Monday, 28 July 2014

Federal Assistant Employment Minister Luke Hartsuyker and Ben Fordham indulge in jobseeker bashing during 2GB interview

Snapshot taken from on 27 July 2014

In Job Seeker Compliance Data released for the March 2014 Quarter there were 858,104 jobseekers receiving unemployment benefits, of which 643,511 were active jobseekers who attended 2.215 million scheduled appointments with employment service providers.

From 1 January to 31 March 2014 Centrelink issued 121,216 Participation Reports (non-compliance), 20 per cent of which involved jobseekers whom the department considered had a reasonable excuse but who did not give prior notice of non-attendance and 15 per cent of which were the jobseeker’s first instance of a participation report.

A reasonable excuse can involve medical issues, caring responsibilities for a sick child or relative, homelessness, transport difficulties, recent bereavement, literacy or language difficulties, legal appointment, court appearance, attending a job interview, doing paid work/found a job, or other circumstances.

Of those jobseekers who failed to attend their usual appointment or did not comply with other requirements, a total of 215,284 had their benefit payment suspended under the new compliance arrangements introduced from 1 July 2011. Non-payment penalty periods generally are for a period of eight weeks.

Out of all those 858,104 registered jobseekers (including school leavers) only 137 refused a suitable job offered and only 183 did not turn up to commence a suitable job.

Yet 2GB radio’s Ben Fordham and the Assistant Minister for Employment in the Abbott Government, Luke Hartsuyker, indulged in some classic jobseeker bashing on Friday 25 July 2014.

With Hartsuyker stating that the reasonable excuse definition was being “toughened" and, not turning up for a scheduled appointment because it was “too hot or too cold or I couldn’t be bothered certainly doesn’t cut it”. For Hartsuyker to so misrepresent what is currently considered a reasonable excuse is extremely dishonest. 

For 2GB to call registered job seekers "dole bludgers" and Fordham to decide that all people who refuse jobs or do not turn up to interviews is because "they just can't be bothered" was dog whistling at its best.

To place job seeking in perspective, in seasonally adjusted terms in February 2014 there were 743,100 unemployed people across Australia of which 218,400 were in New South Wales.

That same month there were 143,600 job vacancies nationally and only 49,600 of these were in New South Wales according to the Australian Bureau of StatisticsLooking at jobs advertised online in the Northern River region it is likely that there were as few as 500-600 job vacancies in that February and most of these would not have been for permanent full-time employment.

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