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Job Network services enhanced: press conference.

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PRESS CONFERENCE (1530) 25.8.98









Thank you for coming along this afternoon. I’m just announcing thi s afternoon, two measures to further enhance the services of the Job Network.


The first of these measures is a market development grant which will be paid by the Government to each of the job network agencies undertaking job matching services.


The grant will be ten thousand dollars paid over six months; it will be paid to a maximum of five sites in any region.  It is a grant that will be paid therefore in instalments across that period.


And a job network agency with five sites in a region could receive o ver that period, fifty thousand dollars.


This grant reflects the fact that the Government is sympathetic at this time of major reform, to the situation of some of the newer job agencies.


It is a huge reform, we recognise that a number of new agencies are still in the process of getting used to the competitive market environment that the job network creates.


There is a need to go out there and get employers to lodge vacancies with these agencies and the market development grant is intended to provide the agencies at this time with some additional resources with which to do that.


This grant will be paid to agencies from October this year.  The second measure that I am announcing today is that the Government will make payments to agencies for unemployed peo ple not on benefits.


This will recognise the fact that agencies are putting significant effort into assisting unemployed people not on benefits at the present time.


And the Government now believes that the time has arrived when it would be appropriate to make these payments without in any way detracting from the focus of the Job Network on the most disadvantaged in the labour market.


When the Job Network was first established, it was established particularly to assist those people who had been most negle cted under the previous arrangements.


The long term unemployed, those who are most disadvantaged, who as we know were churned through short term training programs and enormous sums of money was spent redefining these people as short term unemployed.


The Job Network was established to put the incentives directly in favour of helping the most disadvantaged. 


Now that we have had three months operation of the Job Network, we have seen that the Job Network has been highly successful over that three months.


We now believe that it is possible to extend the existing range of services in the Job Network to a wider range of clients and to receive Government support for doing so.


And so this measure also reflects our confidence in the capacity of the Job Network to provide services both to the most disadvantaged and to the wide range of clients that Job Network members have been servicing up till now.


I do want to make the point that the Job Network remains a performance based system. 


Members of the Job Netwo rk still have to perform in order to survive and prosper within that system.


If you don’t get jobs for unemployed people, you won’t be around in the longer term. 


So that remains exactly as it was when the system was established, there is no change ther e whatever, what I am announcing today are enhancements to the system that will, I think, put providers in a stronger position to help those jobseekers who are perhaps not the most disadvantaged but still are clearly seeking services from the Job Network.


That includes people with redundancy packages, it includes working partners, they will receive additional resources in the Job Network to help them get jobs.




How will you decide which of those job matching agencies will get the ten thousand dollar grant?




Well all job matching agencies will get the grant, they will have to provide the Government with a business plan.


And we will want to see those business plans but subject to that, all agencies providing job matching services will receive the grant.




If the Job Network is doing so well, why do you have to spend fifty five million dollars?




Well it is because the Job Network is so successful that we feel now we can extend the range of clients, that the Job Network is servicing, t he principles of the Job Network have demonstrated themselves to be very sound principles. 


The Job Network has demonstrated that it can get vacancies and is getting jobs for unemployed people on benefits, now that the most disadvantaged group is being serviced satisfactorily and service to that group is improving, we believe we are now in a position to extend the services of the network.




The assistance that you are giving to the people that aren’t on benefits, who have got redundancies, is that just for the very simple job searches or is that for the more complicated job matching services?




Well any unemployed person who is not on benefits will now be eligible to receive assistance through the Job Network with a payment for the Gov ernment attached.


They have been eligible up till now and Job Network members have been assisting them, the Government will now be paying the full fee contract with the agency for those people as well.




What about migrants?




Yes, mi grants now, who are in a two year waiting period, will also receive assistance.




Do you think that you will iron all the problems that the job agencies have been facing over the last few months?




Well, it is a very big reform as I ha ve said on many occasions, we have been actively managing the introduction of this reform.


And the success of that active management, I think, is demonstrated in the figures that I released yesterday, we are seeing the Job Network performing in exactly the kind of way that we hoped.


But obviously with the reform of this kind, there will be continuing issues, management that needs to be undertaken. 


I believe that what I am announcing today will be of significant advantage, particularly to those new agen cies in this new environment, seeking to establish themselves and do the best for unemployed people.




The Prime Minister and yourself have referred to this as fine tuning, fifty five million dollars is pretty big fine tuning.




Well i t is a 1.7 billion dollar series of contracts that we have entered into, so in that context it is not a large sum, but it indicates that we believe that the Job Network is now in a position where it can offer extended services.




Is this in any way a concession, that perhaps it wasn’t working as well as you had anticipated?




Well no, it was working exceedingly well.  That is why its number of vacancies was 15.8 percent above those the CES had a year before.


And why it is placing eight percent more people in jobs and why it is more successful in placing long term unemployed people in jobs.


It is its very successful I believe, that provides us with the confidence that if we now ask Job Network agencies to undertake this wider range of s ervices on a more intensive basis, that they will be able to do that while maintaining focus on the longer term unemployed.




Has this been part of the Job Network plan from the start, to review it after three months and then put a bit more mon ey into it?




Well it has always been the plan to review the performance of the network as it goes and to adjust the network as required.


And we have taken many decisions since the establishment of the network to ensure for example that referral rates are adequate, to ensure that there is adequate information out there in the market place.


And this is a couple of further adjustments that we are making to the network and indeed demonstrating our confidence in it to extend the supported services that are now being provided with Government subsidy.




Who won’t eligible for the Job Network assistance?




Well any unemployed person.




Who won’t be eligible?




Who won’t be eligible?  Well obviously somebody who i s essentially in employment and is working more than fifteen hours a week will not be eligible.


Full time students will not be eligible, people who have voluntarily put themselves on mature age allowance or on old age pension, they don’t come into this particular grouping that we have extended to, that is to be expected.




So the paymen ts are over six months, there must be an expectation of unemployment levels to fall quite significantly in that time, are you confident of that?




Well what I am confident of is that the Australian economy is demonstrating remarkable resilience at the moment, that job vacancies are still at very high levels and we are going to see more jobs created in the economy over the coming months.


We have had two hundred thousand jobs added to the economy in the last year and I am very confident that there are more jobs to come.




Despite gloomy forecasts, about the jobs in the wake of the worldwide economic crisis?




Well Australia couldn’t be in a better position that it is at the moment because of the decisions that the Government’s t aken. 


We have taken some very tough decisions, they are keeping interest rates down, they are keeping inflation down.


We are getting Government off the back of small business, we have indicated now that we see significant tax reform as giving a further push to economic growth and to employment.


And we believe with this whole range of measures, that the excellent performance of the Australian economy can continue, that is not to say we are unaffected, obviously, by what goes on externally, but our exports are diversifying and the Australian economy still in it, significant job creating capacity.




These announcements seem to address some of the concerns of the Job Network agencies, do you think that they will lead to more Australians being p ut in jobs?




Ah, well, I have no doubt that some of the agencies that are finding their resources stretched at the moment, will welcome this new infusion of resources from the Government and I believe that they will be able to place more of these people in jobs.


So in fact by extending the services of the network we are applying the most powerful job placement mechanism this country has had now, to a wider client group with more resources.




Do you think it will have an effect on the unemployment rate?




Well there are lots of factors that affect the unemployment rate, clearly the Job Network was designed to be and remains a mechanism aimed particularly at giving job opportunity to the longer term unemployed and the most disa dvantaged and the measures that I have announced today will continue to do that.




Minister, is this a sweetener for the unemployed on the eve of an election date announcement?




Well this is just part of the Government’s determinatio n to ensure that the Job Network provides the best the possible services for unemployed people.


And we are confident in its performance, it is successful and we now believe that we can further extend the scope of the services to a new category of clients.




There are some, you know this ten thousand dollars, paid over six months, that are almost going to the wall, it just won’t have any, be of any use to?




Well in the end the Job Network is a performance based system.


If you get u nemployed people into jobs you will be paid by the Government and in the longer term you will survive. 


If you don’t get unemployed people into jobs, you won’t be paid and you will be replaced by agencies that are more successful.




Thank you very much Dr Kemp.




Good, thank you.