Warning bells sound on ‘city centric’ Jobseeker rules
Cowper MP Pat Conaghan has raised concerns over changes to the Jobseeker system which he says have been designed for cities and don't take into account the experience of unemployed people in the regions.
Mr Conaghan has been a longtime advocate for a rise in the Jobseeker payment and said while he thought the recently confirmed $25-a-week increase "fell short" he understood there was less of an appetite for a bigger rise now the government was "trillions of dollars in debt".
Of more concern for the MP was the changes to the mutual obligations system which require those receiving Jobseeker payments to attend meetings and apply for certain number of jobs.
This week Centrelink returned to 'face-to-face' servicing, meaning for the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic jobseekers are required to attend appointments and meetings in person.
Mr Conaghan is fearful that unemployed people in regional and remote areas might be more at risk of having their payments cut off if they miss meetings because the costs of fulfilling their obligations may be higher.
While he agreed there should be some form of mutual obligation in place, he said there needed to be flexibility, as many people in regional areas could not just hop on a bus or walk to their nearest job centre where there are an "abundance of jobs" to apply for.
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"I believe the mutual obligations are city-centric and some may set people up to fail."
"I don't think (the mutual obligations) takes into account regional and rural communities, particularly indigenous communities.
"(Jobseekers) have to afford to travel and every little bit counts when you are on $305 a week."
From April 1, the Jobseeker payment will increase by $25 and coincides with the removal of the coronavirus supplement, currently $75 a week.
The number of jobs recipients will have to apply for will rise to 15 before rising again in July to 20.