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Tuesday, 27 May 2003
Page: 15037

Mr ALBANESE (3:09 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Employment Services. Did the minister write yesterday to the Financial Review stating that Job Network would have 2,503 sites with more to come? Further, did the minister release a media release yesterday stating that Job Network 3 would have 2,503 sites? Further, did the minister repeat that statement in an interview on 6PR's morning program? Minister, does the Job Network 3 employment services contract, produced by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, in fact show that there will be 986 sites—down from 2,087, representing 1,101 offices closing on 1 July?

The SPEAKER —The member for Grayndler is now advancing an argument.

Mr ALBANESE —Minister, why are more Job Network offices being closed than are being kept open by this government?

Mr BROUGH (Minister for Employment Services) —I thank the shadow minister for, finally, a question on employment services. You were right on the first three occasions: yes, yes and yes.

The SPEAKER —The minister will address his remarks through the chair.

Mr BROUGH —Yes, there will be 2,500 sites operating as part of Job Network 3 from 1 July. In addition to that, there are areas of Australia which we identified at the start of this process for which the active participation model probably would not be best suited—areas such as the East Kimberley and the Pitlands, where we will be providing a fee-for-service. That is additional to the 2,500 sites. There were just under 350 sites in the old CES to service the whole of Australia.

Mr McGauran —Labor CES; Labor policy.

The SPEAKER —The Minister for Science!

Mr BROUGH —That was the Labor Party's response to employment services. I recall your former shadow minister standing in this place, telling us that we had too many sites in too many towns. Can I tell you that what this government is doing is delivering—

The SPEAKER —Minister!

Mr BROUGH —Yes, Mr Speaker, I take your notice—not you, the opposition. I can inform the opposition and the public—

The SPEAKER —The House, in fact.

Mr BROUGH —that there will in fact be more Job Network personnel working in the service delivering quality services to Australians in country towns and in suburbs where the service is needed. Furthermore, it will be backed up with the world's best IT. It will be backed up with an additional 650,000 job opportunities provided to unemployed people, which, to date, they have unfortunately been denied access to.

This government is delivering, and you need look no further, Mr Speaker, than the unemployment figure of 6.1 per cent. The long-term unemployment figure is coming down: 31.4 per cent. We quote the figure at the height of unemployment, when the then member for Brand was the employment minister, and subsequently, the Leader of the Opposition was the employment minister. Today's figures are close to a 60 per cent reduction on those peaks, when many Australians' only chance of getting work was changing from Labor to Liberal.

Mr Albanese —I am going to try again. Mr Speaker, I seek leave to table the minister's own department's figures on what is actually happening in Job Network.

Leave not granted.