Burke pledges point tweak
Employment Minister Tony Burke says it is “too late” to scrap changes to unemployment benefits, but he will attempt to fix them.
Australia’s previous LNP government put in place changes to Jobseeker mutual obligation requirements, introducing a Points Based Activation System (PBAS).
That new system will be enacted by Australia’s new ALP federal government, requiring people on JobSeeker payments to hit a certain amount of points monthly, with different allocations for applying for a job (5 points), doing paid work (5 points for every 5 hours), and other activities such as relocating for a job (100 points).
Mr Burke says the new scheme is flawed, but there is not enough time to prevent it rolling out.
“It's actually too late to not have a points system at all,” he said.
“It's about getting inside it and making it logical, and making sure that when all these contracts take effect in a couple of weeks' time, we've actually got a system that helps long-term unemployed people.”
However, he said the government would seek changes to ensure the new scheme does not leave job-seekers worse off.
The government believes the broad concept of the new points-based scheme is good, but needs tweaks.
“What the government has designed, some of it is more punitive than actually getting the job done,” Mr Burke said.
“We want to make sure - and I'll be changing it over the course of the next week - to make sure that we can have a system that's designed to get people into work, rather than some media stunt to punish people.
“If you're doing a full-time course, be it an English-language course or a course to get yourself job-ready, that still doesn't get you there [to 100 points].
“So you're still having to apply for other jobs, which if you apply for and get an interview, you then can't finish your course.”
He said simply applying for jobs should not be the only measure.
“Being able to take into account if someone is getting a forklift license, a drivers' license, things like that — they are valid things to take into account,” he said.
The new scheme comes into place from July 4, meaning the government has just a fortnight to make the changes it deems necessary.