Young people have effectively had access to welfare benefits stolen from them in the budget through the Liberals’ “earn or learn” measures. Anyone under 30 will be forced to wait through six months of unemployment before they get access to unemployment benefits.
And during that time they will still have to jump through the hoops of proving they are looking for work if they want to register with Centrelink.
Then, after six months where they will get welfare payments, in exchange for an enlarged 25 hours a week work for the dole, they will be cut off again if still unemployed after one year.
This will push unemployed young people even further into poverty.
Those under 25 effectively face a cut of almost $100 a fortnight as they are forced onto the lower Youth Allowance payment.
The government’s aim is to force people into the workforce, taking whatever low paid and degrading work is available. Abbott first raised the idea in 2010, as an idea to force people to move across the country to find work in mining areas.
But the reality is that there is often no work available. Youth unemployment, among those aged 15 to 24 looking for work, is double the national average at 12.5 per cent. And the government’s own budget papers are predicting that unemployment will rise.
Even the Business Council of Australia described the changes as too tough. As young jobseeker Eleanor put it, “If I can’t get Centrelink, if I can’t get Newstart, I won’t be able to pay my medical bills; I won’t be able to pay my rent, and I won’t be able to afford to eat.”
Disability pensioners are being punished too, again with the aim of forcing them into work. Those on the payment aged under 35 who have been assessed as eligible between 2008 and 2011 will face a new assessment, in an effort to force them off the payment.
They will also have to take part in work for the dole and job search programs for the first time.
Abbott wants to completely destroy the idea of the right to welfare for the unemployed and disabled. We have to stop him.
By James Supple