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MS TUCKER (5.11): The Greens support this Bill as a useful initiative to address the problem of long-term unemployment. Unemployment is something all governments grapple with, but there are things we can do. For a start, the sooner our society recognises the need to have a broader understanding and definition of work the better. Governments also have the opportunity to support the many groups that do make a difference. Yesterday, I asked a question of Mr De Domenico regarding employment and training grants, which it is believed by many groups will be cut quite substantially. The Minister replied that it was a budgetary matter. However, we know that many groups are under the impression that there have already been cuts made, and they are under this impression because they were informed by a senior bureaucrat from Education and Training that $4m worth of support has been reduced to $1.6m.
Among these groups is Jobline, and I feel that it is appropriate to mention this group's work. I do not know how much work the Government has done in looking at the issue of the long-term unemployed, but I would like to stress that if you look at the profiles of such people you will realise that their needs are varied. While some may indeed benefit from this legislation, by perhaps being offered a chance of regular employment, there are also many people who for various reasons will not benefit. They are going to be able to take on only casual work, and by “casual” I am not talking about private sector organisations such as Templine. That is not the type of work we are talking about at all. The sort of work that is available through community organisations such as Jobline, and there are other similar employment focus groups who feel that they are also under threat, is unique and important to the needs of the long-term unemployed.
It is also very well documented that the value to a person's sense of self or their self-esteem in having a few hours’ work, of whatever kind, is very significant. Perhaps an economic analysis of these sorts of groups' work may not show that they are a booming economic success; but, if a social assessment of the work of such groups were done, I believe that the results would be, on the whole, extremely impressive. We have to remind the Government again about the dangers of being too focused on just the numbers, about the dangers of allowing an economic analysis to exist without taking into account the cost of the usually unaccounted for externalities. In this instance, these externalities are the wellbeing of a marginalised group in our society who, if they are further marginalised, will be not only a further sad human cost but also, ultimately, a further economic cost.
I support this legislation, but I do urge the Minister to consider the value of other kinds of initiatives already existing in the community - some of them for quite a long time - which help the long-term unemployed in different ways.
MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (5.14), in reply: Mr Speaker, the Payroll Tax (Amendment) Bill forms part of my Government's response to address the problems of unemployment in the ACT. The proposed amendment will provide a two-year exemption from payroll tax on wages paid to new employees who have previously been unemployed for over 12 months. This exemption will assist the long-term unemployed in two ways. Firstly, the exemption will provide an added incentive to employers to increase their employment. Secondly, the exemption will enable the