Senator Matt Canavan slams ‘dole bludgers’ for playing Xbox

A senator has accused unemployed people of ‘playing Xbox on the couch’ instead of wanting to work for a living.

Matt Canavan praised the government’s new rules for JobSeekers to make sure they accept a job if they are offered one.

‘There are people out there who are bludging on the dole. I don’t mind saying frankly. There are lots of people,’ the Nationals politician told ABC News.

‘We have seen them in the last year that people taking JobKeeper and JobSeeker and not taking work. Now, we can’t just keep doing that. We can’t keep paying people to sit on the couch and play the Xbox.’

Matt Canavan (pictured) has slammed 'dole bludgers' for playing Xbox instead of working for a living

Matt Canavan (pictured) has slammed ‘dole bludgers’ for playing Xbox instead of working for a living

Scott Morrison on Tuesday announced unemployed Australians will receive an extra $50 a fortnight when the coronavirus boost expires next month.

However, they will have to attend face-to-face appointments with officials, make 20 job searches a month and take a short training course or do work experience after six months on welfare.

Welfare groups and the Greens wanted a much greater increase to the dole – but the Prime Minister has ruled out a higher amount.

A source told the Sydney Morning Herald the $50 increase was a ‘take it or leave it’ offer. Labor has said they will not stand in the way of the increase. 

Senator Canavan said he supported the increase, which will cost $9billion over four years, but resisted any higher payment to avoid the government getting into more debt. 

As part of the welfare reforms, the government will also set up a hotline for employers to dob in someone who rejects a job they are qualified for.

‘Every person we get back into a job means a lower cost to the taxpayer. That’s why the mutual obligation is so important,’ Mr Morrison said. 

Pictured: People are seen in Centrelink queues in Gold Coast back in April 2020

Pictured: People are seen in Centrelink queues in Gold Coast back in April 2020

Pictured: People are seen in Centrelink queues in Gold Coast back in April 2020

What are the changes to the dole? 

The changes include:

• permanently increasing the rate of working-age payments by $50 a fortnight from 1 April 2021, benefiting 1.95 million Australians;

• permanently increasing the income-free earnings to $150 per fortnight for JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance (other) from 1 April 2021;

• temporarily extending the waiver of the Ordinary Waiting Period for certain payments for a further three months to 30 June 2021;

• temporarily extending the expanded eligibility criteria for JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance (other) for those required to self-isolate or care for others as a result of COVID-19 to 30 June 2021.

There will also be changes to the Mutual Obligation Scheme:

• job seekers will be required to search for a minimum of 15 jobs a month from early April, increasing to 20 jobs per month from 1 July;

• an employer reporting line will be established to refer Jobseekers who are not genuine about their job search or decline the offer of a job;

• some job seekers will be required to participate in work for the dole after six months;

• job seekers can choose to participate in an approved intensive short course instead of participating in work for the dole;

• job seekers return to compulsory face-to-face services with Jobactive providers;

• increased auditing of job applications to ensure job seekers are making genuine applications.

Source: PMO 

The new rate, which will kick in when the $150 JobSeeker supplement runs out at the end of March, will provide an extra $3.57 a day.

The increase lifts JobSeeker to 41.2 per cent of the national minimum wage and will cost $9billion over four years.

Mr Morrison said: ‘We are moving from short-term emergency measures to long-term arrangements that people can rely on should they find themselves out of work.

‘Our social safety net is a social contract. It is a contract between the government and Australians, but it is also a contract between Australians, and what you’ve heard today is about getting the balance of that right.’  

Cassandra Goldie from the Australian Council of Social Service said the permanent increase should have at least matched the temporary top-up payment.

‘Anything below where the rate is now is a betrayal,’ she said.

Without government intervention the unemployment benefit would have returned to its pre-pandemic rate of $565 a fortnight, or $40 a day.

Greens leader Adam Bandt described the increase as ‘a bloody insult’.

‘This decision will keep people going hungry. It will keep unemployed people facing homelessness,’ he said.

‘We must raise the rate above the poverty line.’ 

Those on welfare will have to fulfill more rigorous obligations to taxpayers under Scott Morrison's rules

Those on welfare will have to fulfill more rigorous obligations to taxpayers under Scott Morrison's rules

Those on welfare will have to fulfill more rigorous obligations to taxpayers under Scott Morrison’s rules

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the $50 increase was decided upon because it provides more support without disincentivising work. 

‘We needed to make sure that we created a system and improved a system so that the incentives to take up work were there, and the disincentives were removed,’ she said.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Labor will not stand in the way of the increase.

‘It’s important there be a permanent increase and that be done as a matter of urgency, just to provide certainty for people as well,’ he told reporters.

‘I don’t quite understand why this government has held back on this announcement.’

The unemployment benefit rate has not been increased in real terms since the 1990s. 

There are about 1.2 million people on JobSeeker payments.

Senator Ruston believes hundreds of thousands of welfare recipients are single, have no children and no medical barrier to full-time work.

Senator Ruston said various sectors were crying out for more staff.

‘Whether it may be a short-term job in agriculture or casual work in the caring industry because modelling tells us that people who report earnings, even just a small amount, are at least twice as likely to exit the social security system,’ she said.

With AAP 

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Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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