Release type: Transcript


4BC Breakfast Interview with Neil Breen


Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business

Subject/s: changes to jobseeker payment; new hotline;

NEIL BREEN: Yes. Michaelia Cash, joins me now and I’m sorry to keep her waiting, but I had to go through that information with regards to the administering of the vaccine on the north side of Brisbane. She’s the Federal Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business and yesterday, unemployed Australians were given a $50 a fortnight rise to the Job Seeker payment, up to $615.70 today. And typically, in politics, Minister, when you give people money, lots of other people still run around and bag you for it? 

MICHAELIA CASH: Look, that’s exactly right and hi, Neil and hi to your listeners. Look, JobSeeker is a safety net payment as we know; it’s not a wage replacement. It’s also important to remember that 99 per cent of people on working age payments receive additional supplements. And there’s around 20 supplementary payments that are targeted to people, based on their individual circumstances. But, certainly, as the Minister for Employment, my role is to actually get people off that safety net payment and into work. Because as you know, the best thing you can do for anybody in life is get them a job and that’s what I’m focused on as the Minister for Employment. 

NEIL BREEN: One of the key things that were lost on a lot of people yesterday and I know the Queensland Council of Social Services and other mobs were saying it’s $3.47 a day and it’s a drop in the ocean. But it was the first significant rise to what was formerly known as the dole and is now called JobSeeker, since the early 90s and that’s a fact.

MICHAELIA CASH: Look, that’s exactly right. This is the single biggest year on year increase to the rate of unemployment benefits since 1986. But you’ve also got to remember, Neil, as you well know, it does come with a price tag. This will cost Australians over the forward estimates, $9 billion. The Government believes, we’ve considered a whole range of factors, in getting to the $50. We’ve got to provide support for unemployed Australians, but we also have to provide that incentive to look for work and as I said, it is important to remember that 99 per cent of the people on working age payments do receive additional supplements. 

NEIL BREEN: Yes, and the situation with JobSeeker and JobKeeper is I think a lot of people, Minister, believed that the party would go on forever. But it can’t go on forever because at some stage, all of us have to start the process of paying it back. Like, it’s always great to have a house warming party when you borrow $2 million from the bank you get a house with a pool. But at some stage in the future, the bank is going to go where’s the mortgage? 

MICHAELIA CASH: Look, and that’s exactly right. 2020 was a challenging year, Neil. Under any circumstances, yes. However, what we’re now seeing is the labour market is actually responding to the measures that the Government put in place. So, 93 per cent of the jobs lost during COVID, they have actually returned to the economy. If you look at the labour force figures for January, 59,000 full time jobs, they returned to the economy, 161,000 jobs were advertised in the last month. So, certainly, what we are seeing now is that economy coming back. I mean, it’s well and truly – Australia’s economic recovery is well and truly underway. And therefore, as a Government, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that we are putting in place all of the necessary measures to get people off welfare and into work. Because that’s where we want them to be. 

NEIL BREEN: Yes, so do we, here at 4BC Breakfast. Michaelia Cash, Federal Minister for Employment Skills, Small and Family Business.