Jun 24, 2003

Vanstone admits what Brough won’t

VANSTONE ADMITS WHAT BROUGH WON’T

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 24 June 2003

In the Senate today the Minister responsible for Centrelink admitted that Centrelink staff were being forced to work a substantial amount of overtime, including week-ends re-entering data because the new Job Network IT system is proving to be completely unstable.

We now have the absurd situation where one Government agency – the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations – is saying that the IT system is world class and another – Centrelink – is reporting that the very same system is causing their staff no end of stress.

These “technical” difficulties are leading to excessive amounts of overtime amongst Centrelink staff and causing confusion and frustration amongst the unemployed.

Job Network providers are already reporting a 20% decline in the number of referral from Centrelink. In other words, it appears that large numbers of jobseekers are getting lost in the system and not being referred for the assistance they so desperately need.

In response to these concerns all Minister Vanstone can do is point the finger at the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations. The unemployed are simply being used as pawns in the continuing power struggle between Minister Vanstone and Ministers Abbott and Brough.

Many Centrelink staff have approached my Office expressing their fears that the excessive overtime they are being forced to work will cause a blow out in the budget of Centrelink potentially leading to staff cuts later in the year.

Centrelink staff, whose commitment to jobseekers is beyond question, have been left in an impossible position. While the Minister is prepared to pay lip service to their dedication, she is not prepared to take action to address the IT problems preventing them from doing their jobs efficiently and effectively.