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Tuesday, 29 May 1984
Page: 2096

(Question No. 718)

Senator Bolkus asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 8 March 1984:

(1) Is it true that a recent alteration to unemployment benefit forms requires unemployed people to list the names of employers with whom they have applied for work in the two weeks between lodging each form.

(2) What is the reason for the alteration since the previous form required unemployed people to explain generally their attempts to find work.

(3) How does the Government justify introducing a requirement that unemployed people in receipt of unemployment benefits must list job applications every two weeks when the January 1984 figures show that there are jobs for only one in ten unemployed.

Senator Grimes —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) It is true that the unemployment benefit form requires unemployed persons to list employers contacted during the fortnight covered by the form but it is not true that this is due to a recent alteration to forms. A question along these lines was introduced in the form in 1979. Any changes to the most recent print of the form have been made only to clarify the question and simplify its completion. For example, instructions on the front of the form indicating that questions relate to the period covered by the form are reiterated on the back of the form.

(2) In 1979 the Social Security Act was amended to require an unemployed person to satisfy the delegate of the Director-General that, among other things, he or she has taken reasonable steps to obtain suitable paid work throughout the relevant period. This relevant period is the period, usually a fortnight, covered by the form. The purpose of the question was to enable gathering of information necessary to determine whether reasonable steps had been taken to get work in that period.

(3) The present Government did not introduce the requirement but, having regard to the law, regards it as a reasonable way of administering this aspect of the ' work test'. In deciding whether a person has taken reasonable steps to obtain suitable paid work during the fortnight covered by the form, the number and type of job opportunities available to the person is kept in mind. In addition relevant factors such as the person's age, qualifications, work history, mobility and geographical location are taken into account.