Interview with Ross Stevenson on 3AW

  • Assistant Minister for Employment

ROSS STEVENSON: ...said why don't you just stick it in the rubbish bin. I think it went in the [unclear], if that's legal. And compulsory work for the dole will be reintroduced by the Abbott Government in the tightening of welfare rules, which you'd think – well, if it worked it'd be a good idea, but if it's a rampant appeal to popularism it's not a great idea.

Assistant Minister for Employment is Luke Hartsuyker. Good morning to you, Minister.

LUKE HARTSUYKER: Good morning.

ROSS STEVENSON: Right-o. I'm just trying to think how this works, or whether it might be the law of unintended consequences, that if you get someone who's on the dole and you make them pick up litter from the local park for the local council, the danger is you might be doing the bloke who's currently got a job cleaning up for the local council – you might be doing him out of a job.

LUKE HARTSUYKER: Look, and that's a very good point you raise and we're working very carefully through the process of introducing that enhanced work for the dole scheme, and very mindful of the fact that we don't want to be replacing existing jobs. That's why work for the dole would be in a number, or a couple, of streams.

Firstly, the traditional team-based environment that most people see. Perhaps a group of 10 jobseekers building a walkway or something similar to that. And the second arm of it is to look at work-like placements, perhaps with a not-for-profit organisation, but the intention being that those placements would be in organisations where that would allow them to do things they might not otherwise be able to do.

So rather than looking to replace paid employment, it would be supplementing the ability of a not-for-profit to do what they currently do.

ROSS STEVENSON: Didn't the Howard Government bring in a work for the dole scheme many years ago, and wasn't it eventually abandoned by a later Labor Government, I think? What was the reason for getting rid of it?

LUKE HARTSUYKER: Well, look, Labor has historically hated work for the dole, and there are still some work for the dole placements in place now. But they substantially scaled back the Howard Government's scheme, which was fairly effective in getting more people into jobs, and that's why I want to ensure that a new scheme would be focused on imparting work skills that help people get a job.

Many employers tell me that a lot of the jobseekers that present before them lack the necessary “soft skills" that you and I might take for granted, such as turning up every day on time or being dressed appropriately, and so on and so forth.

So work for the dole has an ability to impart some of those “soft skills”, but also more specific skills, perhaps in a range of areas, and that could be complemented by training going with that placement, so that we effectively give jobseekers a greater opportunity to get into work.

ROSS STEVENSON: Good on you, Minister. Thanks for your time this morning.


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