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Wednesday, 1 November 2000
Page: 21854

Mr SOMLYAY (2:41 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Employment Services. Is the minister aware of media reports calling for a Job Network monitoring authority? Does the Job Network need another layer of Public Service scrutiny?

Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Employment Services) —I can inform the House that the Job Network is already subject to a very high level of scrutiny. It is subject to scrutiny by the parliament, including the Senate estimates committees. It is subject to scrutiny by the Auditor-General and other statutory agencies. It is subject to scrutiny by my department, which has some 150 staff engaged in contract management and which runs the Job Network complaints hotline. This obviously is not enough for the member for Dickson, who wants to invent a new bureaucracy designed to keep Job Network members honest because she trusts bureaucracies more than she trusts the Salvation Army, Mission Employment, Centacare and great private sector organisations like Work Directions. This government believes that Job Network members should be getting people work, not suffocating under red tape.

The interesting thing about the member for Dickson is that she never has a good word for the Job Network; yet she tries to have us believe that she supports the system. This week, the member for Dickson claimed that Job Network members were `parking' hard to help job seekers. She claimed that they were failing to provide training. She claimed that they were throwing vulnerable people off benefits. She accused them of profiteering. She did not name anyone. She did not produce a skerrick of evidence. It is a disgraceful smear on people who are doing the right thing by the job seekers of Australia, and it ought to be repudiated by the Leader of the Opposition. All this talk of accountability masks Labor's real agenda, which is to renationalise employment services and to recreate the old, failed CES.