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Thursday, 14 August 2003
Page: 18581

Ms KING (2:08 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Employment Services. Is the minister aware of Rosa, a 56-year-old woman in my electorate, who, whilst using the Job Network's automated job-matching system—

The SPEAKER —The member for Ballarat is aware, from the time that she has been in the chamber, that including a name is outside the standing orders.

Ms KING —To facilitate the business of the House, I will rephrase the question.

The SPEAKER —I thank the member for Ballarat. The member for Ballarat has the call.

Ms KING —Is the minister aware of a 56-year-old woman from my electorate who, whilst using the Job Network's automated job-matching system, the Australian Job Search database, was matched with the Australian Army Reserve as a combat medic? Is the minister aware that the job description for a combat medic includes being between the ages of 17 and 35 and includes such tasks as practising bushcraft, maintaining weapons, developing combat skills and managing equipment? Does the minister expect my constituent, who suffers from severe arthritis, high blood pressure and shortness of breath—and who is 20 years over the age limit—to accept this position?

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER —I notice the indignation at my preparedness to recognise a point of order. If members would like me to ignore points of order, it would suit the chair ideally.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I refer you to pages 518 and 519 of the House of Representatives Practice,and specifically to where it says:

Questions cannot be debated, nor can they contain arguments ... They may not become lengthy speeches or statements and they may not in themselves suggest an answer. In short, questions should not be used as vehicles for the discussion of issues.

Similarly, it says:

The Chair frequently interrupts Members to warn them that their questions are excessively long and requires them to come to the point quickly.

Otherwise they will be ruled out of order. I request that you follow the practice and rule her out of order.

The SPEAKER —The member for Ballarat has the call. She will come to the conclusion of her question.

Ms KING —Thank you. Minister, isn't this just another example of the failure of your Job Network's automated job-matching system, the Australian Job Network database?

The SPEAKER —The member for Ballarat will also be aware of the obligation to address her remarks through the chair.

Mr BROUGH (Minister for Employment Services) —I thank the honourable member for her question, which was canvassed yesterday on Ballarat radio. I am sure that your staff were listening in.

The SPEAKER —Minister—

Mr BROUGH —Not yours, Mr Speaker. I apologise. I mean the honourable member opposite. This particular woman went to see a Job Network member and placed her resume onto the AJS. On the AJS she said she was interested in defence jobs. She was interested in administrative jobs. Each and every night, the AJS is matching some 60,000 Australians with new jobs and sending them job opportunities—opportunities they would not otherwise know about. Mr Speaker, I can tell you and those opposite that there are literally hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of Australians getting jobs each and every day as a result of the AJS—jobs that they would not have known about. Let us clarify the point about the lady from Ballarat. The fact is that no-one was compelling this woman to go for this job; they were informing her of an opportunity that may have been of some use to her.

Mr BROUGH —I hear the Leader of the Opposition crowing on, as he does, and harping on about age. The fact is that this government do not actually discriminate against age. The fact is that we put the job up and if they want to apply for it they may do so. Clearly, in this instance the woman was not able to—

The SPEAKER —I refer the Leader of the Opposition once again to standing order 55. The minister has the right to be heard in silence.

Mr BROUGH —The fact is that this system is working well. We have reduced unemployment from over a million Australians to 600,000. We have more jobs on the AJS, creating more opportunities for Australians. It is putting those opportunities into the hands of Australians where they live. We make no apologies for a system that is helping Australians.