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Budget 2005: 1,400,000 welfare recipients but only 136,000 new training and support places.

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

12 May 2005

1,400,000 welfare recipients but only

136,000 new training and support places

The embarrassing lack of new training and employment support places for welfare recipients completely discredits the Howard Government's claim that it is moving people from welfare to work, Shadow Employment Minister Senator Penny Wong said today.

"One in ten welfare recipients can access training or support under this scheme," Senator Wong said.

"People only get a job if they have the skills an employer wants. But the Howard Government's 'Welfare to Welfare' scheme invests in only a fraction of Australia's welfare recipients."

Senator Wong highlighted that:

• 600,000 parents have to fight with 65,000 mature age unemployed for 12,300 vocational training places.

• There is only one Job Network place for every seven Parenting Payment recipients.

• Existing recipients of the Disability Support Pension are unlikely to be able to access new employment places for people with a disability.

"These are just a few examples of how woefully inadequate this scheme is. The Howard Government has completely failed to understand how big the task of welfare reform actually is.

"All the Howard Government is doing is moving people from one welfare payment to a lower welfare payment. Cuts to family incomes and taking food off people's tables does nothing to help them get jobs."

"The opportunity for welfare reform has been squandered, and the potential of welfare recipients to help Australia address this skills shortage will not be fulfilled.

Senator Wong noted that the Howard Government had failed to disclose how many people would be able to access some programs, such as the Wage Assist program that Labor previously introduced, and the Pre-Vocational Assistance Participation Account.

For further information:

• John Olenich 0408 841 850

Thursday 12 May, 2005