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Abbott's $75 million handouts fail to help job seekers

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Campaign Media Release

Minister for Employment Participation Kate Ellis


Tony Abbott’s $75 million cash splash today is an insult to families who are looking for practical employment solutions to the difficult challenges of long term and youth unemployment.

The Coalition’s handouts are cynical and poorly targeted, while Mr Abbott should know that relocation assistance is already available to job seekers. Finding a job for the long-term unemployed is a real issue requiring practical solutions, not cynical handouts with no thought about employers’ needs.

The fact is that 76 per cent of job seekers don’t break any of the job search and welfare compliance rules - the vast majority of job seekers really want to get work.

Mr Abbott’s policy assumes all job seekers are waiting for is a cash incentive before they bother to find a job.

What job seekers need are practical solutions - an investment in job creation projects and an investment in skills and training. Handing out $75 million in cash bonuses which benefits a handful of the population won’t begin to address this issue.

Labor’s plan is about delivering the boost to skills and training and providing assistance to employers who are giving job seekers a chance.

A look back at Mr Abbott’s time as Employment Services Minister in the former Coalition Government (1998-2003) shows average youth unemployment and long-term unemployment was higher than the average rates under Federal Labor.

He oversaw expensive programs that delivered poorer labour market outcomes.

Abbott’s poor record includes:  The average incidence of long-term unemployment was significantly higher than it has been under Federal Labor (24.4 per cent versus 17.2 per cent).  Youth unemployment was higher than under Federal Labor (12.8 per

cent versus 11.1 per cent).  Lower mature age participation rate than under Federal Labor (49.1 per cent versus 61.9 per cent).

 Higher mature age unemployment rate compared to Federal Labor (4.1 per cent versus 2.9 per cent).  Higher average unemployment rate than under Federal Labor (6.5 per cent versus 5.1 per cent).  Lower female participation rate than Federal Labor (54.9 per cent

versus 58.8 per cent).

Rather than cutting down on long-term unemployment, the $75 million handouts will actually serve as an incentive for people to stay unemployed.

If people need to be unemployed for a year before they’re eligible for the handout, what Australia will have is people waiting around until they notch up a year on welfare.

Today’s announcement on relocation assistance continues Mr Abbott’s trend of adopting and re-announcing existing government programs.

We already have a Move 2 Work Scheme that provides practical and financial assistance to unemployed with the costs of relocating for a job or apprenticeship including relocation costs of up to $6,500.

We also have a Wage Connect Scheme that offers employers who employ long-term unemployed a wage subsidy of $6,050 for six months.

This helps deliver the extra training and assistance that employers often need to ensure people who have been out of work for a long time find their feet in their new job and stay there.

Mr Abbott plans to cut at least 12,000 jobs and abolish essential health and education services.