Mar 9, 2004

Brough’s research outdated and irrelevant


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 9 March 2004

The research conducted by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) into the performance of the Government’s labour market programs and released today, is a desperate attempt to divert public attention from the financial crisis crippling the Job Network.

In a bizarre move, the Minister for Employment Services, Mal Brough, has attempted to use this research to attack Labor’s plan to improve the job security of casual workers (ABC’s AM Program, 9 March 2004).

Mr Brough asserted that Labor proposed industrial relations policy would restrict access to casual employment, undermining the willingness of employers to take on new employees. This is completely untrue.

Nothing in Labor’s industrial relations policy would stop workers and employers entering into casual employment arrangements. While Labor recognises that for many jobseekers casual or part time work is a stepping stone to better pay and conditions, we also want to ensure those workers, once they have been with the same employer for a period of time, have the opportunity to seek conversion to more secure tenure.

Mr Brough’s uninformed incursion into industrial relations, a policy area he has no responsibility for, should be seen for what it is: a crude attempt to conceal the fact that his Government’s ailing Job Network is failing to get people into any form of employment – be it full time, part time or casual work.

Since the commencement of Job Network Mark 3 on 1 July 2003, the system has been struggling to remain financially viable. Only last week, the National Employment Services Association (NESA) – the peak body representing Job Network providers – warned in an internal document that:

“Cash flow projections would strongly suggest that the next three months will be negative and an immediate cash injection will be required to sustain providers.”

Furthermore, any findings contained in Mr Brough’s research should be taken with a grain of salt – it refers to Job Network Mark 2, a system that no longer exists.

This outdated research has been released just days after the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) announced that it would be conducting two audits into the transition to Job Network Mark 3, including the accuracy of the financial modelling, the design and implementation of the IT system and quality of services being provided to jobseekers.