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Monday, 6 December 1999
Page: 12810

Mr ROSS CAMERON —My question is addressed to the Minister for Employment Services. Can the minister advise the House of the outcomes of the second Job Network contract? What are the implications of Job Network mark 2 for Australian job seekers and employers, especially in regional areas of country Australia and outer Western Sydney, including my own electorate of Parramatta?

Mr ABBOTT (UNKNOWN) —I thank the member for Parramatta for his question. It is not always easy to work with the unemployed, particularly the long-term unemployed. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved with the Job Network thus far for giving the unemployed people of Australia a better deal than they ever had under the old system. All the participants in Job Network 1 deserve the gratitude of everyone in this House. I am confident that the Job Network will go from strength to strength as a result of the second Job Network tender round, which was announced on Friday. It was the largest ever human services contract in Australia, worth $3 billion over the next three years. It is very good news for regional Australia because the number of Job Network sites will go up from about 1,400 to over 2,100. The number of permanent sites will go up from 1,100 to over 1,700 and the number of non-metropolitan sites will go up from 600 to over 1,100. I am pleased to say that 150 locations will be getting a permanent Job Network site for the first time, and more than 80 of them are in non-metropolitan Australia. I should also mention that the region of Parramatta will have the number of its sites increased from eight to 14.

It is also good news for what has rightly been dubbed the `social coalition', because community based and charitable organisations, especially small community based organisations, will see their share of the Job Network increase from 30 per cent to nearly 50 per cent. Most importantly of all, it is good news for job seekers because the intensive assistance performance of successful tenderers averages 25 per cent more than the current average intensive assistance performance. This is a good outcome for the Job Network. It was a performance based, competitive tender process, and in any competitive process it is right that good performers should give way to better performers. The job seekers of Australia deserve the best possible services, and that is precisely what they are going to get under Job Network 2.

This government has not always been praised by ACOSS, but I am delighted that, in the wake of Friday's announcement, Michael Raper, the head of ACOSS, said of the Job Network providers under Job Network 2, `So having more of them, having them close, having them more local is a big help for unemployed people.' To have that kind of a pat on the back from Michael Raper shows that the government is getting something very right with Job Network 2.