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Monday, 22 June 2009
Page: 3865

Senator FISHER (3:24 PM) —I rise today to take note of answers given in question time by Senator Arbib, and in particular Senator Arbib’s continued reference to the supposed trumpeting of this government’s programs—of this government reducing seven doors for job seekers to one and reducing seven programs available to job seekers to one. What Senator Arbib has failed to explain is how and why this should be allowed to deliver a seventh of the outcomes for Australia’s job seekers. Reducing seven programs and seven doors to one just means a seventh of the jobs, if that, for Australia’s job seekers.

The second thing that his answers in question time today reveal is that Labor’s ‘earn or learn’ policy is nothing other than spin over substance—spin over a seventh of the outcomes and a seventh of the substance. It has at least three problems. To start with, Labor’s program was premised on full employment. Clearly we are not heading into that scenario. Secondly, it assumes that the majority of job seekers will find their own jobs. Thirdly, in putting the whole process out to 100 per cent tendering for the first time since the year 2000, it is going to cause significant disruption to job seekers without the necessary support. ‘Earn or learn’? ‘Earn or learn’ might as well be ‘yearn and yearn’—yearn to earn and yearn to learn. It might as well be ‘turn and churn’. It might as well be, ‘Take your turn and expect to churn.’ On the Wesley Uniting Employment services example today, coincidentally they are left with about a seventh of their sites—eight out of 68. A seventh of their sites can be left open.

The minimum early intervention aspect of Labor’s program, assuming that most job seekers will find their own jobs, totally undermines ‘earn or learn’. It means ‘yearn and yearn’—yearn to earn and yearn to learn. There is the disruption to be caused to job seekers by the transition from one job provider to another. We have three to six months, in the best case, before new employment providers are up and running to assist job seekers. How does that translate? It translates into little other than: ‘Wait your turn, job seeker, and expect to churn. Expect to churn jobs if you are lucky, and expect to churn from one job service provider to another.’

For all Labor’s debt and deficit, we get a seventh of the outcomes in employment services if we are lucky. We get a seventh of the jobs for Australia’s unemployed if we are lucky. For all Labor’s spin over substance about ‘earn or learn’, tragically, all it is to Australia’s job seekers is ‘yearn and yearn’—yearn to earn and yearn to learn. It is, ‘Wait your turn and expect to churn.’

Question agreed to.