Feb 5, 2003

Government’s job policy exposed as a ‘quagmire’


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 5 February 2003

The Federal Budget proposals released today by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) shines light on a serious domestic issue that the Government is happy to see drowned out by war talk – the true state of the Australian labour market.

Using the Government’s own figures, ACOSS finds that the number of long-term unemployed has grown by 32,000 since John Howard became Prime Minister in 1996.

It’s little wonder then that ACOSS has labelled the Government’s approach to job creation a “policy quagmire”.

I urge the Government to consider favourably the specifics of the proposals ACOSS has put forward to tackle entrenched joblessness. After all, ACOSS represents the very organisations and community groups that support and help the unemployed on a daily basis.

The rise in long-term unemployment should come as no surprise. Under this Government funding for labour market programs has been slashed by 43%.

In a major review of the Government’s key labour market program, the Job Network, the Productivity Commission found that:

“Many jobseekers receive little or no assistance while in the apparently intensive phase of assistance.”

Productivity Commission (2002), Independent Review of the Job Network: p xxxii

This is a Government that does not believe in investing in people.

Instead of preaching to and breaching the unemployed, the Government should be investing more to help them move permanently from welfare to work.