Stephen Mayne missed a key point in asking the question “why not bring it (Job Network) back within government and re-create the old CES?” in Monday’s story — “Therese Rein and Pandora’s box“. 

With a real unemployment figure of 2 million or 20% chasing 150,000 vacancies (advertised and not advertised) why have a job network at all? Why resurrect the old CES? What would be the point? Either way, the old Department of Employment / CES was primarily a job creation scheme for its own middle-to-senior management and Labor’s “new-class” apparatchiks.

So much so that Sir Humphrey Appleby would have “doffed his hat” at his colonial counterparts building such a massive empire on the backs of the unemployed. Allowed, of course, by Labor’s ‘Yes Ministers’.

What should have happened with the old CES was a merger with the then Department of Social Security so that those who couldn’t help themselves or user the internet for vacancies could be assisted.

All Job Network does is shuffle the top of the unemployment queue with no real net reduction in unemployment. Worse than that, the cost of the wasteful Job Network creates even more unemployment by draining money that could be available for genuine job-creation schemes.

Moreover, since March 1996, every dole recipient who has found a job, or given up looking for one, has been offset by an extra person becoming eligible for the disability support pension or the single parenting payment.

The Brits are a lot smarter when it comes to hiding the real unemployment figures. Their official unemployment figures exclude the incapacity benefit (IB) recipients who were placed on the IB instead of unemployment benefits as a way of artificially lowering the number of unemployed.

The Employment Department issued quotas to job centre managers to keep unemployment down. The National Audit Office has spotted this political chicanery, but too late. By 1995 there were more than 1.8 million long-term IB claimants. They are still largely on the IB benefit.

Australia does exactly the same way but to a slightly lesser degree. Simply put, both major parties know that to be honest about the real unemployment figures would result in such an outcry that the present economic order would have to be fundamentally altered.

However, as both parties are now so heavily indebted to big business for political donations, they are so compromised that such a change will not be allowed to happen. Hence, the dubious practices of some Job Network providers, to survive, have to provide gifts to employers in return for vacancies or Workplace Relations Minister “Job Snob” Tony Abbott’s attacks on the poor and the current “bread and circus” charade of the Government’s version of “mutual obligation” and Job Network.

John Howard once told me: “Marcus, I know the real unemployment figure is 20%, but I cannot afford to be honest. If I was honest people would become depressed, spend less, thus creating even more unemployment”. I have relayed this comment plus my paper “What then is to be done” to many parliamentary inquiries on unemployment and on radio, but to no avail.