after which any remaining funds available under the scheme may be used to employ other persons registered for employment, including single persons.

In this respect the policy adopted by the New South Wales authorities is, I understand, no different from that adopted in other States.

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