Oct 9, 2003

Transcript of Doorstop Interview: Job Network IT system, Centrelink, Medicare, G

Transcript of Doorstop Interview: Job Network IT system, Centrelink, Medicare, George Bush visit

9 October 2003

Albanese: Yesterday we asked the new Minister for Family and Community Services in the Senate, Kay Patterson about the $47 million dollar blow out in Centrelink’s budget. More than half of that is directly attributable to the blow out in the cost of administering the new IT system for the Job Network. Given that Centrelink staff payments account for 70% of its budget in order to cover this cost unless more money is put into Centrelink then what it will mean inevitably is hundreds of jobs will be lost.

The IT system in the new Job Network has been an absolute disaster. It has cost $60 million to implement at least and now we find an extra $20 million in Centrelink staff overtime as they try and fix the problems that have been there in the system.

We know this is an IT system that’s job matched a Tasmanian man with a job in an escort agency, that’s job matched a 56 year old arthritic Ballarat woman with a job as a combat medic. We now know that it is leading to massive budget blowouts and we know that will mean job losses.

The real tragedy is that because of the maladministration by Mal Brough of the new system, people who have been working hard assisting people who are on social security will find themselves on welfare.

Journalist: Can I ask you on another matter, the AMA are coming to town today. Apparently they are going to hit Tony Abbott up for the taxpayers to meet all costs for medical negligence payouts. Is that appropriate?

Albanese: I think what is appropriate is that Labor has a plan to fix Medicare. What is very clear is that the new Minister doesn’t. It’s an ad-hoc approach by the Minister and as for any detail I think that should be directed to Julia Gillard.

Journalist: Doctors apparently are not placated by the concessions given to them last Friday and more are threatening to resign. Do you think that Tony Abbott should take the kind of industrial approach he took when he had his former Ministry?

Albanese: What we know is that there is massive problems with Medicare. We know that the Government has presided over that. We know that the Government doesn’t believe in Medicare. The Australian people will see the contrast that’s there between Tony Abbott’s new soft and cuddly approach to the AMA and his approach to trade unionists who earn a hell of a lot less than Doctors.

Journalist: Would you consider joining Harry Quick’s protest against George Bush when he is addressing Parliament?

Albanese: No I certainly wouldn’t. I don’t believe it’s appropriate. I disagree very strongly with everything that George Bush stands for. I disagree with the way he was elected.

But I think that the Australian people have a right to expect their politicians to treat other leaders of Nations, be they the President of the United States or the President of China, which also has many policies that I disagree with, with respect. And I believe there are many ways and opportunities to put forward different points of view.

I certainly intend to continue to put forward my difference of view with the United States. I think that Condoleezza Rice’s statement overnight were quite extraordinary, saying that there is now no disagreement as to whether the intervention in Iraq was a good thing or not. I believe that it’s appropriate that we combat those issues in a mature way, rather than in a way, which I think frankly, is more suited to student politics than the Parliament of Australia.