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Newman Challenges Maharey to Front Up with Facts

Newman Challenges Maharey to Front Up with Facts

Tuesday 6 Aug 2002

Employment Minister Steve Maharey is refusing to provide information that would show if the scheme that gives the dole to artists while they concentrate on their art has become a welfare trap, ACT Social Services and Employment Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman revealed today.

"Information I have obtained under the Official Information Act shows that before the introduction of Pathways to Arts and Cultural Employment (Pace), the Minister was told by officials from the Ministry of Social Policy and Department of Labour that around fifty-one percent of jobseekers generally get work and leave their benefits within six months. The officials warned against programmes that could "negatively affect this behaviour by providing incentives to remain on [the] benefit".

"Nine months after the creation of Pace, the Employment Minister continues to refuse to answer any of the more than forty parliamentary questions about the success of Pace that I have asked this year. I asked the earliest of these questions in February, and while Ministers normally take five working days to answer members' questions, Mr Maharey has taken seven months.

"Mr Maharey's failure to provide any information for seven long months casts strong doubts on the scheme. Since this Minister certainly hasn't been shy to crow about "good news" in the past I suspect that his scheme is failing to help budding artists move into work.

"The public has a right to know whether his scheme is working. I am challenging him to front up with the facts and let us know whether at least fifty-one percent of Pace recipients got jobs within six months, or whether the scheme is effectively trapping them on welfare," Dr Newman said.

Copy of information obtained under the Official Information Act available by fax.


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