May 20, 2004

Government spin ignores growing levels of welfare dependency


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 20 May 2004

Kevin Andrews’s press release of today is a clear demonstration that he doesn’t understand the true state of the Australian labour markets and the situation confronting disadvantaged jobseekers.

Despite all his gratuitous self-gratification, Minister Andrews cannot escape one simple fact: the number of people receiving benefits for more than 12 months is higher today (365,600) than it was when the Howard Government was first elected to office in 1996 (350,000).

Instead of putting forward constructive policies that will support disadvantaged jobseekers out of welfare dependency and into sustainable employment, Minister Andrews is playing games with statistics.

By contrast, Labor is committed to finding solutions. At the heart of Labor‘s efforts to address growing levels of welfare dependency and ensure all Australians are equipped to take advantage of future employment opportunities will be Labor’s Youth Guarantee: Learn or Earn for the 45,000 young people who drop out of school early.

Labor’s Youth Guarantee will provide new opportunities to teenagers by:

• Lifting school retention by 15,000;

• Abolishing TAFE fees for secondary school students;

• Providing 7,500 additional apprenticeships;

• Creating 7,500 additional TAFE places for 15 to 18 years;

• Establishing a new Jobs Gateway – wage and training subsidies for 10,000 early school leavers.

Staying at home on unemployment benefits will no longer be an option.

Labor’s Youth Guarantee will prevent today’s early school leavers becoming tomorrow’s long term unemployed.