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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 567 ..



Mr Speaker, I find almost beyond belief the hypocrisy of some members of this place who constantly express their concern over perceived levels of youth unemployment. But, Mr Speaker, when the Government presents an option which will go some way towards alleviating those levels, those same members let their personal bias cloud their thinking and lead them towards the production of an unproductive, non-constructive report such as has been presented in this place today.

It was patently clear through the course of the committee's hearings that the Government was acting with great resolution to provide a workable option to the issue of unemployment. The work for the dole program put forward by the Department of Education and Community Services is not, and is not meant to be, the be-all and end-all solution. It is just one strategy designed to assist in the development of the work ethic and to provide a sense of direction, a feeling of usefulness and a degree of self-respect to its participants. The committee, however, as is clearly demonstrated in its majority report, has not endeavoured to consider this issue in a constructive and balanced manner.

Mr Speaker, I would be most happy if in presenting this report the majority attempted to provide some sensible, workable solutions in areas where they perceive problems. But they are not interested in being constructive and, consequently, the report is a simple expression of biases and prejudices. It is yet another example of what we see so often in this place - an ideological position taking precedence over the concept of working together to provide greater opportunities for the people of this great Territory and the region.

As I have stated in my dissenting report, it is quite obvious that the majority have accepted the evidence presented by those whose views reflect their own prejudices, yet they have all but ignored the evidence of the Minister, officials from his department, and others whose views do not coincide with their own. How can you present a balanced report when you are not willing to give equal consideration to all the evidence?

The majority report seeks to make much of the majority members' supposed anxiety over the consultation process leading up to the lodgment of the application by DECS to become a sponsor under the Commonwealth's work for the dole program. This section of the report ignores the information provided by the Minister for Education and by DECS officials in regard to the normal processes of lodging applications and expressions of interest in numerous programs which may be of interest to the department. Established process was followed, but the report fails to acknowledge this fact.

The majority report also criticises the lack of specific criteria to apply to the selection of participants in the scheme. Mr Speaker, the Minister gave detailed and comprehensive information in response to the request made to him by our committee. This request asked for details on processes, not on selection criteria. The Minister responded fully to the committee's request, yet the report rejects the response because it does not address issues which were not raised. How can you win, Mr Speaker?

The majority report also makes great play of the training aspects of the scheme. This is after acknowledging that the work for the dole scheme is not a traineeship program but is in fact a work experience program.

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