Aug 22, 2003

$2 billion job network bailout


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 22 August 2003

The Howard Government has today conceded that its Job Network has been a stunning failure by announcing a $2 billion bailout for Job Network providers.

In a desperate attempt to stave off a complete collapse of the Job Network, Employment Services Minister Mal Brough today announced the Government will guarantee providers $670 million in funds each year for the next three years regardless of whether or not they meet their targets for helping Australia’s unemployed find a job.

Many Job Network providers are just days away from retrenching staff and some face insolvency as a result of the Government’s bungled new system.

This latest bailout comes just four weeks after the Howard Government was forced to provide $30 million to stave off the imminent collapse of many Job Network providers.

It also comes just two days after Minister Brough denied in Parliament that the government was bailing out the Job Network.

The is an enormous slap in the face for the hundreds of thousands of jobseekers who have been accused of being greedy by Minister Brough and repeatedly blamed for the failures in the Job Network now admitted to be of the government’s own making.

The automated referral system between Centrelink and the Job Network has left a large number of jobseekers confused, told to turn up at Job Network providers they have never heard of before or offered completely inappropriate jobs.

These include a 28-year-old Tasmanian man being offered a job as a female escort and a 53-year-old woman who suffered from severe arthritis and high blood pressure offered a job as a combat medic in the Army Reserve.

The information technology (IT) infrastructure underpinning the operation of the Job Network has been plagued by ongoing “technical” problems. As a result, Centrelink and Job Network staff are have working substantial amounts of overtime, including weekends, entering and re-entering data.

Minister Brough owes Australia’s unemployed an apology for his attempt to vilify and blame them for his own incompetence.

His mistakes have wasted taxpayers’ money, threatened the financial viability of Job Network providers and the jobs of their staff and cost the jobseekers dearly.