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Wednesday, 7 February 2001
Page: 24151

Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business) (8:00 PM) —The member for Dickson needs to work out what she is really trying to achieve with her attacks on Job Network members. Is she trying to score political points against the government, or is she trying to help clients who have got a raw deal? Coming into this House and criticising unnamed Job Network members on behalf of unnamed job seekers, as she does, is not going to help those job seekers to get a better deal—the better deal that all of us would want them to receive.

The facts as outlined by the member for Dickson tonight, if true, if they stand up to examination, certainly would seem to constitute suboptimal behaviour by the relevant Job Network members. But the fact is that a large and active department exists to try to ensure that all Job Network members do carry out their contracts, do carry out their obligations under the code of conduct. If the member for Dixon would like to raise these issues specifically, if not with me—if she would rather not do that—with other members of the government, or if she would like to raise them with the department, certainly we would like to look into this matter and try to ensure that the Job Network members in question, if they have done the wrong thing, do the right thing by the job seekers concerned. I would strongly urge the member for Dickson to consider coming to the government, coming to the department, with some details of these cases of alleged substandard performance so that we can try to have a better system and do the right thing by job seekers.

In conclusion, I make the point that untoward things have always happened. Sadly, they will always happen because of the weakness of our human clay. But I would maintain most strongly—and I think the vast majority of members would agree with me—that the Job Network, whatever minor faults there might be in individual cases, is a much better and much more responsive system than the bureaucratic monolith which it replaced.