BY BILL MASON
The federal government has been forced to order an overhaul of the Job Network after allegations of "phantom jobs" scams. Guidelines governing the $3 billion labour market program will be tightened and the Productivity Commission will conduct a public inquiry to evaluate its efficiency.
The Labor opposition noted that the changes to the Job Network guidelines were an admission of widespread problems.
"You can't out source a billion-dollar-a-year program without any independent monitoring and not expect there to be rorts", opposition employment spokesperson Cheryl Kernot said.
The "phantom jobs" scams involved Job Network companies setting up fake labour hire companies to "employ" workers for 15 hours, at a total wage of $150. The company is paid $350 for placing the job seeker into "work", making a net profit of $200.
Staff within the employment services section of Centrelink, which acts as the gateway to the Job Network for the unemployed, have long suspected corrupt practices within the network. However, many are worried that the review may recommend the privatisation of Centrelink itself.
Employment Services Minister Mal Brough said on July 24 that the findings of the review would be used to assess whether other government services could be privatised in the same way as the Job Network.