Sep 9, 2004

Howard’s record: long term unemployment unchanged

HOWARD’S RECORD: LONG TERM UNEMPLOYMENT UNCHANGED; VERY LONG TERM UNEMPLOYMENT UP 68%

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 9 September 2004

The latest figures from the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) confirm that after 8½ years in power the Howard Government has failed to make even a dent in long term unemployment.

Today there are 358,100 Australians who have been on unemployment benefits for more than 12 months. When the Howard Government was first elected in 1996 the figure was 350,000.

(Source: FaCS, Labour Market & Related Payments: a monthly profile)

This latest data comes on top of other damning information Labor has been able to obtain fro the Government:

• Since 1999 very long term unemployment – those on benefits for more than 5 years – has jumped by a staggering 68 per cent to 126,650;

• Since 2001 the number of Australians aged under 21 claiming unemployment benefits for more than 12 months has increased by 10.5% to 49,121;

• Since 1996 the number of children growing up in families without a working parent has increased by 8 per cent.

After 13 years of continuous economic growth you would expect long term and very long term unemployment to be going down, not up. These figures are an indictment on the Howard Government’s policies and once again highlight their indifference to the most vulnerable people in our society.

The Howard Government’s cornerstone labour market program, the Job Network, is failing the long term and disadvantaged jobseekers. It is a system that has become mired in regulatory activities designed to manage long unemployment rather than reduce it.

It is time the Minister for Employment Services, Fran Bailey, came clean and acknowledged that the benefits of economic growth have not been shared equally across our community. The Minister also needs to tell the Australian people how a re-elected Howard Government would turn around 8 years of failure and reduce entrenched unemployment.

By contrast, Mark Latham has already announced Labor’s $700 million Youth Guarantee for early school leavers and disadvantaged young people, a $212 million investment in the skills and job security of older workers and substantial additional assistance for up to 80,000 jobless parents wanting to move from welfare to work.

The time for action is now and only Labor has a positive agenda for the future.