Sep 18, 2003

Brough lies exposed by Centrelink minutes


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 8 September 2003

Over the past 3 months the Minister has repeatedly asserted that the cash flow crisis that has brought the Job Network to the brink of financial collapse was caused by 60,000 “greedy” jobseekers who failed to attend compulsory interviews with their providers.

Minister Brough has time and time again asserted that these 60,000 unemployed people would be suspended from their income support payments.

On the 23 August 2003 Minister Brough told the Canberra Times:

“…we have about 60,000 people who are about to be suspended or are responding to letters on suspension from Centrelink…”

However Minutes from a Centrelink Agency Executive Forum held on 8th September show that the Minister’s statement was a lie.

The Minutes state;

“There have been some statements about 60,000 job seekers did not attend a Job Network appointment without a valid reason. Centrelink analysis of this information has found only 3000 job seekers slipped through the net.” (See attached)

The minutes also confirm that the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has intervened to oversee Mal Brough’s incompetent handling of the Job Network.

The question is why didn’t the Prime Minister or Senator Vanstone correct Minister Brough’s statements? In question time today Minister Brough refused to acknowledge that the figure of 60,000 was completely wrong.

Minister Brough has used the 60,000 figure in a deliberate attempt to conceal his own gross maladministration of the transition to Job Network Mark 3. Just 3 months into Job Network Mark 3 and already two bailouts have been needed – the first was for $30 million and the second totalled $2.1 billion.

These Minutes confirm that it is the Job Network system that was flawed, not some new found tardiness from the unemployed as the Minister has alleged. Blaming disadvantaged Australians for their own policy failings is unfortunately second nature to the Howard Government.

As one Job Network provider told The Australian on 14 August, the Government “totally stuffed up the modelling.”

Instead of admitting to his mistake, Minister Brough has engaged in a disgraceful campaign using dodgy statistics to vilifying the unemployed, blaming them for the Job Network’s financial crisis and threatening to take away their benefits.

The Job Network’s financial crisis is of the Minister’s own making.