Sep 26, 2003

Government blames Job Network victims


Joint Media Release:
Wayne Swan MP – Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services
Anthony Albanese MP – Shadow Minister for Employment Services and Training

26 September 2003

It’s about time the Government fulfilled its obligations to the unemployed instead of vilifying them.

Unfortunately Minister Abbott has chosen to join his colleagues Mal Brough and Amanda Vanstone in repeating lies about the unemployed rather than fixing the Government’s failing Job Network.

Minister Brough 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 have failed to attend compulsory interviews with their providers.

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 leaked Centrelink Agency Executive Forum held on 8 September show this statement by the Minister was a lie.

The Centrelink Minutes state unambiguously:

“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.”

When asked in the Senate about Minister Brough’s use of the 60,000 figure and the fact that she had been brief by her own department that the figure was 3,000. Minister Vanstone brazenly told the Senate:

“There is no significance to this 3,000 figure. I just cannot understand what you think you are onto there. So I cannot help you.”

Today in The Australian newspaper Minister Abbott stated that there are 720,000 job seekers eligible for the Job Network when he knows that this figure is incorrect unless he is planning to extend mutual obligation to Disabled Pensioners and parents of young children.

His Department has known for many months that they mistakenly overestimated the number of job seekers by about 200,000

The Department’s figures show that there are only between 480,000 to 500,000 people currently ready to enter the Job Network.

Tony Abbott also knows that up to eighty percent of recommendations to cut payments of the unemployed who supposedly fail to meet their obligations are revoked or rejected by Centrelink.

Minister Abbott is trying to blame the unemployed for his mistakes.