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Labor weak on welfare to work.



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Thu, 1st May 2008 LABOR WEAK ON WELFARE TO WORK

Senator the Hon Helen Coonan Shadow Minister for Human Services

Shadow Human Services Minister Senator Helen Coonan has slammed the Labor Government's continued windback of Welfare to Work reforms, following the announcement that Centrelink job assessment interviews with welfare recipients will be scrapped in the upcoming Federal Budget.

The face to face interviews, implemented by the Howard Government, ensured unemployed people were actively seeking work in a record high employment market. Centrelink officer interviews ensure that Welfare to Work participants actually attend job interviews with prospective employers.

The concept also allows feedback to help participants better themselves for future interviews.

This latest move follows Labor's April announcement to overlook serious breaches by welfare recipients, asking Centrelink to continue payments to those who fail to attend scheduled job interviews.

''At a time of such low unemployment, when so many thousands of jobs are not being filled, why is Labor choosing to go soft on welfare cheats?'' Senator Coonan asked.

''Mutual obligation requirements are there to foster a culture of working and self-reliance and satisfaction that comes from having a job.

''Welfare to Work is not designed to punish people. Rather it's designed to be an incentive for people to seek work, while at the same time ensuring dole cheats don't get a free ride.

''Anyone who wants a job today should be able to get one. This move is not benefiting anyone except the welfare cheats.

''It is not fair that Australian taxpayers are supporting those on welfare when employers are crying out for workers to fill available jobs,'' Senator Coonan said.