- Crackdown continues on welfare benefits with jobless forced to work for keep
- By NATASHA BIT
- Contributed by: Harro ( 1 article in 2014 )
JOBLESS Tasmanians will be forced to work for free collecting rubbish, maintaining parks and volunteering in aged-care homes, as the Federal Government expands its work-for-the-dole scheme this year.
Anyone who turns down a voluntary job close to home will lose the dole under the Abbott Government's tough new back-to-work plan.
Local councils will be encouraged to recruit volunteers from the ranks of the unemployed, to pitch in with community chores including rubbish collection and park maintenance.
Non-profit aged-care homes and charities are also expected to offer unpaid work to the unemployed.
The "dole jobs" are likely to be limited to three-month stints, to prevent employers replacing their permanent workforce with unemployed volunteers.
Assistant Minister for Employment Luke Hartsuyker, above, said the Government was "very focused" on expanding work-for-the dole.
Mr Hartsuyker said the scheme would be compulsory.
"I'm looking at new and innovative ways to involve people in work-for-the-dole," he said yesterday.
"We are talking to not-for-profit entities about creating work-like placements for job-seekers so they can gain skills.
"We think everyone who is capable of working should be working."
Mr Hartsuyker also flagged a crackdown on dole recipients who turn down jobs.
He said anyone who refused to work would lose their Newstart payment.
Tasmania's Council of Social Service has accused the Federal Government of trying to solve its budget crisis by punishing vulnerable Australians.
TasCOSS chief executive Tony Reidy said the impending changes to the work-for-the-dole scheme would hurt the many Tasmanians already struggling to survive on Newstart.
"The current Newstart allowance is $35 a day, which is 60 per cent below the poverty line.
"The idea that anyone would seek to remain on Newstart allowance by choice for a long time, there's simply no evidence to back that up," he said.
From July 1 this year, the Government will pay the long-term unemployed aged 18 to 30 a $2500 "job commitment bonus" if they find a job and stay working for 12 months. If they remain working for at least two years, they will be paid an extra $4000 bonus.
The Government expects the scheme will lure 36,000 young Australians into paid work each year, at a cost to taxpayers of $157 million over three years.
The Government will also pay employers up to $3250 for each mature-age worker they hire, aged 50 or older.
It estimates 22,000 older workers each year will find a job as a result, at a cost to taxpayers of $197 million over three years.
The long-term jobless -- those out of work longer than a year -- will be paid up to $6000 to cover their relocation costs if they move to a regional area to take up a job.
The Government has set aside $39 million for the relocation scheme over the next three years, but expects just 680 people a year to use it.
Tasmania has the nation's highest unemployment rate of 7.7 per cent.
Below from 3AW Radio Victoria
But Assistant Employment Minister Luke Hartsuyker told Ross and John payments would be cancelled for anyone who turned down a job close to home.
"The rule of thumb is 90 minutes, I think it's very important that when someone is offered a job, they take that job," he said.
"(And) the government will be taking a very dim view on those people who refuse jobs.
"Quite clearly many people in major metro areas commute very long travel times to get to work."
But a leading academic told Nick McCallum the scheme would not work.
Professor of economics Jeff Borland said past Work for the Dole studies indicated unemployed participants moved off payments more slowly than people who hadn't participated in Work for the Dole.
"In the medium to long-term they really have little or sometimes a negative effect on getting unemployed people back to work," he said.
"Because they tend to have significant disadvantage in terms of their level of skills, and you're really only going to create sustainable employment for those people by upgrading their skills substantially.
"The other reason is the jobs have to be available."