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Transcript of doorstop: 14 October 2008: Work for the Dole and the compliance regime.



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Tue, 14th October 2008 SOUTHCOTT DOORSTOP - WORK FOR THE DOLE AND THE COMPLIANCE REGIME

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

Andrew Southcott:

Good morning. Well the Government has introduced legislation into the Parliament which will substantially trash the Work for the Dole regime. It will now be possible for people to miss job interviews, miss a day’s Work for the Dole, and the only penalty will be losing one day’s welfare payment - there will be no wider penalty. It will be even possible for someone to miss 6 job interviews in a six month period before there is any wider review by Centrelink. Now the whole regime of Mutual Obligation was very important in developing the notion that there were rights and responsibilities with welfare and it was very important in getting unemployment down to a level in the low 4 percents.

Question:

(inaudible)… it sounds almost a little bit human what you’re describing.

Andrew Southcott:

Well the things we introduced - the compliance regime we introduced, was very important to break the cycle of welfare dependency. Significantly the Labour Party in the United Kingdom has recognised that actually a tougher compliance system is what is required to get people to actively look for work. That is an approach we took, we were unapologetic about it. It was very important in reducing long term unemployed, that can be demonstrated by the figures over the last couple of years.

Question:

Unemployment is going to rise due to the world’s economic crisis. Is this really the time to be tough on people who can’t find work?

Andrew Southcott:

Well one of the problems with the Government’s new employment services system is that there’s very little focus on early intervention. There’s very little service provided in the first three months. In the first three months people will just get a résumé and a bit of information about the local labour market. They are actually withdrawing- they are finding savings of $350 million in employment services. They are spending- they are planning to spend a whole lot less on employment services at a time when there are up to 300,000 Australians expected to lose their jobs. This is something the Government really needs to have a look at. They designed this employment services system at a time when we had a strong labour market, when we had long term unemployed coming down significantly and they now need to review it in light of the changing labour market.

Question:

Andrew, there are reports of a multi-billion dollar cash handout for families before Christmas to help stimulate the economy is on the cards. What’s your message to the Government?

Andrew Southcott:

Well we were asking in the parliament - I mean the IMF has recommended this. But this is very important. But we’ve also been talking about a $30 increase for single aged pensioners. We think that’s a very important step. The Government’s had advice on this for 6 months and we’ve been urging them to act for months and months now.

Question:

So is your advice to bring it on, in terms of measures to help stimulate the economy (inaudible)?

Andrew Southcott:

Well in Question Time yesterday we asked why won’t they bring forward the tax cuts we had proposed for the 1st July next year. That’s the other thing. The tax cuts that Labor are introducing are the ones that were announced by John Howard and Peter Costello 12 months to the day tomorrow. There are tax cuts - they’re very good tax cuts. We cut a lot of tax over the last 8 years and as a Party we’ve always been in favour of cutting income tax.

Question:

So in other words, you’re saying bring it on, bring on measures to help stimulate the economy?

Andrew Southcott:

Absolutely. And that was the question from Joe Hockey in Parliament.

Question:

What are your views though?

Andrew Southcott:

Well I’m the Shadow Minister for Employment Participation, and Training and Sport, so I’ll confine my remarks to employment participation, training and sport.

Question:

Would it help all of those workers out there with jobs who would get a bit of a cash benefit out of it?

Andrew Southcott:

Have you got any other questions?

Question:

Malcolm Turnbull seems to be doing good in the polls - better than Brendan Nelson. You must be pretty pleased?

Andrew Southcott:

Well, those polls are encouraging by politics and federal elections are like a marathon. It’s now two years to the next election, but the Opposition is in good shape. It’s good to see the high satisfaction ratings- all of those things are good and we can be encouraged by them and the Opposition’s in good shape but it’s a marathon. We’ve got over 100 weeks until the next federal election.

Question:

‘Perhaps there should be more bipartisanship more often if (inaudible) polls?

Andrew Southcott:

Well, we’ll see. Thank you.