Jun 19, 2003

Labor exposes massive cut to job network


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 19 June 2003

Today in Federal Parliament Labor exposed the Howard Government’s decision to close more than 1 in 2 Job network sites before 1 July this year.

Across the country, 53% of Job Network sites are earmarked for closure between now and 1 July. This translates into the loss of 691 regional sites and a further 410 metropolitan sites. In total, of the current 2,087 sites, 1,101 will close permanently.

The Government is closing more sites than they are keeping open.

These closures will leave many smaller towns without any Job Network provider, and the unemployed in those towns having to travel further to get the help they need to find a job. For jobseekers in larger towns and metropolitan areas, these closures will mean less choice.

Not only does this decision mean fewer services for the unemployed, but it will actually add to unemployment queues as staff are sacked from those sites earmarked for closure.

This dramatic cut in employment services comes at a time when many communities, particularly in regional areas, are still enduring unemployment rates of more than 10% and youth unemployment stuck at over 30%.

The Government is putting jobseekers with significant barriers to employment into the too-hard basket.

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.

Back in 1999 when the Government announced a significant increase in the number of sites as part of Job Network Mark 2, the then Minister for Employment Services, Mr Tony Abbott, proclaimed:

“Job Network 2 will mean very positive outcomes for regional Australia. There will be more than 2,100 Job Network sites across Australia, which is a 50% increase in the 1,400 sites under the first contract. This means better service coverage for job seekers and employers across Australia, including those in rural and regional localities.”

Given that the number of sites has been slashed in half, Mr Abbott must now concede that the result will be substantially reduced service coverage for both job seekers and employers alike.