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Government Lets The Long Term Unemployed Languish

ACT Social Services Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman is accusing the Government of creating a vast underclass of people unable to hold a place in the workforce.

Dr Newman today revealed Government figures which show that nearly half of the long term unemployed people placed into stable jobs in the financial year ended June 30, 2001 had re-registered as unemployed by the beginning of December.

"I find it astonishing and alarming that out of 12,578 people unemployed for over a year who landed jobs, some 5,300 were out of work again months down the track.

"The legacy of this Government will be a whole underclass of unemployable people snared in the dependency trap at great financial and social cost to the country.

"Employment Minister Steve Maharey talks endlessly about `creating real jobs' but he's failed. While the sound economic conditions Labour and the Alliance inherited have made it easier for the easily employable to find work, those who most need help getting jobs are finding it harder and harder. They have been let down by this Government.

"Official figures show us that some 56,000 people have been out of work for the entire period Steve Maharey has been Employment Minister. The number of people jobless for longer than two years has risen a staggering 27 percent under this Government.

"The Minister's reaction to this parlous situation was to axe the successful work for dole programme for purely ideological reasons, replacing it with schemes where participants don't have to turn up. He then spent $1.5 million of taxpayers' money in a year creating just 54 jobs through his Community Employment Organisations scheme. He hasn't a clue what to do.

"ACT is committed to putting emphasis on engaging the long term unemployed in 40 hour-a-week job seeking and training schemes. Unless there are Government-led changes which genuinely assist those who have difficulty finding a place in the workforce, then we as country will continue to see long-term unemployed numbers rise with all the associated social problems that brings," Dr Newman said.

Ends

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