Fired-up Scott Morrison slams unemployed Australians for refusing to take 54,000 regional jobs – and says they should have their benefits taken away if they don’t relocate
- 54,000 jobs are going begging in regional Australia including at farms and cafes
- Scott Morrison is frustrated that JobSeekers are refusing to take up these roles
- Has strengthened rules for receiving benefits to make sure they apply for them
- Mr Morrison also said another solution was to increase temporary migration
Scott Morrison has declared that unemployed Australians who refuse to take jobs should have their Centrelink benefits withdrawn.
The prime minister is frustrated that 54,000 jobs are going begging in regional Australia – including at pubs, cafes and farms – despite the government’s $6,000 relocation payment.
‘Unemployed Australians are simply and regrettably not filling these jobs,’ he told the AFR business summit in Sydney on Tuesday.
Frustrated: Scott Morrison has declared that unemployed Australians who refuse to take jobs should have their Centrelink benefits withdrawn
Farmers have reported being unable to employ people to pick fruit and vegetables in the regions
From April JobSeeker recipients will have to apply for 15 jobs a month, rising to 20 from July as the payment permanently increases by $50 a fortnight to $620.80.
‘This is a fair exchange,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘If there is a job available, and you are able to do that job, then it is reasonable for taxpayers to expect that it will be taken up, rather than continue to receive benefits.’
Farmers have been struggling to hire workers due to a shortage of backpackers who have been unable to enter the country during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The prime minister warned that produce going unpicked on farms meant that food prices will rise for every Australian and described the waste as a ‘tragedy.’
Another solution is to bring in temporary migrants on conditional visas to ‘fill the gap’ and boost the economy as a whole, thereby creating more jobs, he said.
‘We have tried in the past to first get Australians into these jobs, but having tried to do that with any number of incentives,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘It has been incredibly difficult and we have to call it as it is. When Australians won’t do the jobs, the jobs still need to be done.
‘I can’t have horticulturists ploughing their produce back into their fields because they can’t get the workers.
From April JobSeeker recipients will have to apply for 15 jobs a month, rising to 20 from July as the payment permanently increases by $50 a fortnight to $620.80
‘We must relook at the role that temporary visa holders play in meeting our economy’s workforce requirements, where Australians do not fill these jobs,’ he said.
Mr Morrison said he was open minded about reforming the immigration system and would look at conditional visas that could require workers to live in regional areas.
‘We have got a real open mind on this,’ he said.
‘Conditionality is one of the great advantages of the temporary visa program. You can’t put conditions on permanent visas.
‘Those conditions can help us direct where people can go, which can ease pressures in metropolitan areas but hopefully ease pressures in regional areas.’
What are the changes to the dole?
The changes include:
• permanently increasing the rate of working-age payments by $50 a fortnight from 1 April 2021, benefiting 1.95 million Australians;
• permanently increasing the income-free earnings to $150 per fortnight for JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance (other) from 1 April 2021;
• temporarily extending the waiver of the Ordinary Waiting Period for certain payments for a further three months to 30 June 2021;
• temporarily extending the expanded eligibility criteria for JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance (other) for those required to self-isolate or care for others as a result of COVID-19 to 30 June 2021.
There will also be changes to the Mutual Obligation Scheme:
• job seekers will be required to search for a minimum of 15 jobs a month from early April, increasing to 20 jobs per month from 1 July;
• an employer reporting line will be established to refer Jobseekers who are not genuine about their job search or decline the offer of a job;
• some job seekers will be required to participate in work for the dole after six months;
• job seekers can choose to participate in an approved intensive short course instead of participating in work for the dole;
• job seekers return to compulsory face-to-face services with Jobactive providers;
• increased auditing of job applications to ensure job seekers are making genuine applications.