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Budget leaks confirm: no retreat from five years of failure.

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Media Release Penny Wong Labor Senator for South Australia Shadow Minister for Employment and Workforce Participation, Corporate Governance and Responsibility

Wednesday 20 April, 2005

Budget leaks confirm: no retreat from five years of failure

Budget leaks in today’s The Sydney Morning Herald reveal the Howard Government still has no coherent plan for workforce participation, said Shadow Minister for Employment and Workforce Participation, Senator Penny Wong.

“The Howard Government continues pursue the bizarre strategy of leaking that it has no plan to deal with Australia’s skills crisis,” Senator Wong said.

“In the five years since the McClure report on welfare reform the Howard Government has been big on promises but lousy on the detail and lousy on the follow through.

“More Australians rely on welfare than ever before and the number of very-long-term unemployed has increased by 60 per cent in the past five years.

“Australians expect the government to lead by example - but on disability employment, the Howard Government has vacated the field.

“The Commonwealth now employs far fewer people with a disability than when John Howard became Prime Minister.

“And after years of talking about the need to increase mature-age employment, all we have is the promise of another Howard Government advertising campaign.”

“Labor supports welfare reform that marries the positive social value of work with Australia’s economic interest - building our capacity for future prosperity.

“There is huge potential in the Australian labour market that is being left unfulfilled by the Howard Government. Over 2 million Australians are officially unemployed or want more work than they currently have.

“But even with all this available labour we have a chronic skills shortage because the Howard Government is turning thousands of hopeful Australians away from our TAFEs and universities.”

For further information:

• John Olenich 0408 841 850