Jobseeker Bill Passed
Monday, 3rd November 2014 at 10:02 am
The Labor Party has accused the Abbott Government of a “disgraceful display of arrogance” after a Bill that could see jobseekers penalised for missing appointments with employment providers was easily passed through the lower house.
Shadow Minister for Regional Development Julie Collins said the Opposition forced the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Job Seeker Compliance Framework) Bill into being referred to a Senate Committee after the Government did not allow Labor’s foreshadowed amendments to be debated in the House of Representatives.
“Assistant Minister Luke Hartsuyker shut down debate in the House of Representatives on a Bill that will remove basic rights of appeal for jobseekers who have their payments suspended for failing to attend appointments, force over 55-year-olds to meet new activity tests or risk losing payments, despite zero analysis of the impact of age discrimination in job market”, Collins said.
“These changes are yet another move to penalise Australians who can least afford it and they deserve to be properly debated.
“The Assistant Minister for Employment would rather avoid proper Parliamentary debate than stand up and defend his campaign against people doing it tough.”
But Assistant Minister for Employment Luke Hartsuyker blamed Labor of being asleep on the job and missing its opportunity to move amendments to the Bill.
“Labor has no-one to blame but itself for its failure to move its amendments to this Bill,” Hartsuyker said.
“The Shadow Minister for Employment Services had indicated her intention to introduce amendments to the Bill but when the time came, the Opposition was asleep on the job.
“They only had one person in the Chamber and were unable to call for a Division.
“Far from avoiding Parliamentary scrutiny, as the Shadow Minister alleges, there was sufficient time in the schedule to debate Labor’s proposed amendments.
“The Bill was voted on and passed … in the House of Representatives without Labor’s opposition.”
Recent media reports claim that 4.47 million compulsory agency meetings were missed by people relying on welfare payments in 2013-2014, with the top excuse being "jobseeker error".
The new Bill passed recently would mean welfare payments for these people would stop until the unemployed reschedule and attend their meetings.
It will also mean that recipients of relocation assistance who leave employment without a reasonable excuse within six months will incur a 26-week non-payment period before becoming eligible to receive unemployment benefits again.
“The Bill seeks to ensure that more job seekers attend their appointments with the employment providers so that they get the help they need to move from welfare to work,” Hartsuyker said.
“Last financial year, a staggering 4.5 million appointments were missed by job seekers. This is a missed opportunity for job seekers and a massive red tape burden for employment providers.
“I welcome the Opposition’s in-principle support for the key measures in the Bill which seek to reduce the number of missed appointments.
“Should Labor be able to get its act together then the Government is prepared to work constructively with the Opposition and the Senate to progress this legislation to ensure that more job seekers attend their appointments as expected.”