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Thursday, 19 June 2003
Page: 17073

Mr LLOYD (4:19 PM) —This would have to be the weakest MPI that the Labor Party have put up in a very long time. The Labor opposition hate change. They want to stay with old and inefficient ideas. They are the dinosaurs of the political scene. We all know what happened to dinosaurs. They became extinct. They became extinct because they could not adapt to change. That is what is happening very rapidly to the Australian Labor Party, and if they do not adapt to change they may very well become extinct in the very near future.

The Australian Labor Party hope that the Australian community have a short memory. They want us to forget what Labor gave this country in their 13 years of government, if you could call it that. They want us to forget what they left us with. They want us to forget the mismanagement, the high unemployment and the high interest rates. Let us have a look at their CES—the old, outdated CES which they say was a wonderful system—and at Working Nation. Let us compare their CES with the Job Network of today. What did they have then with respect to organisations? They had one organisation. Under Job Network we have 109 organisations, 42 NEIS programs and a number of other organisations. Under the old CES there were 296 sites. Under Job Network there are more than 2,500 sites throughout Australia.

When the Labor Party left government in 1996—when they were thrown out by the Australian community because they had had enough of Labor's mismanagement—the unemployment rate was 8.1 per cent. There were 228,100 long-term unemployed in June 1995. How do you help long-term unemployed people? What is the best way to help them? The best way to help them is to find them a job. How could you find them a job in a situation where the unemployment rate was 8.1 per cent or even worse? It was at one stage over 11 per cent and more than one million Australians were out of work. People who were long-term unemployed did not have a hope of finding employment under those conditions.

So the coalition government set about changing this situation, creating more than one million new jobs and bringing the unemployment rate down to a low at the moment of six per cent. Of course, it could be lower, but we certainly have made a difference to the unemployment rate compared to the Labor Party. When they left government, as I said, the unemployment rate was 8.1 per cent. In the last six years of the Labor Party, they only created 16,000 new full-time jobs. Labor's old CES based approach saw approximately 320 permanent sites and 88 agencies—only about 410 sites altogether. As I said earlier, under the Job Network we have more than 2,500. The CES bureaucracy had a one size fits all approach which did not meet the needs of the employers or the needs of the unemployed. Labor's Working Nation program was a disaster; it failed the unemployed. It churned them through short-term training programs that did not lead to real jobs. Unemployed people were sick of being managed; they wanted real jobs.

The Labor Party want to go back to the old days. As I said earlier, they do not like change; they do not like new ideas; they have no imagination; they have no incentive to improve things. Some comments have been made which show that the Labor Party want to go back to the days of the old CES. Jill Hall, the member for Shortland, stated:

So we need to look at reintroducing some of the job subsidy schemes and other programs that were there under the old CES.

That was in Hansard on 19 March 2002. Wayne Swan, the ALP member for Lilley, demonstrated his ill-considered support for the old CES when he said:

... this government ... disbanded the CES, replacing it with the failed Job Network.

That was in Hansard on 9 March 1999. The Job Network has been a success. The number of long-term unemployed is 30 per cent less today than it was in March 1996 when the coalition government came to office. The Job Network is clearly delivering results for job seekers. Not only are the outcomes for job seekers better; it is delivering these results at less cost than the CES did under the previous Labor government. It is clear that intensive assistance helps more job seekers to get jobs. That is what this is all about: getting jobs for people who are long-term unemployed. Under intensive assistance, job seekers receive exactly what it says—intensive assistance: one-to-one, face-to-face help, whether it is assistance in seeking additional training, assistance with ideas of where they might be able to find additional work or assistance with their presentation and attitude to help them find a job. That is what intensive assistance is all about. The shadow minister has forgotten that intensive assistance provides assistance to nearly 300,000 job seekers every year—and less than half this number received a Jobstart wage subsidy. Under Working Nation, the more disadvantaged job seekers went into programs other than Jobstart and achieved much lower outcomes.

When real comparisons were made on post-assistance net impacts, intensive assistance net impacts were measured at 14 per cent, at a unit cost of $15,000, while for the Working Nation programs that it replaced they were only nine per cent, at a unit cost of $37,800. The Labor Party has no financial management, and that is why we had such a huge deficit when we came to government.

This government is doing what it can to assist long-term unemployed people. As I said earlier, this is one of the weakest MPIs that the Labor Party has ever introduced. It will achieve nothing to help the long-term unemployed. Certainly this government is doing what it can. It is reducing unemployment, it has created more than one million jobs in Australia and it will continue to ensure that people who want to work in this country will be able to do so.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. I.R. Causley)—Order! The discussion is now concluded.