Subject/s: changes to jobseeker payment; new hotline;
BEN FORDHAM: JobSeeker is going up by $3 a day. From April 1, people on the dole will receive $43 a day, up from $40 a day. And they’ll have to work harder for it, applying for 20 jobs a month, which is up from eight. And there’s a new hotline to dob in a dole bludger. Michaelia Cash is the Minister for Employment. She’s on the line. Minister, good morning to you.
MICHAELIA CASH: Good morning, Ben, and good morning to your listeners.
BEN FORDHAM: How is the dob in a dole bludger hotline going to work?
MICHAELIA CASH: Look, this is all about ensuring that those people who are able to accept a suitable job, are able to do just that. We receive so many reports, Ben, from employers of people turning up to interviews, they can do the job, there’s no reason they can’t do the job. But they are just there to tick a box. So this is just to enable those employers to report to the department, so that we can actively monitor those people who could’ve said yes but choose not to. My department will, of course, investigate all of this. They’ll speak to the job seeker; they will make sure that everything was okay with them. But ultimately, we believe, as a government, if you are able to accept a job, you should do that.
BEN FORDHAM: I’m guessing you would want to see a trend emerging before you’d take action against anyone.
MICHAELIA CASH: Oh look, at the end of the day, as I said, the employer reporting line is available to employers; an investigation will occur into all reports, absolutely, before any further action is taken. But if it is established that the person them self is on income support, subject to mutual obligation, and could’ve done the job but just says no, then you are right, action will be taken.
BEN FORDHAM: Is it fair that JobSeeker is $43 a day in a place like Sydney or Perth, where rents are higher, compared to somewhere like Adelaide or Hobart where rents are much lower?
MICHAELIA CASH: Well, from my perspective, as you know, the best form of welfare is a job. And that’s why the Government really does focus on, and this is why you have mutual obligations doing everything that we can to ensure that you are in the best possible position to actually get into work. When you look at the $43.90 a day, it is important to remember that 99 per cent of people on the working age payment, they do receive additional supplements. In fact, if you look at it, I think there’s about 20 supplementary payments that are targeted to people based on their individual circumstances. It is also a safety net payment; it’s not a wage replacement and we need to remember that. My focus, as the Employment Minister, is to ensure that you had every opportunity to upskill, to reskill, to participate in work experience. My focus is getting you off welfare and into a job.
BEN FORDHAM: When will the dob in a dole bludger hotline be up and running and what’s the phone number?
MICHAELIA CASH: We don’t have the phone number yet, but the employer reporting line will operate from the beginning of April 2021.
BEN FORDHAM: Are you going to miss Craig Kelly in the party room?
MICHAELIA CASH: Oh look, that’s a decision for Craig. I’m obviously disappointed. But, you know, that is a decision for Craig. But as the Prime Minister said, he’s got one focus and one focus only, and that is the Australian people and doing what is in the best interest, as I think we’ve shown as a government in particular throughout 2020 when it was incredibly challenging. The Prime Minister’s only focus is on the best interests of Australian people.
BEN FORDHAM: We appreciate your time, Michaelia Cash.
MICHAELIA CASH: Good on you. Thanks, Ben. See you.
BEN FORDHAM: Minister for Skills and Employment, Michaelia Cash joining us from Canberra.