Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Long Term Unemployment Falls Under Coalition

The Labor Party has misused figures to try and score cheap political points on the number of long-term unemployed people, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.

According to figures from the Department of Family and Community Services, from 1999 to 2004 the number of people receiving unemployment benefits for 12 months or more fell by 17%.

The official figures on long-term unemployment, provided by from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which Labor chose to ignore, show that long-term unemployment has fallen by 40% under the Howard Government.

Since March 1996, the number of long-term unemployed as measured by the ABS has fallen from 197,800 to 116,300. Australians should never forget that under Labor long-term unemployment peaked at 329,800 in May 1993.

FaCS figures relied on by the Labor Party include 17% of those on income support for more than five years who were actually doing some part-time work in May 2004. The ABS does not record these people as unemployed and nor should Labor.

In addition 9% of long-term unemployed customers were undertaking part-time study or training in May 2004.

Senator Patterson said: “The Howard Government has created more full-time jobs in the past six months than Labor did in its last six years in office.

“The Australian Government takes the issue of long-term unemployment very seriously and will continue to develop and implement policy which gives people real opportunities for real jobs.

“We will not do what Labor did under the guise of Working Nation and manipulate the statistics by putting the long-term unemployed in costly pretend jobs and then turning back the clock by designating them as newly unemployed.”

Number of Long Term Unemployed

Chart: Number of Long Term Unemployed