Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash

Shadow Attorney-General

Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Senator for Western Australia




The Coalition has produced a dissenting report identifying a series of concerns with the recommendations of the Labor-dominated committee report into Workforce Australia Employment Services.

Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Senator Michaelia Cash urged the Government to take note of the dissenting report produced by committee member Aaron Violi MP.

“I completely agree with Mr Violi’s view that this review of a system that was only set up in 2022 was premature and the Albanese Government would have been better to have focussed on cost-of-living issues at this point in time. The review would have been better to have taken place after the system had time to settle in,’’ Senator Cash said.

“Labor has continually undermined the concept of mutual obligations with many in their own ranks not supporting mutual obligations,’’ Senator Cash said.

“This is why they have abolished the ParentsNext program and replaced it with a voluntary program. The Coalition strongly supports the re-establishment of the ParentsNext scheme,’’ she said.

The dissenting report highlights other areas of concern with the committee report including: its recommendations around Work for the Dole; the establishment of Employment Services Australia and the Employment Services Quality Commission; the expansion of employment services and social enterprises.

“We strongly disagree with the recommendation that Work for the Dole is a last resort for welfare recipients. We believe Work for the Dole is a far more useful tool for getting people off welfare and back into the workforce than it seems to be given credit for in this recommendation,’’ Senator Cash said.

The Government report recommends the establishment of Employment Services Australia and the Employment Services Quality Commission. This proposal raises concerns about increased bureaucracy, cost and red tape and the presupposition that government institutions are better placed to deliver these services than the private sector.

The proposal to extend employment services to those in unsatisfactory jobs, including permanent residents, the underemployed, those in insecure work, and gig economy workers, is an ambitious expansion proposal.

The practical implementation and funding of this initiative raise serious questions which the Albanese Labor Government need to answer.

Concerns about the net positive outcomes for both participants and taxpayers funding the service expansion need very careful consideration, including the importance of its effective implementation and its impact on long-term unemployed job seekers as well as its impact on the federal Budget.

The Coalition is of the view that all social enterprises, large and small, should be part of the employment services sector. It is, therefore, vital that any future grant process is focused on reducing red tape, not increasing it.

“I’d urge the Government to take this dissenting report into account when considering their response to the recommendations,’’ Senator Cash said.