WEL 1998 Election Form Guide

Employment

WEL recognises that unemployment has become endemic, that there are always more job seekers than jobs, but also that there are some areas where jobs do exist and are not taken up. There are areas of high unemployment and sometimes cultures of non employment that have become a response to lack of expectations about finding paid work. The claims and counter claims of both ALP and Coalition do not cover up the problem that probably over a million are unemployed, if the definition of wanting paid jobs and being available is taken and there are many others who are underemployed in hours or skills. Therefore we see the problem as one of demand and not supply, though there are areas of skill shortage as well. So the capability of governments will need to be assessed on how they deal with the numbers of people who are in need of both income support and work experience, and often training.

WEL is not impressed with Governments who tend to blame the unemployed, focus mainly on cutting income support and fail to recognise that there are jobs aplenty in areas such as community services and bush regeneration. There is pressure under new workplace agreements to work overtime at low rates of pay, rather than hire new workers, and for people to work unregulated hours which seem to be ever longer in other jobs for no extra pay. We have raised the issue of time poverty for paid workers to manage their dual roles, and would like to see paid jobs more equitably distributed.

1993-96 under Labor 0

Positives: +2

Working Nation had an integrated approach to both upskilling the unemployed and also providing some resources to community organisations to provide work experiences, women were seen as a group needing programs, particularly those deemed to be at risk including some returning to paid work after child rearing. There were programs for younger people including girls that offered training and support, as well as wage subsidies for those out of work for long periods. Growth in jobs and some creation of jobs in the non-profit sector. 600,000 new jobs in three years were created.

Negatives: -2

Courses often not relevant to jobs. Changes to unemployment benefit requirements made it difficult for older women who needed to show searches for non-existent jobs. Some programs did not work. Started contracting out to brokers and toughening up conditions and penalties. High unemployment when they left office.

1996-98 under the Liberal/National Party Coalition -3

Positives: +1

Green Corp jobs and work for the dole created some socially useful jobs but the debate around their establishment was purely populist. Some growth in jobs but cuts in others negated the effects. 300,000 new jobs were created but this is slower than the Labor achievements.

Negatives: -4

Major cuts to the funds for Labour market programs, cuts to courses and reduced funds for wage subsidies and other programs. Concept of compulsory reciprocity and problem of naming a program 'work for the dole' which creates stigma. Major cuts in public service employment reducing jobs available.

Recent major restructure of CES abolished the idea of a universal employment service and put a limited employment service out to contract as a program offering job seekers with price tags. Restriction of eligibility for inclusion in the program excluded many young people, newly arrived migrants and, especially important to women, unemployed partners of employed spouses, so women returning from domestic life were no longer eligible for assistance or courses. Some minor changes recently but only to extend job matching to extra unemployed.

Election Promises by Labor +1

Positives: +2

Reduce unemployment to 5% and put some resources back into training and other labour market programs.

Negatives: -1

Comment: still scared to create jobs despite the evaluations showing that subsidising jobs was one of the most effective parts of Working Nation.

Election Promises by Liberal/National Party Coalition -1

Positives: +1

Claim GST will create jobs later and there will be more major projects out of Federation funds and sale of Telstra but no plans for the unemployed specifically.

Negatives: -2

No commitments to targets and an ongoing commitment the limping version of employment national despite problems galore.

SCORE Labor +1
Coalition -4

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Page created 20 September 1998; last updated 20 September 1998