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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 2034 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

to demonstrate to the young participants and to the general community that they are valued, contributing members of society. It is a project that provides individual participants with a range of structured and supported work experiences and a solid foundation for training and employment.

Due to the length of the inquiry and the timing of the introduction of the proposal, there are now real and potential problems with the project continuing this year. The report compounds this error by saying the project should not proceed without additional funding. What nonsense. The project would be adequately funded. Over $1,000 per participant, up to $197,000 in total, would be provided by the Commonwealth to my department to implement the project. This is in addition to the individual payments that participants would receive. Mr Speaker, the Government feels that this is a good idea for the ACT. We would get young people helping out in our schools, and with more than $1,000 per person thrown in to support them. What do the majority members want - a 24-carat-gold blackboard duster for every school? Mr Speaker, I am also sorry to say that the negative nature of the inquiry has been damaging. The majority members' report is not helpful at all.

It is the Government's intention to proceed with the work for the dole project and to provide ACT primary schools with the opportunity to participate if they wish. I am hopeful that many ACT primary schools will consider very carefully the pros and cons of the work for the dole scheme and decide to give some young long-term unemployed people a go. I am also hopeful that they will decide to give themselves the advantage by using the extra resources made available to them through the scheme. I am sure that when the dust settles school communities will plan calmly about how they can use work for the dole participants to improve their schools. The Government will proceed with what it sees as a most worthwhile project.

Mr Corbell: It sounds like you wasted your time.

MS TUCKER (3.37): Mr Corbell thinks I am wasting my time, but I feel I have to respond when I listen to something like that.

Mr Corbell: No, you wasted your time, listening to the Minister's response.

MS TUCKER: Yes, I know. Is it worth it? It is, because I think we have to get on the record what the committee did. It is interesting to me that the Minister said at one point that he was offended because in the report the project is criticised not for what it is but for what the majority of members believe it ought to be. What I have heard from this Government so many times - and it is amazing to me that even Mr Moore cannot see the irony in this; he is usually quicker than that - is that they like to see constructive suggestions. They like to see not just damning statements. They like suggestions.

As he has said, the report made some suggestions on how the project might be okay. We did not get the information out of the terribly biased mind-set we are accused of having as a committee. We got the suggestions from the professionals in the ACT, who came to the committee in many numbers because they were very concerned about this Government's ad hoc, ill-informed approach to this particular project. It was not at all difficult to get people to come and talk to the committee, let me assure you. We did not

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