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Thursday, 18 September 2003
Page: 20516

Mr CAMERON THOMPSON (3:07 PM) —I address my question to the Minister for Employment Services. Is the minister aware of other nations following Australia's lead in implementing innovative employment services? Are there any alternative proposals in Australia?

Mr BROUGH (Minister for Employment Services) —I thank the member for Blair for his question and his ongoing interest in employment issues. Most members of this House would be aware that the OECD conducted a very extensive inquiry into the Job Network and reported on that for the benefit of not only this country but countries throughout the OECD. That report stated that the Job Network was efficient and that it actually delivers better results at a lower cost than employment services of the previous Labor government. It also made some very pertinent points about Working Nation. It said that the impact of Labor's Working Nation on employment was probably negative. Just remember that $3 billion was spent by the then employment minister, the now Leader of the Opposition, on Working Nation. Yet the OECD—not any branch of the Liberal or National parties or anything to do with the Australian government—in a totally independent report stated that the impact of Working Nation was in fact probably negative; in other words, Labor's policy of helping the unemployed actually stopped them from getting jobs. Since the OECD report—

Mr BROUGH —The Leader of the Opposition interjects, `How did we create a million jobs?' The Leader of the Opposition, when he was in government, created a million unemployed. We had 11 per cent unemployment, with over a million unemployed Australians. There have been 1.2 million Australians who have gained employment in the 7½ years since the Howard government has been in office. That is a record that we on this side of the House are proud of. What other countries are taking our lead? The Netherlands is now implementing similar programs. We have Germany expressing interest in NIES. The German employers association is very interested in workplace structural changes. I am asked: are there any alternative programs put up by the Labor Party? If you look at their web site, you see that the answer is: no, not one.

On ABC radio in Adelaide on 15 August, after bagging out the Job Network and the fine job that organisations like Mission Australia and Salvation Army Employment Plus are providing each and every day—commitment to the unemployed—we had the member for Grayndler stand up and go on and on with a lot of diatribe, with a lot of baseless information about the Job Network. He was asked the pertinent question by the interviewer:

So you will take back, you will do away with the privatised network and you will bring all of these functions back into government if elected?

Mr Albanese answered:

No, certainly not.

The interviewer asked:

Oh, you're not?

Mr Albanese said:

Certainly not. That's not what we're arguing at all.

That led the interviewer to say:

That's the great Labor cop-out, Anthony Albanese.

That is exactly what he is—a total cop-out. He has deserted Labor. He has no friends over there. They have no policy on the web site. Yet here we have a party that pretends to represent the worker. Our party has put 1.2 million Australians into work and we represent the workers of this country.