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Coalition to oppose watering down of compliance regime.

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Dr Andrew Southcott MP Shadow Minister for Employment Participation, Training and Sport

The Liberal and National Party Coalition will today vote against the compliance measures proposed in the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Employment Services Reform) Bill 2008.

Labor’s proposed changes would result in the most lenient compliance regime since unemployment benefits were introduced in 1945. Under Labor’s proposal, job seekers who fail to meet their mutual obligations would lose 1 day’s welfare payment. A job seeker will be able to miss 6 days Work for the Dole, or 6 job interviews in a 6 month period without a valid excuse before they are referred to Centrelink for assessment. This will then determine whether they should lose their payment for 8 weeks, or if some other action should be taken.

The current compliance system was introduced to help break the cycle of welfare dependency, recognising there are still too many long-term unemployed job seekers, who appeared destined to remain on welfare indefinitely. This system has been successful, helping reduce the number of long term unemployed job seekers from 205,212 in June 2006, to 146,533 by August 2008.

Appropriate compliance measures establish a clear link between the receipt of an income support payment and the obligation to look for work. Labor’s proposed changes will result in increased welfare dependency and inter-generational unemployment. The Liberal and National Party Coalition are unable to support these changes.