The first of a series of AUWU articles on government graft and corruption as it relates to welfare and work in Australia
By Brenton Thomas, AUWU Member
While the government is defending its latest debacle in the name of budget repair its worth remembering the billions of dollars of graft that friends and families from both sides of politics have pocketed over the last twenty years courtesy of the government’s privatisation of employment services and education.
Graft is the adding on to the cost for something not needed. It is payment for unnecessary items. In the construction industry, it is paying for Soprano style labourers who sit around doing nothing. It is payment for ten tons of concrete on a job that only needs one. In the governments employment services industry it is paying from the public purse for companies that do nothing.
The rort is fairly simple and has changed little over a series of contracts over the years. When you become unemployed the government will require you to register with a private Job Services Agency that will be paid when you find work or enter training – regardless of whether they found the job for you or not.
They will use the lowest paid staff they can get away with who will diligently tick boxes, generate evidence of activity and invoice the government. It’s a simple license to print money that feeds off the normal background churn of people moving in and out of jobs.
The beneficiaries of this rort look like a who’s who of Australia’s elite. Sarina Russo the ‘Successful Business Woman’ that Sussan Ley was caught out visiting on the taxpayers dime. Teresa Rein wife of former Prime Minster Kevin Rudd and founder and managing director of the employment services and training company Ingeus. David Gonski author of the Gonski report also with Ingeus as chairman.
Not to be outdone by the A-list elites we can add in former public servants who presumably weren’t hired because of their knowledge of the private sector. Darren Hooper from US based Max Employment, formerly of the Department of Employment and the Department of the Prime Minister whose contacts with government awards Max employment the dubious honour of managing to get the Department of Employment to overlook significant allegations of fraud and be granted the lions’ share of the new deed.
Not content with money for nothing, the use of punitive employment policies together with VET-FEE Help take milking the public purse to levels of a fine art. The longer you are unemployed the more onerous the demands on you will become until you are in their offices every day of the week applying for Jobs that aren’t there on pain of losing your benefit if you don’t comply. You will be bullied, harassed and lied to systemically.
To escape punishment of course you can do a training course – which will be paid for by the VET-FEE budget and if your agency is affiliated with a training company they will now start earning big dollars.
This is against both the letter and the principal of the Law and Deed and occurs with full knowledge of the Department of Employment. You though are signed on with a private company and as such are outside the protection of both the Ombudsman’s Office and Administrative Affairs Tribunal. To seek remedy, you need to sue – but you are unemployed so can’t afford that and the government has cut the funding to the Community Legal services just in case you thought you had any rights at all.
Feeling powerless, disenfranchised, cheated, abused and sick and tired of greedy politicians and self-appointed elites? The first thing you can do is make noise. Take some lessons from the Greens and the Indigenous groups. Get involved. Join groups such as the Australian Unemployed Workers Union, various facebook groups. Every time someone in Canberra does anything you don’t like make sure a hundred other people hear you.
You have a legal right to complain. So lodge complaints. When they don’t respond to your complaint lodge a complaint about the lack of response to the complaint you just lodged. Make life as miserable for the bastards as they make yours.
Demand a full time independent Federal ICAC.
Above all the most powerful thing you can do is use your vote – with a twist.
If you are happy with the political system then vote for your local representative no matter what party they belong to. If you are dissatisfied, then vote against the sitting representative. Ignore the political party even if that means you vote against your traditional vote. The objective is to disrupt the process. To send a great big Trumpian middle finger in the direction of Canberra.
Out of the house!
Vote the Bastards Out!