Employment minister says it’s ‘too late’ to abandon Coalition’s points-based jobseeker payment system | Unemployment

The employment minister, Tony Burke, says it is too late to scrap a controversial points-based mutual obligation system for jobseekers, insisting the concept is “right” but needs tweaking.

Advocates have been calling on the new Albanese government to scrap, or at least pause, the “points-based activation system” (Pbas), which requires jobseekers to earn 100 “points” through a job search or other activities, including study, training, hours of employment or work for the dole.

The new system, which starts on 1 July, replaces the heavily criticized JobActive program requiring jobseekers to lodge 20 job applications monthly.

Burke said that the Morrison government had finalized contracts for the $7bn tender before caretaker mode and that the Albanese government would proceed with the “more flexible” model.

“It’s too late not to have a points system at all,” he said.

“It’s about getting inside it and making it logical and ensuring that when all these contracts take effect in a couple of weeks, we’ve got a system that helps long-term unemployed people.”

Burke said that Labor had agreed that aspects of the old JobActive program needed to change. Still, he remained concerned about proposed automation in the new system, which rang “alarm bells” given the so-called Robodebt scandal.

payment system

He said the “initial concept” of a points-based system was “right”, but he wanted to ensure anomalies were ironed out and people weren’t unfairly penalized.

“To have a more flexible system, good idea,” he said.

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“Twenty applications a week being the only measure is the wrong way to go about things. So, being able to take into account if someone’s getting a forklift license, a driver’s license, or things like that are good things to take into account. So that concept’s fine. The automated messages, it’s a disastrous way to go if you do that the wrong way,” he said.

“What the government’s designed, some of it’s more punitive than actually getting the job done. We want to make sure, and I’ll change it over the next week, to ensure we can have a system designed to get people into work rather than some media stunt to punish people.”

Burke also said the government was “working through” whether it could lift the rate of the JobSeeker payment after the Fair Work Commission decided to raise the minimum wage by 5.2%.

Before the election, Labor ditched a previous commitment to review the JobSeeker rate if it formed government, which has been criticized as inadequate and remains below the poverty line.

“Those decisions go to the budget. And we said during the campaign that all those benefit payments get reassessed for what’s affordable on every budget. This time we don’t have to wait for a budget next year because there’ll be an October budget, and an assessment will be made of those with the full economic circumstances,” Burke said.

“I’m not a member of the Expenditure Review Committee – others are working through that issue.”

Bella E. McMahon
I am a freelance writer who started blogging in college. I am fascinated by human nature, politics, culture, technology, and pop culture. In addition to my writing, I enjoy exploring new places, trying out new things, and engaging in conversations with new people. Some of my favorite hobbies are reading, playing music, making crafts, writing, traveling, and spending time with my family.