Tuesday, 28 March 2006
Questions without Notice
I thank the member for Hughes for her question. Of course, the member for Hughes knows that her current unemployment rate is just three per cent—an extraordinary outcome. Indeed, in Hughes there are some of the lowest unemployment rates in 30 years, significantly lower than when Labor held that seat, prior to 1996. In 1996 the Howard government inherited a moribund, tired Commonwealth Employment Service—the CES. The old CES was not doing anything for unemployed job seekers, nor for those who had vacancies and wanted to see them filled.
A key priority of the new government was to put those unemployed into real jobs for their own sake and also for the sake of the country. In 1998, therefore, the coalition put in place a revolution in the form of a private sector driven Commonwealth employment service, and we called it the Job Network. How has this Job Network performed? Let me tell you: the latest figures show that Job Network has, since February last year and over the last 12 months up to February 2006, helped over 650,000—
The latest figures show that in the 12 months up to February 2006 the Job Network has helped over 650,000 Australians previously on welfare into real jobs—these are long-term jobs. This is an increase of over 50 per cent on the previous 12 months. As well, of those 650,000 new jobs, 43,000 were for those who were previously on the single supporting parent benefit. These are mostly women. This was a doubling of the figures of the previous year. The Job Network also placed over 11,000 people with a disability into work. That was a 64 per cent increase over the previous 12 months. Very significantly, 44,000 of these new-found jobs for people were for Indigenous Australians, who often face multiple barriers. That was double the number of those from the Indigenous community placed in employment in the year before.
So this side of the House is not prepared to do what Labor did, which was simply to pump out short-term courses which led nowhere. Our figures show that we have an extraordinarily effective Job Network. But we are not going to rest on that capacity that we have developed in the last eight years. Through our welfare to work reforms, the Howard government are investing some $3.6 billion to help Australians, particularly those on income support, move into real jobs, into paid work. We recognise in particular people with a disability, people previously on single supporting parent benefits, mature age workers, Indigenous Australians and those who are long-term unemployed; people who may have, as I say, multiple barriers to work. They will be given particular assistance to find real jobs so they can join with the rest of Australia’s workforce in sharing in the bounty of this country. This is very special help that we will deliver through Job Network.
Let me remind you again, since the opposition is so keen to know, that Labor presided over an ‘unemployment policy’ where they had at the peak some one million Australians out of work and an almost 11 per cent rate of unemployment. What extraordinary misery! What a disgrace! Let me give you one statistic that I think sums it all up. In the last six months the Australian government placed more people in work in long-term, real jobs than was achieved in the last six years of Labor. In the last six months we found more work for Australians than in the last six years of Labor. So the Howard government will continue to focus our employment policies on creating real jobs for all Australians, particularly for those who face multiple barriers.