Mar 3, 2004

Labor welcomes Audit Office’s Job Network investigation

LABOR WELCOMES AUDIT OFFICE’S JOB NETWORK INVESTIGATION

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 3 March 2004

Labor welcomes the Australian National Audit Office’s (ANAO) decision to carry out a performance audit into the Howard Government’s handling of the transition to Job Network Mark 3. The ANAO will also investigate whether the Job Network is delivering high quality services to jobseekers.

I am pleased ANAO has adopted this course of action, particularly given that I wrote to them last year (1 August 2003) requesting such an audit be conducted.

Despite already been the subject of two bailouts, reports earlier this week confirmed that unless Job Network providers receive “an immediate cash injection” from the Australian taxpayer they will have to stop helping the unemployed and close their doors permanently.

That was the key recommendation contained in a report written by the peak organisation representing both private and not-for-profit Job Network providers – the National Employment Services Association (NESA).

The NESA document lists a litany of fundamental mistakes made by Employment Services Minister, Mal Brough, and his Department during the development and implementation of Job Network Mark 3.

These blunders have been a double whammy for providers – reducing their revenues while increasing their costs. A recent survey of rural providers found that they are operating at 80% of expected income and 120% of expected expenditure.

The Government has dudded both the taxpayer and the unemployed.

Given the Minister’s ongoing state of denial regarding the financial crisis that has engulfed the Job Network, I believe it is important that an independent body, the ANAO, is investigating the Government’s handling of the design and implementation of the Job Network contract worth $2.8 billion.

It is disappointing that the Audit Office’s findings will not be released until after the coming federal election. However, the fact that this audit is being conducted at all stands in stark contrast to Minister Brough’s repeated claims “that the Job Network, as designed, is in fact working very effectively”.