Jun 25, 2003

Red faced Brough calls crisis talks

RED FACED BROUGH CALLS CRISIS TALKS

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 25 June 2003

The Minister for Employment Services, Mal Brough, has today sent an urgent fax to all the CEOs of Job Network members requesting that they attend a meet with him in Sydney tomorrow (5.00pm) at the Airport Hilton to discuss “a range of issues that have arisen as a result of the move to the new system”.

The meeting will be video-linked to 11 locations around the country at substantial cost to the taxpayer.

The Minister has been forced to call this crisis meeting because the Job Network is on the verge of collapse. With just 6 days before the new contract is due to start Job Network providers are suffering major cash flow crisis and are threatening to close their doors unless the Minister responds with an immediate cash injection.

One of main causes of this cash flow crisis is the consistent failure of the Minister to acknowledge that the problems with the new IT system are resulting in a 20% decline in referrals of jobseekers from Centrelink to the Job Network.

The problematic IT system – which will cost the Australian taxpayer between $60 and $70 million in the coming year and is being built by 220 IT specialists – is also placing a financial strain on Centrelink.

Centrelink staff across Australia are working unbudgeted overtime – including weekends – as they are forced to re-enter client data again and again because the IT system is unstable.

These “technical” difficulties are threatening the very viability of the Job Network as well as causing confusion and frustration amongst the unemployed who simply want help finding a job.