Jul 11, 2003

Minister lies and denial


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 11 July 2003

Today’s report in the Financial Review confirms what Labor has been saying for more than a month – the Government’s Job Network is tittering on the edge of collapse.

Research conducted by the National Employment Services Association (NESA) and obtained by the Financial Review, found that 90% of those Job Network providers surveyed reported that their cash flow and revenue was well below what they had budgeted for and been promised by the Government.

In dollar terms, providers are reporting that their cash flow and revenue are down by a massive 40% as the number of jobseekers referred to them by Centrelink slump.

One provider made the following comment to NESA:

“Cash flow is beginning to become an issue due to high wages, the original cash upfront has just been exhausted. We are concerned about the long-term impact of lower numbers [of jobseekers] at some sites based on current form, the cash situation will become critical in the next month.”

The slump in referrals is due to on-going technical problems with the IT infrastructure linking Centrelink with the Job Network. These IT problems are not only affecting the flow of jobseekers into the Job Network but are also imposing additional and unforseen costs on both Centrelink and providers.

Or as one provider put it:

“Cost of system errors in delayed data entry; extra staffing costs; client ineligibility in wrong referrals added to unexpected costs which until now could not completely be assessed.”

Based on this industry feedback NESA concluded:

“…if Job Network Members are not provided with substantial additional funding then we will see most providers retrenching staff within weeks and a number of providers actually ceasing to trade with a month.”

However, despite this growing body of evidence that many of the providers in the Job Network are struggling to remain financial viable just two weeks into their three year contract, Employment Services Minister Mal Brough continues to deny anything is wrong with the system and instead blames all the problems on unemployed.

Instead of fixing the problem the Minister is in a complete state of denial. Without a doubt Minister Brough is this Government’s version of the Iraq Information Minister, Comical Ali.

It is time Minister Brough take another leaf out of Comical Ali’s book and disappears.