October 7, 2014 – 10:58AM
National political reporter
Minister for Employment Eric Abetz says the backflip shows the government is listening to feedback. Photo: Peter Mathew
The federal government had wanted the tougher regime to work alongside another contentious budget measure which would force some young job seekers under 30 to wait six months before receiving the dole.
But Minister for Employment Eric Abetz confirmed on Tuesday the government “has made some changes” to the scheme and will now keep the required number of monthly job applications to the current rate of 20.
Job seekers would have had to double the number of jobs they apply for each month under the dumped plan.
Senator Abetz told the ABC the government had listened to the community and accepted forcing the unemployed to apply for 40 positions a month could “diminish” the value of genuine job applications.
“We understand that for business this is a burden,” he said.
Speaking in Canberra, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the decision did not constitute a backdown.
“Some people might like to put a pejorative on it. I would like to say isn’t this the whole point of consultation? Consultation that can’t result in any changes is meaningless. The consultations that this government has will be fair dinkum”.
The government was inundated with negative feedback when the plan was first announced earlier this year. Most of the 60 submissions it later received were against the proposal.
In July, Senator Abetz said making job seekers apply for 40 positions a month would be the equivalent of “one [application] in the morning” and “one in the afternoon”.
“In general terms… asking somebody to seek a job in the morning and one in the afternoon is not too much to ask,” he said at the time.
However, the first sign the minister may be retreating from the idea emerged in August, when Senator Abetz noted a “degree of community reaction” to the idea.
A spokesman for Senator Abetz said dropping the plan showed the government was forming policy in consultation with the community instead of “on the run” like the former Labor government.
Last month, Parliament’s joint human rights committee found the plan to strip people aged under 30 of the dole for six months unless they are in training or in work was “incompatible with the right to social security and the right to an adequate standard of living”, and “incompatible with the rights to equality and non-discrimination on the basis of age”.
Labor’s workplace spokesman, Brendan O’Connor, told Fairfax Media the government had conducted a “humiliating backdown”.
“If they had chosen to speak with employer and community groups before announcing [the 40 jobs a month plan] they would have known this was bad policy,” he said.
“With a simple calculation it should have been clear to everyone that 30 million applications being sent to employers each month was as absurd as it was unfair.”
He urged Senator Abetz to “pick up the phone” and consult before announcing bad policy.
Source : The Sydney Morning Herald