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Thursday, 26 March 1998
Page: 1721

Mr FITZGIBBON —My question is to the Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs. Minister, are you aware that the 4,000 unemployed people in Cessnock now have two choices: to line up at the office of Employment National, which will have four staff members at most, or to catch a private bus to Maitland or Newcastle, distances of 30 and 50 kilometres, at a cost of between $6 and $16? Minister, is this the choice you were talking about when you launched your Job Network?

Dr KEMP (Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs;Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) —One of the most satisfying aspects of the outcomes of the tender round for the Job Network has been the very good coverage that occurs in regional Australia. Every area of Australia which is currently served by the Commonwealth Employment Service—

Mr SPEAKER —The minister will resume his seat. The honourable member for Hunter, have you a point of order?

Mr Fitzgibbon —Yes, Mr Speaker. Under standing order 145—relevance—I asked the minister a very specific question: what is he going to do about the unemployment in Cessnock?

Mr SPEAKER —The minister is giving his answer. The member will resume his seat.

Dr KEMP —This really shows that the opposition clearly do not understand the benefits and virtues of the new Job Network, because every area of Australia which is currently served by the CES—

Opposition members interjecting

Dr KEMP —Listen to this and you will learn something. Every area of Australia which is currently served by the CES will be receiving services under the Job Network. In many areas of regional Australia they will be receiving expanded services because of the increased number of sites that are available. This is the document I tabled for you last week. You have had a chance to consult this document and you could have been better informed. Unemployed people in Cessnock will be serviced by Employment National.

Mr Fitzgibbon —That is it?

Dr KEMP —Yes.

Mr SPEAKER —The honourable member for Hunter has asked his question.

Dr KEMP —Employment National will be providing a range of services, including both basic job matching and intensive assistance.

Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —I warn the honourable member for Hunter!

Dr KEMP —All that the member for Hunter has been able to draw attention to is that the residents of Cessnock and unemployed people in Cessnock received services before and they receive services now. And they will be receiving services under the Job Network. Some point!

The whole benefit of the Job Network is that if you go through the areas and towns of the Hunter and north coast region, there are many more places for unemployed people to go to where they can receive services and be matched to jobs. There many more sites in that area than there are at present. The quality of services will be increased and they will have the dignity at last of being able to choose the services that are available.

Mr Crean —I now ask that the minister table the document from which he was clearly reading on this occasion.

Mr SPEAKER —Was the minister reading?

Dr Kemp —No.

Mr SPEAKER —I did not think he was reading. I was watching him. He referred to numbers. The honourable member will resume his seat. He was not reading; I was watching. He was looking through notes.

Mr Crean interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —Does the honourable member for Hotham wish to leave the House? I suggest that the honourable member might look at the standing order and realise that the Speaker can look and see whether or not the minister is reading, and he was not.