Senator FIFIELD (2.58 pm)-My question is to the Minister for Employment Participation, Senator Arbib. Minister, have all the successful providers for employer broker activities been notified, and if so, when?
Senator ARBIB-I thank Senator Fifield for the question. In terms of employer brokers, I made an announcement last Friday where that information was provided. I am happy to say that $6 million was provided over three years to fund employer broker activities, with $2 million allocated in each financial year. Employer brokers will ensure Job Services Australia has a strong focus on matching the needs of job seekers with the labour requirements of employers. In order to receive funding for the employer broker activities, organisations must be members of the Employer Broker Panel. Fifty-six successful panel members were announced in March 2009 following a request for tender. Fifty-seven applications for the first round of employer broker funding were received. The successful proponents from round 1 were announced on 14 August. Six organisations will share in almost $700,000 of funding under round 1 of the program. The proposals were creative and clearly met the objectives of the program. Many of the proposals pooled a range of services, including providing job seekers with mentoring, training and work experience specifically targeted to the needs of local employers.
Successful projects include: the Queensland Rural Industry Training Council building people for building jobs, which is accredited construction training tailored to the needs of job seekers; REAL Corporate Partners, connecting displaced workers with jobs in the logistics industry; training on site; work experience and industry education to provide and attract displaced workers to logistics and warehousing positions in the Orange region; Queensland Rural Industry Training Council’s Moving Farm Hands- (Time expired)
Senator FIFIELD-I note the minister’s advice that some employer brokers were advised on 14 August- that announcement was made on Friday-but I draw the minister’s attention to his departmental website, which states, ‘Employer Broker activities will commence on 1 July 2009,’ some six weeks ago. Who is to blame for this delayed start-up? Are any of the employer broker services in operation?
Senator ARBIB-As I was saying, there are some fantastic projects that have been awarded funding under the employer broker service. Senator Fifield may not want to talk about or listen to some of the projects, but I am happy to talk about them. In Queensland, the Limestone Coast Regional Development Board’s Clean Jobs, supporting employers and job seekers to gain the skills and knowledge to develop-
Senator Fifield-Mr President, I rise on a point of order on relevance. I did take up the minister’s injunction to listen to his answer, but he has not yet strayed anywhere close to the question, which was: who is to blame for the delayed start-up-the delay of more than six weeks?
The PRESIDENT-Senator Arbib, I draw your attention to the fact that there are 30 seconds remaining
to answer the question that Senator Fifield has asked of you.
Senator ARBIB-I am happy to find out for Senator Fifield what the reason for the delay was. I am happy to check the government website to ensure that what Senator Fifield is saying is actually correct-
Opposition senators interjecting-
The PRESIDENT-Senator Arbib, have you finished your answer?
Senator FIFIELD-I appreciate the minister’s offer to ask someone who knows about this area what the reason for the delay is.
The PRESIDENT-Your question.
Senator FIFIELD-Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Given that the coalition raised in the Senate on 22 June 2009 delays with the Indigenous Employment Panel, and this is now the second program with unexplained delays, what is the minister doing to address these systemic delays in his portfolio?
Senator ARBIB-I totally reject Senator Fifield’s assertion regarding the Indigenous panel. Senator Fifield has certainly misinterpreted that. I say, though, that the Liberal Party-
Opposition senators interjecting-
The PRESIDENT-Order! I will call you to respond when there is silence.
Senator ARBIB-I just say to Senator Fifield: Job Services Australia, which has obviously just gone through an amazing transformation, has been working very effectively. More than 11,400 job seekers have been placed in jobs since 1 July at more than 2,100 sites. Of the 452,000 transition job seekers, 77 per cent have already engaged with their provider. So Senator Fifield can talk about delays. These are actual results: action on jobs, going through Job Services Australia and through the employer brokers. This is what the government is doing. We have a jobs plan; the opposition have no plan on jobs. (Time expired)