Sep 6, 2004

Real help for retrenched workers, not a short term political fix


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 6 September 2004

The decision by white goods manufacturer Electrolux to retrench 200 workers from its plant in Orange and the belated assistance now being offered by the Howard Government is just another example of why Australia needs Federal Labor’s Rapid Assistance Service.

After initially downplaying the impact these retrenchments would have on the town of Orange (Parliament, 16 June 2004), Mr Howard and his Government are now trying to cobble together an assistance package for the affected workers, surprise surprise, just days after calling the Federal election.

Labor wants to take the politics out of the process of delivering government assistance to retrenched workers and their communities.

A Latham Labor Government will establish a Rapid Assistance Service to prevent the victims of large-scale and regional retrenchments falling into long term unemployment. Approximately 40 per cent of all long term unemployed jobseekers are retrenched workers.

As opposed to the Howard Government’s ad hoc politically driven approach to helping retrenched workers, Labor’s Rapid Assistance Service will be a permanent body managed by Centrelink with assistance delivered to workers and their communities based solely on need.

The Rapid Assistance Service will deliver assistance tailored to the needs of the individual worker taking into account the conditions within their local labour market. The Service will be available to retrenched workers irrespective of whether or not they qualify for unemployment benefits.

The Rapid Assistance Service represents a $47.2 million investment in communities affected by large-scale retrenchments or industry restructuring.

While the Howard Government is only concerned about short term political solutions, Labor has a plan to deliver timely help to retrenched workers and their communities.