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Thursday, 15 May 2014
Page: 3913

Employment


Mr PASIN (Barker) (14:39): My question is to the Minister for Social Services. What is the government doing to encourage young Australians to enter the workforce?


Mr ANDREWS (MenziesMinister for Social Services) (14:39): I thank the member for Barker for his question and I commend him for the great representation of people in south-east South Australia that he brings to this parliament and of their interests as his constituents. This government believes that young people should be learning or earning—learning or earning. That is why we are going to tighten access to unemployment benefits, the Newstart benefit, for young people in Australia under the age of 30. We will be doing that by applying a waiting period of up to six months, depending on a person's work history, to become eligible for the Newstart or the unemployment benefit. The important point about this is that if a young person returns to school or takes up training or study they are exempt from these provisions—totally exempt from these provisions—and they will get the support that the Minister for Education was pointing out in his previous answer in this place.

But we also recognise that there are a range of circumstances in which people may be vulnerable and therefore they should be exempt from this provision as well. So single parents in receipt of the family tax benefit will be exempt. Principal carers will be exempt. People who are not able to work 30 hours a week—they too will be exempt. Part-time apprentices will be exempt. Participants in the Disability Employment Services scheme—they too will be exempt. And of course stream 3 and 4 job seekers will be exempt.

Mr Mitchell: Who's in it?

Mr ANDREWS: I am asked the question by the member opposite, 'Who's in it?' That is a good question, because the answer is: this scheme is targeted to work-ready young people; and, if they are not working, then we want them to be in training so that they can get a job in the future. That is what this scheme is clearly about.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr ANDREWS: The comments coming from the other side of the chamber mark the contrast between the Labor opposition and this government, because we have a Labor opposition that wants young Australians to be welfare ready, and this is a government that wants them to be work ready.