The government has defended its latest proposed overhaul of the work-for-the-dole program, calling it an urgently needed reform that taxpayers expect.
Labor sceptical about work-for-the-dole
Tough new requirements for job seekers are "ideology fueled" and not evidence based says Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh.
The new job placement program, set to begin on July 1, 2015, will force job seekers to look for 40 jobs a month and perform up to 25 hours of community service. Details of the three-year, $5.1 billion job placement program were released on Monday.
Under the Abbott government's expanded work for the dole plans, unemployed people aged up to 49 will have to perform some work for jobless payments.
Job seekers younger than 30 would have to work 25 hours a week under the expanded program, while those between 30 and 49 will be asked to do 15 hours' work a week.
Those aged 50-60 will undertake 15 hours a week of an approved activity, such as training.
Assistant Employment Minister Luke Hartsuyker said taxpayers expected the unemployed to be looking for work.
''It's not unreasonable to expect job seekers to be out there looking for work, every working day,'' he told ABC radio on Monday.
''Work for the dole is just part of a range of strategies that the government is putting in place to improve the prospects of job seekers to get into work and, at the same time, give back to the community.''
Mr Hartsuyker said there was urgent need for a more efficient job services program as the current model was ineffective and ''mired in red tape''. He later told reporters in Melbourne that further legislation would not be needed for the vast majority of changes.
Work for the dole is already an optional program for all job seekers. As part of the recent budget, the government introduced mandatory work for the dole in 18 high unemployment trial locations. That program applies to long-term unemployed people who are 30 or younger.
The government will not wait for the outcome of those trials to extend the program to job seekers across the country.
Job seekers aged under 30 will be ineligible for payments for six months after applying for benefits despite taking part in work for the dole and being required to apply for jobs.
''We don't want to be waiting forever to implement these important changes,'' Mr Hartsuyker said.
But Labor criticised the plans, accusing the government of tearing apart the principles of the mutual obligation system. The new arrangements will mean job seekers under 30 will receive no welfare for six months but will still be required to door-knock for jobs.
Opposition employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor told Fairfax Media that the government should ''focus on creating jobs - like they promised''.
''Where is the Prime Minister's plan for jobs? Tony Abbott's discredited scheme won't help people into work,'' Mr O'Connor said.
''Last time they tried this trick, they actually increased the jobless rate.
''In return for receiving support, of course young people should complete certain duties and look for work.
''But to force someone who is receiving absolutely no government support to apply for 40 jobs every four weeks is counter-productive, cruel and unnecessary.''
Mr O'Connor said he supported the idea of removing red tape for job service providers, but only if it was done in consultation with industry.
Greens leader Christine Milne said this would worsen a prejudice against unemployed people that assumes they are not looking for work.
"I can tell you that is not the case," she told reporters in Hobart on Monday.
Senator Milne claimed it would be very difficult for jobseekers to meet the government's requirements in tough jobs markets, making people "feel even worse about themselves than they already do." She also called for the Newstart allowance to be raised by $50 a week.
Under the government's proposal, jobseekers will be required to report the 40 job applications to their employment services provider.
These providers will also be rewarded for getting people into short-term work for periods of four, 12 and 26 weeks.
Wage subsidies will be expanded for mature age workers, and extended to young job seekers under 30 and the long-term unemployed.
- with AAP