Feb 18, 2004

Brough doesn’t deny true figure is only 500,000


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 18 February 2004

During Question Time today the Minister for Employment Services, Mal Brough, failed to deny that the true number of Job Network customers is only 500,000, not the 720,000 providers where told just 8 months ago would be coming through their doors.

Mr Brough refused to acknowledge whether or not he was aware of a minute from Centrelink – the agency responsibility for registering and paying jobseekers – to FaCS (25 July 2003) stating:

"I think we need to bring out the fact that there are perhaps only 500,000 customers who can be compelled to come in. The rest are either beneficiaries exempt from the activity test, or non-beneficiaries."

The only conclusion one can reach from Mr Brough’s refusal to answer is that the Centrelink number of 500,000 is correct and that the 720,000 figure upon which the Job Network’s original financial model was based was wrong.

But it’s not just Labor and Centrelink challenging Mr Brough’s arithmetic. It was reported this morning on the ABC’s AM Program that:

ABC REPORTER: …industry sources told AM the real figure is closer to 500,000 than 700,000. He says the difference is made up of those whose names are registered on the job-matching database but don’t receive any more assistance than that, plus those who are sick, studying or working part time and, therefore, not compelled to go to the Job Network.

To date the result of Mr Brough’s poor arithmetic has been a slump in the cash flow of providers of between 30 and 40 percent, the sacking of staff and the collapse of one major provider.

Mr Brough is still in a state of denial.