Jul 14, 2004

Ministerial reshuffle: incompetent Brough moved

MINISTERIAL RESHUFFLE: INCOMPETENT BROUGH MOVED

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 14 July 2004

In today’s Ministerial reshuffle Mal Brough was moved sideways after having failed in his previous position as Minister for Employment Services – news which will be greeted with jubilation amongst the unemployment and frontline Job Network staff.

Mr Brough’s legacy includes:

1. Despite more than a decade of economic growth the number of very long term unemployed Australians – those claiming benefits for more than 5 years – has increased by 68% since 1999;

2. No strategy for tackling very high levels of youth unemployment, particularly in communities such as Queensland’s Wide Bay, the northern suburbs of Adelaide and south eastern Melbourne where one in three teenagers are currently unemployed. Furthermore, each year the potential of 45,000 young people who leave school early and don’t go on to full time work or study is being lost;

3. A failure to deliver on the Prime Minister’s 2001 pledge to make mature age employment a third term priority. Today a third of Australians aged 50 to 64 are on income support and nearly one in two aged 55 to 64 are not in the labour force.

4. A Job Network system that is overly bureaucratic and mired in regulatory activity designed to manage unemployment rather than reduce it.

Given the financial mess Mr Brough brought upon the Job Network – remembering that it took two bailouts in late 2003 to prevent its collapse – it is extraordinary that the Prime Minister thought it a good idea to shift him to an economic portfolio.

I welcome Fran Bailey to the portfolio of Employment Services, but it’s a shame that the Prime Minister is making ministerial appointments to sure up the Government’s position in marginal seats.

To help Ms Bailey in her efforts to fix the problems left to her by Mr Brough and ensure the same mistakes are not repeated, today I am offering to brief her on Labor’s positive agenda, namely the details of our Youth Guarantee: Learn or Earn, mature age employment strategy and Job Network reforms which would address long term unemployment – an offer which I previously made to Mr Brough.