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Thursday, 7 December 2017
Page: 10147

Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (18:13): In terms of what will actually occur, there will be two levels of assessment, as I just outlined. First is the assessment by the employment services provider after the third failure—you're still in the demerits phase at that stage—and then there is an assessment by DHS after the fourth failure. In terms of your previous questions, what all of that is intended to do is discover any serious issues at the earliest opportunity and allow tailoring of requirements so that jobseekers don't have trouble meeting those requirements. As you know, jobseekers who do have a reasonable excuse for not meeting requirements will not be penalised.

Existing protections for the 200,000 jobseekers who have some sort of exemption from their mutual obligations or are fully meeting their obligations through approved activities will also be preserved. If a jobseeker does reach the three-strikes phase and again fails to meet their requirements, no penalty will be applied if they have a reasonable excuse for their failure. As is currently the case, all financial penalty decisions will be made by DHS and not by providers. As you are aware, we've also ensured that jobseekers will be able to continue to appeal against the financial penalties that have been put in place, first to a Centrelink-authorised review officer and then to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. So, again, there are safeguards built in along the way to ensure that you don't get to or limit the possibility of getting to that final phase.