Australian government withholds report on death of unemployed teenager
John Harris and Oscar Grenfell
1 April 2017
The federal Liberal-National government of Malcolm Turnbull continues to block the release of an internal review into the tragic death of Josh Park-Fing in April last year. The 18-year-old was killed in an accident while participating in the punitive Work for the Dole program, which forces the unemployed into unpaid, and often unsafe labour, in order to receive their poverty-level Newstart welfare payments.
The report into Park-Fing’s death by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland was given to Australia’s employment minister, Michaelia Cash, in September 2016. Since then, the government has refused to release its contents, and other documents, in a bid to cover-up the conditions that led to the accident and those that face about 100,000 other Work for the Dole participants.
Park-Fing’s Work for the Dole placement was rubbish collection at the Toowoomba showgrounds in south-east Queensland. He reportedly fell from a flatbed trailer after a tractor towing it slipped a gear and jolted. The teenager suffered critical head injuries and died on the way to hospital.
According to the Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU), one person at the site had expressed concerns to the supervisor about driving a tractor. He was allegedly told that he would be penalised if he did not drive the vehicle.
Park-Fing’s placement was overseen by NEATO Employment Services, a private firm contracted by the federal government to manage Work for the Dole. Other contractors include Max Solutions and Mission Providence, which are both subsidiaries of US corporations with annual revenues of over a billion dollars.
The Department of Employment replied last August to an AUWU…