Richard Pascoe, Labor's candidate for Hinkler.
Richard Pascoe, Labor's candidate for Hinkler. Mike Knott BUN

Pascoe backs Labor's radical plan to overhaul welfare

A COMPLETE overhaul of the welfare system has been proposed by the Australian Labor Party, and Hinkler candidate Richard Pascoe has backed the decision wholeheartedly.

In the 2018 June quarter, the unemployment rate in the Bundaberg Regional Council area was 9.6 per cent, up almost 1 per cent year on year.

Mr Pascoe said the Jobactive system needed to provide value for money and suggested a more tailored approach.

"We do have a large unemployment rate here in the Bundaberg and Wide Bay area, and if we keep doing things the same way we're just going to keep getting the same result," he said.

"We've got to start looking at things differently, and start trying to ensure that these job programs are meeting the needs of the unemployed to get back into work rather than this 'tick box' approach.

"We've got to take a positive approach to this to try and get these unemployed back into work."

Mr Pascoe said the current unemployment system, which had cost the Australian public more than $6 billion over four years, was failing job seekers.

"Almost 5000 people in the system have had seven or more job placements in the past three years," he said.

"Many of those placements resulted in some form of publicly funded outcome payment to the Jobactive provider even though the same person just keeps coming back again and again.

"The churn in the system shows the government's current version isn't working for unemployed people, or for businesses."

Mr Pascoe said employers and job search platforms were becoming flooded with unrelated applications.

"Instead of ticking boxes, Jobactive providers should be getting to the bottom of what's stopping their unemployed clients getting work, building relationships with employers, and getting a better understanding of the local labour market," he said.

"The government's own recently commissioned review showed that 18 per cent of employers were using the job services system in 2007, but by 2018 that proportion had dropped to only 4 per cent.

"Labor believes that people who are looking for work need to be treated with respect, to be supported to develop the skills and experience they need for jobs in their local area, and need to be helped to find secure, decent jobs."

On Monday, former prime minister Tony Abbott tweeted: "People on unemployment benefits are supposed to be looking for work. Applying for one job a day is hardly unreasonable.

"These proposed changes show Labor is now the welfare class party not the working class one."

Key points

ALP's planned jobseeker reforms pledge to:

  • Remove requirement for unemployed to apply for 20 jobs a month
  • Jobseeker obligations to change from person to person
  • Redesign work for the dole
  • Employment service providers to report to Centrelink just four times a year