Following yesterday’s announced $3.60 a day increase in the JobSeeker unemployment payment to a meagre $44 a day, the Morrison Government has proposed setting up a hotline for employers to dob in JobSeeker recipients who are offered a job but refuse to take it.
This hotline has been criticised by ACTU president Michelle O’Neil, who concerned that employers could exploit the hotline to coerce vulnerable people to accept jobs with low wages.
The Greens’ Rachel Siewert has also criticised the hotline, claiming it could be open to abuse.
Employer groups also lukewarm on the hotline, with Recruitment, Consulting & Staffing Association CEO Charles Cameron and Council of Small Business Organisations CEO Peter Strong believing most employers would be unlikely to use it.
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said her department would follow up on people dobbed in to the hotline to see if they had a valid reason for turning down work.
“You often hear, though, employers saying, ‘Joe applied for a job. He was qualified for the job … and they said no’,” she said. “In the event that they do not have a valid reason, they will be breached for that.”
Australia already requires the unemployed to jump through many hoops – from applying for jobs, doing ‘mutual obligation’, etc – which makes JobSeeker a miserable existence.
Thus, the thought of adding further measures that tightens those requirements seems overly heavy handed and cruel. It also reminds us of the Coalition’s Robodebt fiasco, which wrongly attempted to claw back welfare benefits the government said had been overpaid.