Feb 12, 2004

Government fails the long term unemployed


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 12 February 2004

Data released today by the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) is further evidence that the Job Network is failing to stop a growth in long-term unemployment.

The data shows that 378,793 people have been on the dole for more than a year, up by 5,869 on the previous month and almost 20,000 since November last year.

The number of people on the dole for more than 12 months is higher today than it was when the Howard Government was first elected to office in March 1996 (350,000). Despite a decade of economic growth, it is obvious that under this Government the long-term unemployed have been abandoned to the ravages of the marketplace.

After 8 years in power the Howard Government has failed to make even a dint into the levels of long-term unemployment. The problem is worst today than it was back in March of 1996.

However, the rise in long-term unemployment should come as no surprise. Under this Government funding for labour market programs has been slashed by 50%, or $1 billion a year.

On the one hand the Government complains about a growing culture of welfare dependency, while on the other it savages the very programs that would assist the unemployed off welfare and return them to the economic and social life of our community.

The Government’s ailing Job Network is simply not working for the long-term unemployed.

Instead of preaching to the unemployed, the Government should be investing more in the assistance that will help them move permanently from welfare into work.