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Job seekers to be forced to search for 40 jobs a month as Abbott government toughens obligations for unemployed


Fergus Hunter

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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.

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The government has defended its latest proposed overhaul of the work-for-the-dole program, calling it an urgently needed reform that taxpayers expect.

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.

Assistant Employment Minister Luke Hartsuyker has revealed expanded work for the dole plans.

Assistant Employment Minister Luke Hartsuyker has revealed expanded work for the dole plans. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

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

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  • Never mind the fact that capitalism is unable to provide a situation where there is 0% unemployment. Take away the carrots like affordable education, bring out the big stick and slog the unemployed even harder. Events in Europe and the Middle East have distracted us from the class war raging here at home.

    Homage to Catalonia
    Date and time
    July 28, 2014, 9:13AM
    • why cant we increase taxes on rich ppl rather then target the vurnerable and unemployed..
      increase the tax on rich to over 50 % and help the poor and needy.

      Western Sydney
      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 9:41AM
    • Easy target for the liberals...they kick the poor and unemployed every time they are in power. I am confused though...if they are serious about Aussie jobs why aren't they stopping the 457 visa rort - why are they letting companies employ OS citizens for cheap labour??.. and why have they decimated the public service...why have they made higher education more expensive. Mr Abbott you cannot have it both ways - you are supposed to create jobs, not make unemployed people do work for nothing and apply for jobs that don't exist.

      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 9:53AM
    • you're not supposed to "mention the class war" whilst the liberals are winning it

      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 9:54AM
    • There is nothing wrong with capitalism. I think I should bring it to your attention that we aren't living in a free market capitalist environment. We have crony-capitalism at the top with inside deals and no-bid contracts and of course socialism at the bottom, with exorbitant income tax rates and 30+% of annual expenditure going to welfare.

      In capitalism there is no such thing as corporates being too big to fail or jail. That should be the first alarm-bell for you. Also if you read throughout history or even texts like Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, you will see that capitalists always subject the citizenry to socialism as a mechanism of control whilst calling capitalism evil despite the fact that historically it has been the only engine of prosperity. If you want to blame something for the lack of jobs, blame the free trade agreements our Parliament endorses in bipartisanship.

      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 9:56AM
    • Too many people in this country know how to use the system and get dole and disability pension and so on. It is completely UNFAIR that the taxpayers money is wasted like this. Can someone please fix the system,

      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 9:58AM
    • The claim is made that governments cannot create jobs, private industry does that. Governments are there to lead by developing constructive policies which promote creativity. Mindless belt tightening will not change our culture of making every post a winning post and adhering to a minimalist/compliance approach to everything. Where are Tony Abbott's policies which promote a better future for Australia ? When are we going to seen some creative leadership ?

      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 10:02AM
    • +1

      Comment of the day.

      Red Pony
      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 11:57AM
    • Well said. Maybe the homeless should start camping out in front of the offices and homes of LNP ministers. At the moment people hide in shame but shame should fall on the ministers of this government for the treatment of Australia's citizens.

      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 12:21PM
    • +1. Summed it up beautifully.

      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 2:58PM

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