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Transcript of radio interview with Marius Benson: ABC NewsRadio: 10 June 2010: unemployment payments and travel time.



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Senator the Hon Mark Arbib

Minister for Employment Participation Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Government Service Delivery 10 June, 2010

Radio Interview - ABC NewsRadio

INTERVIEW ABC NEWSRADIO 824AM THURSDAY 10 JUNE 2010

ISSUES: Unemployment payments and travel time

HOST: To events at home and the Coalition is considering a tougher approach to unemployment payments which would require benefit recipients to accept any job that was within two hours of their home. At the moment people on the dole have to accept a job offer within 90 minutes of their home. The four hour round trip is one of several types of welfare measures being considered by the Opposition.

For a Government view on the plans Marius Benson is speaking to the Employment Participation Minister Mark Arbib.

MARIUS BENSON: Mark Arbib thanks for joining NewsRadio this morning. Now Kevin Andrews the Opposition spokesman in this area has said many people face commutes of maybe four hours a day. It is not that unusual and it’s a reasonable level to, a reasonable standard to expect of people receiving the dole.

MARK ARBIB: This is just another thought bubble from the Coalition. A couple of months ago Mr Abbott said he was going to throw 25 year olds off Newstart and send them over to Western Australia so they can work in the mines. That never happened. That is not a policy and I don’t think this is a policy. This just sounds like a way to fill some space. They didn’t have any policy today so they just rolled out this.

Already, job seekers are travelling a great deal, a great journey to get to work and there is nothing to stop a job seeker taking a job that requires travel over 90 minutes a day. But, what the Federal Government has in place, and this is what Tony Abbott had in place when he was the former Employment Minister, is we won’t penalise you or force you to get up at 4am in the morning and get home at 10pm because your journey to work is extensive. And as I’ve said in the past there is no evidence to suggest that this 90 minute rule is getting in the way or impeding people getting into employment.

MARIUS BENSON: What about the general suggestion that 90 minutes is a fairly long time to travel but in fact two hours is not atypical these days for people to commute, just push up the limit from 90 minutes to two hours as the required level of people who are receiving unemployment benefits.

MARK ARBIB: There’s nothing to stop job seekers actually doing that sort of travel already…

MARIUS BENSON: Sure but making it compulsory is the suggestion, that they be required.

MARK ARBIB: And it’s already happening. In communities, dormitory communities, communities where people are travelling and it is regular and usual then job seekers are also expected to undertake that travel whether the 90 minute rule is there or not, so these things are already happening.

And again I talk to the job providers every day and they are telling me that this is not an issue, it’s not a problem and it is not impeding their efforts to get people back into employment.

What’s more important is that we don’t just talk tough, that we focus on getting people into jobs and that is what the new job network is doing. When you compare Job Services Australia, the job network that replaced the Coalition’s model, we are already 13 per cent up in terms of employment outcomes on where the Coalition was. And the reason why we are doing well is because we are actually providing work-focused training and proper work experience that prepares workers for jobs that are there.

So we are dealing with job seekers one on one, giving them personalised assistance and making sure they have access to the training they need to get them into real jobs. Not just talking tough like the Coalition, but actually doing what is required. Effective policy making.

MARIUS BENSON: Is the Opposition reflecting a general view in the community, a widely held view, that unemployment benefits and welfare more generally is too readily available and some tightening up is appropriate?

MARK ARBIB: Well, there are always stereotypes surrounding job seekers but again when I’m talking to job providers and job seekers these people want to work. Job seekers, no one wants to sit around all day, people want to get in their jobs. What we’ve got to do is make sure that our job network is effective and that’s why the reforms are so important. That is why having the training places are important.

In the last Budget the Government rolled out a $660 million training and skills package and that is about getting industry and business to lead the way. We need industry and business especially in areas where there are skill shortages to start providing leadership, pulling together consortiums with job providers, with training organisations and we’ll provide the necessary support to make the changes and get people in a job.

MARIUS BENSON: Mark Arbib thank you very much.

MARK ARBIB: Thank you Marius.

HOST: That’s the Employment Participation Minister Mark Arbib with Marius Benson there.

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