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When job seekers outnumber jobs 5 to 1, punitive policy is harmful

The prime object of welfare reform should be to increase the well-being of people rather to reduce public expenditure. Good policy should be able to achieve both goals over the longer term. Too many current…

While social services minister Kevin Andrews focuses on welfare spending data, there is precious little evidence for the efficacy of his policy approach. AAP/Alan Porritt

The prime object of welfare reform should be to increase the well-being of people rather to reduce public expenditure. Good policy should be able to achieve both goals over the longer term. Too many current proposals, however, are likely to cause damage that increases costs and affects social cohesion.

Proposed policies in the budget and McClure report that focus on cutting income support or tightly controlling recipients' spending are highly unlikely to achieve either of the above goals. Instead, they will create a subgroup of people with no income and/or suffering further stigma because they are denied control over basic decisions.

The Australian’s post-budget editorial echoes the official view on welfare, but this approach disregards the factual evidence of whether this is likely to produce effective policy:

As Mr Hockey has argued, welfare is meant to provide a safety net, not become a cargo net. Australians know that our most vulnerable will be looked after; governments should help the poor and disadvantaged, but those who can work or provide for themselves should not be discouraged to do so.

The proposals are a further move away from the postwar consensus on the need for a welfare state. That derived from the political damage done by high unemployment and inequalities in the lead-up to the Second World War. In a time when inequality is again alarming even the International Monetary Fund (IMF), we need to examine whether the risks of introducing both savage cuts and spending controls exceed the possible benefits.

A false assumption of blame

The welfare policy shift seems to be based on a more individualised view of unemployment rather than a social or structural analysis. The faults are seen as being on the supply side of labour, not with the lower demand for labour generally. Unemployment is assumed to be the result of problematic job seekers who fail to get a job and/or live disordered lives.

Policy makers should be aware that there are, at least, five unemployed job seekers for every official job vacancy. The official Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) count excludes job changers or non-active seekers willing to take one, so the ratio of job competitors to jobs could be twice as high. This means the chances of success are very limited, particularly for those who are not well qualified, lack recent experience or encounter employer prejudices.

Australia’s 146,000 job vacancies amount to barely a fifth of the total of 717,000 people recorded by the ABS as unemployed. Australian Bureau of Statistics, May 2014 Job Vacancies, Australia (cat. no. 6354.0) , CC BY

Heavying those who are unlikely to succeed in such circumstances is pointless and punitive. Yet proposed “reforms” clearly assume that younger people need their welfare income cut because they are not properly trying to find paid work.

The clear example is the budget proposal of a six-month wait for unemployment benefits for those under 30. Less known is a proposal before the Senate to cut payments for those who miss appointments with job agencies or are seen as not pursuing a job deemed suitable by Centrelink. These often futile processes are difficult to negotiate and often totally unproductive.

The explanatory memorandum to that legislation shows the lawmakers' view on rights. It states:

Article 6 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) recognises the right to work. This includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work which the person freely chooses or accepts and is considered an inherent part of human dignity.

That sounds good but further down the tone changes as the right to work becomes an obligation:

The imposition of an eight-week non-payment for refusing an offer of suitable work does not unreasonably restrict the right to freely choose or accept work …

People long out of work may have many reasons for failure to comply but the possibility of these being considered is now limited and extra employment is not the outcome.

Policy bereft of supporting evidence

Another aspect of this punitive approach is income management (IM). Despite the lack of any evidence of its benefits, as well as high administrative costs, ideological beliefs of recipient incompetence are pushing expansion.

While the above changes cut spending costs, in this case an expensive program is being expanded. The budget allocated A$100 million to extend income management for the next 12 months with suggestions of further expansion.

Administration costs amount to over $3500 per person for the 28,000 current recipients. The costs come from policing the spending of more than 50% of their income support. This expensive option relies on assumptions about the incompetence of the recipients.

The reasoning is described in the McClure report:

Consideration should be given to incorporating income management as part of a package of support services available to job seekers who need to stabilise their circumstances and develop a pathway to work or study.

Little clear evidence exists to justify this program. A parliamentary briefing note says:

Income management has been a controversial welfare reform. While conditions have always been applied to eligibility for welfare payments, restrictions on how payments may be spent are a new development, criticised by some as paternalist and stigmatising. Income management is also relatively expensive to administer, with an estimated cost up to 2014–15 in the range of $1 billion.

Seven years after its first roll-out, the evidence for income management is weak at best. Centrelink, CC BY

Other reports find little evidence of benefits. A government-funded evaluation of the seven-year-old Northern Territory versions of IM failed to show clear outcomes, as in many earlier reports.

At best, some participants said they have had good experiences. Many others reported seriously negative experiences. The report concluded:

There are few, if any, strong and consistent impacts of NIM; rather, there have been diverse outcomes. This is reflected in the wide and inconsistent range of views and experiences of income management.

On the basis of these and other similar reports, it is hard to justify an extended version, let alone its continuation.

Focus on structures not the individual

The evidence is that long-term non-employment is more about social and physical barriers than the character of the job seeker, so the justification for punitive approaches becomes less convincing. The potential damage to those on the receiving end of extra cuts and controls may well create greater costs in the longer term.

If we had a welfare program based on assumptions that society has failed most of those who need income support, it would look very different. Stigmatising the many recipients because a few may not be enthusiastic seekers of non-existent jobs does not justify wholesale cuts.

Similarly, infantilising income recipients because a few need or want help with financial issues is wrong. They could be offered cheaper voluntary assistance through Centrepay, without losing the right to control their spending.

Policy proposals need to be tested against solid criteria. There is no evidence that reducing and controlling spending capacity are effective remedies for the unemployed.

Blaming the victims may be politically useful but obscures the real issues. These include a shortage of jobs and barriers to work created by employer prejudices. The risks include damaging the vulnerable by encouraging hostile public responses to their needs and reinforcing their lack of self-worth.

Join the conversation

68 Comments sorted by

    1. Lynne Newington

      Researcher

      In reply to Suzy Gneist

      Experience has shown us those busy policing other peoples incomes themselves haven't always been squeaky clean, as in using taxpayers money to promote Battleslines [Glen Milne ABC] and no charges laid.

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    2. Ellie Lawson

      Student

      In reply to Ellie Lawson

      I should qualify - working 'middle class' families. Because certainly there are too many working families sitting far too close to the poverty line, and in desperate need of help. Whether that help comes in the form of FTB or something else is an altogether different discussion.

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    3. Christopher Bertoli

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Ellie Lawson

      "I'm almost tempted to think we have a collective mentality of contempt for the vulnerable and destitute. We fear it, we stigmatise it, we pathologise it, and we punish it."

      If I may, that's because we do.

      A quick history recap, the Roman Catholic Church widely published the idea that wealth is bad for people therefore the solution was to give it to the Church. Post Protestant Reformation, some Protestants decided that wealth was rather a sign of God's blessing; that God loved that person. And…

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    1. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to peter mackenzie

      Yes, you can bet that Liberal candidates across the country will startr running hard on repressive law and order platforms once crime rates rise in the week of their earlier repressive measures on the unemployed. Soon there will be mandatory sentencing of unemployed people to jail instead of helping them to find a job.

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    2. peter mackenzie

      Transport Researcher

      In reply to Greg Young

      Yeh, thanks Greg- I am sure you are correct. It's what happens when there's a lack of insight, foresight and hindsight.

      Of course once numerous people with disabilities are "independently" re-assessed as being slackers aka "leaners", who should be in work - the situation will only worsen.

      And still, the inner circle at least will stand on their superior, high ground and name and blame the peasants.

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    3. Jeremy Culberg

      Electrical Asset Manager at Power Generation

      In reply to Greg Young

      Greg, the crazy part about that is that unemployment benefit is (single person, no rent assistance) around $13600 per year. With rent assistance and on costs (as in DOHS staff), maybe $40k. Minimum cost of jail time - $70,000 per year, and typical costs of >$100,000 per year.

      It is cheaper to have them on benefits, and available for work.

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    4. Peter Farrell

      teaching-principal at at a small rural school

      In reply to Greg Young

      I chuckled when I read this, Greg - but then I sadly thought, that what you say is not that big a stretch for our government. They do like to punish the 'unworthy', don't they?

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    5. Susan Nolan

      retired

      In reply to Greg Young

      Of course the expense for running the jails has to be picked up by State governments, not the Commonwealth government. This current federal government would probably congratulate themselves on achieving the cost shifting from federal to state.

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    6. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Peter Farrell

      Wasn’t meant as a joke Peter; I genuinely believe that would be the typical Liberal Premier’s response to any uptick in crime caused by their Federal counterpart’s withdrawal of a safety net.

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    7. Lynne Newington

      Researcher

      In reply to Peter Farrell

      Suffering is good for the soul and reminds of from whence we came, the trouble is not all have Abbotts mentality.
      Where I came from all are equal, and sometimes it's only an opportumity that gives the heave ho and when there is a five to one racio......
      How many politicians children are on the list......

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    8. Pook Richard Allpike

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jeremy Culberg

      You forget that the $100K will be going to ex politicians, after the Libs privatise the gaols and sell them to each other just before quitting politics....

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    1. Lyndal Breen

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Yes, desperate people will take on jobs that are not properly paid, or insured. There are plenty of people who pay their employees a lower rate off the books because the employee can then be topped up by Centrelink. Not to mention those that pay a low wage for a week to an employee on 'probation' - then dismiss them. The opportunities for unscrupulous business people will be taken up when there is a large pool of unemployed people who are being co-erced to take any job they are offered under the job search rules.
      Brace yourself also for the increase in intersection windscreen washers, distributors of catalogues, straight forward beggers, buskers, and people trying to sell stuff on party plans...as well as more prostitution, drug dealing and theft.

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    2. Graham Bell

      Scrap-heaped War Veteran

      In reply to Lyndal Breen

      Lyndal: I love your happy optimism - windscreen washers, beggars, prostitutes, drug-dealers? Nah. Although some will succumb and take on degrading low-paid activity in the faint hope of surviving and some will be driven to suicide - the rest will be a lot more proactive than that: they will take to banditry and brigandage like ducks to water; all of the influences in their upbringing point in that direction. There is a major generational shift that the government and the news media have…

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    1. Stephen McDonough

      Business Process Analyst

      In reply to Bron Larner

      That's one of the major points that doesn't get discussed enough. When we have so many unemployed all going for the same jobs, where's the entrepreneurial spirit? Why don't we have more self employed people who are forging their own way instead of trying to beat out the sometimes hundred or more applicants for a single position?

      I believe you have touched on one of the major reasons - the amount of regulation that drowns the seeds of these startups before they can take root makes starting your own business a daunting prospect. When the welfare provided essentially drains all savings and keeps you on a very subsistence living arrangement it's even harder.

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    2. Paul Wittwer

      Orchardist

      In reply to Stephen McDonough

      Stephen wonderswhy the unemployed do not forge their own way as entrepreneurs.
      This suggests they find something to sell in a society which is drowning in consumer products of all manner of utility from useful to useless to downright dangerous.
      I think 600,000 non-existent jobs would be easier than find than even 1% of that number of saleable new products or services.

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    3. Stephen McDonough

      Business Process Analyst

      In reply to Paul Wittwer

      I'm not sure what you're getting at Paul - you seem to be suggesting that having hundreds of thousands of working age people unemployed and idle should be considered a natural state for society to be in?

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    4. Paul Wittwer

      Orchardist

      In reply to Stephen McDonough

      Stephen, I am saying that there are even less opportunities for finding new products or services to sell than there are opportunities to sell one's labour.
      Free trade fundamentalism is allowing jobs to go offshore where people are exploited and the environment is degraded.
      This creates unfair competition for Australian jobs and in an effort to keep wages low governments of both major parties deliberately keep a large pool of unemployed.
      Neo-liberals would like us to believe it should be considered as the natural state for society to be in but I certainly don't.

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    5. Stephen McDonough

      Business Process Analyst

      In reply to Paul Wittwer

      Well, I definitely agree that we can't compete with countries which are producing products using labour costs and conditions that would be illegal in this country, and I don't believe racing to the bottom is a proper response. Free trade definitely helps large multinational corporations to cut costs in ways that local businesses could not do, and demonising tariffs and other measures to offset those imbalances seems to be the going strategy.

      But it's not the full story, because not all products…

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  1. R. Ambrose Raven

    none

    Well, let us compare and contrast the similar costs and negatives regarding a more topical issue, where blaming the victims is politically immensely useful but certainly obscures the real issues. In my example these include barriers to work created by ideological prejudices. The risks include damaging the vulnerable by encouraging hostile public responses to their needs and reinforcing their lack of self-worth.

    Vocational education and training is obviously beneficial to refugees (recognising that…

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    1. Arnd Liebenberg

      self-employed carpenter and joiner; exploring the possibilities of post-capitalist society

      In reply to R. Ambrose Raven

      R. Ambrose Raven, I am warning you! Displays of good sense and reason such as yours will not be tolerated! Not in this country, and not in any other! Period! What subjects will you raise next? An observation perhaps that many other countries are afflicted with despicably high structural unemployment, including youth unemployment which, if not dealt with will threaten the very existence of the social structures that we all rely on?

      You will be reported to the relevant authorities forthwith!

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    2. R. Ambrose Raven

      none

      In reply to Arnd Liebenberg

      Ah, but I am posting under an assumed name from the Russian Embassy, which with Ecuador is the only safe place for a Western dissident these days.

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  2. Alice Kelly
    Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

    sole parent

    Social security is what it is, welfare, or benefits as a descriptive name, do not describe adequately why these payments are used in a progressive society.
    Both political parties should invest more time in stripping all payments to the wealthy in our society, because it is those untenable payments to the wealthy which to my mind cause an insecure society, not payments to those who need them.

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  3. James Hill

    Industrial Designer

    Thanks Eva, for highlighting this problem.
    In the case of older unemployed people, one suspects that after a lifetime of effort and the accumulation of experience they would be ideal candidates for some sort of effective assistance to become self-employed.
    All they are missing is some start up financial capital, the "social capital" ( one of Eva's favourite terms) is already there and ignored in favour of lining people up for jobs which do not exist.
    All too hard for our "superior economic management" government?

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    1. Paul Wittwer

      Orchardist

      In reply to R. Ambrose Raven

      Another excellent response R. Ambrose Raven. I especially like your succinct and poignant opening sentence.

      Things seem to have gone from bad to worse since the last of Eva's praiseworthy articles on this subject.
      I have often referred such articles to the uninformed but the idea that the unemployed are all a bunch of idlers or leaners is a prejudice very difficult to shift.

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    2. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Paul Wittwer

      The notion that the jobs are out there and that anyone who is keen to find one is partly true. If you have the skills the knowledge and the experience required and have the cash to relocate (in some cases) you will be able to compete and get a job.

      But only a minority can do that as there are just not ENOUGH jobs. Our economy does not generate enough jobs for all, and those who employers deem to old or are disabled have even less chance to get work.

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    3. R. Ambrose Raven

      none

      In reply to Paul Wittwer

      Victim-blaming is very calculated. Blaming the recipient is done:
      • to remove any pressure for action by defining away the problem;
      • to excuse inaction, or oppressive or unreasonable or unnecessary action;
      • to bully;
      • to allow the privileged currently taking to keep taking.
      It is almost never done for any good reason.

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  4. john tons

    retired redundant

    There is a fundamental contradiction in the government's approach. On the one hand the government advocates deregulation, small government and individual freedom to choose and on the other it expands the social welfare system by introducing more regulation which are designed to curb people's freedoms. An application of occam's razor is called for. Provide a basic allowance for all those out of work - whether due to disability, age or whatever. However, that allowance can be topped up based on evidence of active job seeking or activities designed to increase one's employability. Income management to be seen as a service that people choose to undertake. Finally insist on self reporting - with penalties for those who attempt to cheat the system. The 80:20 rule applies to the job market as well - to invest millions into setting up structures designed to catch out the few who rort the system is simply a waste of tax payer funds.

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    1. peter mackenzie

      Transport Researcher

      In reply to john tons

      John, it also requires very active and well-targeted support of various kinds to assist the many job-seekers who don't have the skills within themselves or their families necessary to find and retain work in a highly competitive market.

      Even moreso when as Eva reports - that the ratio of jobseekers to jobs if 5:1. The jobs aren't there - it ain't the 1960s or 70's.

      In that vein your suggestions about evidence of active job-seeking and increasing ones employability also hit the wall for many…

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  5. Lyndal Breen

    logged in via Facebook

    There is no attempt to manage education and training to predict or respond to the needs of our society, at least in terms of job availability. Recently I graduated as one of 40,000 excess teachers.

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    1. Anneliese Ford

      Senior Consultant

      In reply to Lyndal Breen

      I agree Lyndal. I know newly graduated doctors, pharmacists, engineers and teachers all struggling to find work in an environment where university places are completely unrelated to employment opportunities. Now these graduates will be paying even heftier fees for increasingly uncertain job and income prospects, it will necessarily have a negative impact on many individuals and society. I imagine the Federal Government's plan is that wages will be driven down and down, impoverishing Australians and enriching Big Business further, until Australia has fallen to the Vietnamese living standards that Joe Hockey has openly aspired to. Are we going to stand by and just let it happen is the question for everyone who reads The Conversation.

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    2. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Anneliese Ford

      I agree there may be a hidden agenda to drive down pay and conditions on basis that there will be a level where businesses will employ enough workers when the price of their labour is low enough.

      In some industries the cost of labour will be a factor in employing people but many other considerations will come into play besides labour costs.

      But it is probably behind the large- scale outsourcing of jobs to low paid (and low cost! countries ) that has been seen in recent years.

      This is an unwelcome…

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    3. Susan Nolan

      retired

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      " there may be a hidden agenda to drive down pay and conditions on basis that there will be a level where businesses will employ enough workers when the price of their labour is low enough."

      Trouble is, if they drive down pay and conditions low enough, then people won't be able to buy the goods and services which the businesses offer so the businesses will contract and employ even fewer workers.

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    4. Graham Bell

      Scrap-heaped War Veteran

      In reply to Anneliese Ford

      Anneliese: You said "Now these graduates will be paying even heftier fees for increasingly uncertain job and income prospects,"
      Only temporarily, Anneliese, only temporarily.
      The whole university sector will implode - in a similar way in which mainstream religions imploded - when the real opportunity-cost of attending university becomes widely known and young people then make arrangements more appropriate to their own real situations and prospects.

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  6. Veronica Sheen

    Research Associate, School of Social Sciences at Monash University

    Very insightful article, thank you. It gives the background to the sort of experiences awaiting many young people as they scramble to stay alive without any income support for extended periods - and at the same time, apply for 40 jobs per month.
    An article in the current edition of the Big Issue, entitled the Doledrums, by columnist Fiona Scott-Norman gives an arresting account of what this will mean in the lives of young people in terms of fruitless, time wasting and exhausting job searches and…

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    1. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Veronica Sheen

      I agree young people will be under a lot of pressure to complete for the limited number of jobs available and will probably have to consider jobs that are less desirable.

      And yes this will likely out pressure on wages and conditions. Good for business and their owners/shareholders but dispiriting and bad for social cohesion for everyone else's.

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  7. Meg Thornton

    Dilletante

    I'm sorry? There are plans in place for Centrelink to decide whether or not I'm looking for the right type of work *as well as* my Job Network provider? Do the words "duplication of effort" ring any bells here? I mean, I have no objection to letting the nice people from Centrelink and the nice people from the Job Network play phone tag with each other (which is precisely what will happen in at least 10% of cases - can we say "inefficiency" kiddies? I thought we could...) but I really don't see…

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  8. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    There are a lot of complexities in all areas of government Eva, you certainly having revealed some with the welfare/employment circle and the immediate consequences for some recipients as against what longer term goals are.
    " The prime object of welfare reform should be to increase the well-being of people rather to reduce public expenditure. Good policy should be able to achieve both goals over the longer term. "
    It is always going to be so easy to dwell on immediate effects and lose sight of the…

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    1. peter mackenzie

      Transport Researcher

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg, somewhere in there you seem to be saying that governments are doing this to reduce costs for them longer-term good of the nation.

      As I have mentioned before, if that were true they would be not wasting money in other areas. But they are, and in infrastructure spending the waste will equal tens of billions of $ over the next 5-10 years. That's not a feeling ir belief I have but from proper research. Not that Labor didn't do similar pork-barelling/ poor project choice/short-term thinking-planning…

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    2. Henriette Vanechop
      Henriette Vanechop is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Greg North

      The worker is both "maker" and consumer=customer.

      How could we have "full" employment when practically all our needs and wants are imported ?

      Excess profit results in accumulation of unwanted goods. Using robots multiplies the production, but robots will not purchase what they have produced, will they ? oh, yes, making robots creates employment for a few frankensteins, but does it improve mankind ?

      If importing goods resulted in a better life for workers in "poor" countries, it…

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    3. Lyndal Breen

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg North

      I'm looking forward to having someone from Centrelink manage my income so I can pay $300+ per week rent on $250 per week Newstart (including Rent Assistance). I'm watching my life savings dwindle fast. No drinking, gambling or smoking here, but the eating is pretty poor.

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  9. Bronwyn OBrien

    Admin Assistant

    Thank you for this article. I have been saying for ages that our biggest problem is lack of job availability not lack of willing job seekers. In my area, the NSW Mid North Coast, it is not unusual for one job vacancy to attract 200 applicants.
    What worries me too is that small business are really going to suffer if pensioners and the unemployed have little or no money to spend. This will lead to less jobs, more business closures and even more unemployed.
    Yes you get your 'bludgers', your drug addicts…

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    1. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Bronwyn OBrien

      It's the same here in Gippsland Victoria Bronwyn! The jobs just are not there in sufficient numbers to employ all those able to be employed (other than the categories of people you refer to and which you rightly say need special effort).

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  10. Brigitte Cox

    Retired Food Technologist

    Well written article Eva. I doubt if Tony Abbott or Joe Hockey have ever been unemployed and know how depressing it is to go for interview after interview without being given a job.
    I pay my taxes so these people can be helped not so that the government can squeeze to less fortunate in our community. Bring back the welfare state I say - I'm lucky to have had a good career and I'm happy to pay for it.

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  11. Brandon Young

    Retired

    The idea that there should be “encouragement” to look for work, in the form of induced poverty and distress, is subhuman. There is a word for societies where not all social contracts are voluntary, and that word is Fascist.

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  12. Marcus L'Estrange
    Marcus L'Estrange is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Teacher

    No, the ratio of unemployed is one vacancy for every twenty unemployed, not 1/5. No one should take any notice or comment on the monthly unemployment figures.

    There is much discussion by many regarding unemployment in general, but particularly youth unemployment, but this talk and suggested solutions can go on forever and it would still be largely a waste of time because the talk is all based on the monthly ABS "Labour Force" employment / unemployment figures which is a bit like analysing a storm…

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    1. Eva Cox

      Professorial Fellow Jumbunna IHL at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Marcus L'Estrange

      Marcus, if you read my other contributions in this area I have written extensively on sole parents, the unrealistic assessment of unemployed job seekers and the problems with low Newstart rates, Attacking me for using the recent ABS figures with caveats is unfair as we are both saying the same thing, that job seekers substantially outnumber the available jobs.

      I chose, in this case, deliberately to go with 'official' ABS data because the gap was were bizarre enough to show the stupidity of official Govt assumptions about the problems being with the unemployed, without risking the distraction of questioning whether it was 10 -1 or 20 -1. So please trash those who argue the problem is supply not demand and recognise we are on the same side!!!

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    2. Marcus L'Estrange
      Marcus L'Estrange is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Teacher

      In reply to Eva Cox

      Of course we are largely on the same side but I still wouldn't even mention the ABS "Labour Force" figures as it gives them some credibility. You didn't refer to your other contributions so people (not me) may not be aware of them.

      Even a 'hard right' person such as Gary Morgan believes they (ABS Labour Force" figures) should be totally abolished so please don't mention them at all.

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  13. R. Ambrose Raven

    none

    We should introduce a 24-hour week with 38-hour pay.

    A 24-hour week with 38-hour pay would also demonstrate just how much of our National Income is extracted by the top 0.1%. By offloading the extra burdens from the State onto individuals through a longer rather than shorter working life, more of the State’s revenue can be diverted to feed the greed of the obscenely rich. That is Hockey’s real agenda’ the 0.1% - not us - is the clique that he serves, as his 2014 Budget so impressively demonstrates…

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    1. Paul Wittwer

      Orchardist

      In reply to R. Ambrose Raven

      Hear hear as long as it was introduced over a sufficient period for humane adaptation, overtime was financially discouraged and there was plenty of governmental support for training and re-location.

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  14. Susan Nolan

    retired

    Given the beneficiaries of the other budget measures proposed by this government, it would seem that the income management scheme would be intended to benefit the corporations/businesses at which the unemployed's "debit" card would work - rather than the unemployed themselves.

    Of course, the shops chosen by the government to be part of their income management scheme would NOT be family businesses, the corner shop, the local green grocer, local butcher, farmers' markets, etc. No. They'd be the BIG chains.

    Just another way for this government to put money into the pockets of their chosen corporations.

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  15. Nicole Else

    logged in via email @cryogenic.net

    Why is there a need to criticize people who don't want to work? As there is not enough work for everyone it is good that some people don't look for work and therefore the people who do want a job have slightly better chances of finding one. If you force someone to take a job, another person will miss out and will need to get an allowance, so the state doesn't save any money. Some people can live cheaply with relatives or friends and don't need much money. Some people have to pay a high rent and want a job. Let those people who do make an effort to find a job be successful in their attempts. I would even go as far as saying that it would be selfish to take a job when you don't really need it when other people really need that job.

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    1. Henriette Vanechop
      Henriette Vanechop is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Nicole Else

      Well observed. The financial needs of diverse people are not equal; nor are the needs of a same person at different stages of their life.
      - Some people are happier camping around and smelling the roses, others want to raise a family, others still are miserable unless they accumulate certain standards of comfort.

      What happened to job sharing ? although it could NOT apply for every type of positions, could it not improve life for a substantial number of people ?

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  16. Marcus L'Estrange
    Marcus L'Estrange is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Teacher

    The fifteen problems caused by the false and misleading ABS monthly “Labour Force” or headline figures. marcuslestrange@yahoo.com.au

    Dodgy unemployment figures lead to a dodgy analysis which then leads to dodgy policies, e.g.

    (1) Failure to increase the value of Newstart payments – ALP / Liberals.

    (2) The off-loading of sole parents from the pension, onto the lower paying Newstart allowance, when their child turns eight. ALP / Liberals

    (3) The introduction of vicious Newstart rules in 2014…

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  17. Bob from Canberra

    in his anecdotage

    to Alice Kelly
    >Social security is what it is,<

    Please note that under John Howard, the department was renamed to Social Services. Nothing secure here anymore.
    A group of older staff with a lot of experience and corporate knowledge walked out in disgust.

    Please note that under John Howard, the department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs was renamed to Immigration and Citizenship. Nothing multicultural anymore.
    A group of older staff with a lot of experience and corporate knowledge at immigration walked out in disgust.
    Indigenous Affairs moved around and is now within the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet. And don’t get me started on the PM’s idea of terra nullus. Note that the staff from the old Indigenous Affairs area are being paid less for the same work as staff who happened to already be in PM&C.

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  18. Andrew Brown

    M. Professional Accounting, B. Arts (Public Policy & Sociology)

    Eva, is there any data regarding how many jobs are filled by unemployed vis-a-vis those seeking an alternative position?

    Looking at the number of jobs advertised where employers are seeking candidates with expereince, I think it would help fill the picture a little more regarding how many people actually exit unemployment securing work.

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    1. Eva Cox

      Professorial Fellow Jumbunna IHL at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Andrew Brown

      The latest June Labourforce data gives you a monthly flow by category, so presumably more is available. 339,600 were unemployed in both months,86,500 became employed and 108,000 became unemployed who had been employed, and 127,000 who had not been in the labour force became unemployed. A further 280,000 NILF category moved into a job! http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/meisubs.nsf/0/4766D879F89E6574CA257D100013F55B/$File/62020_jun%202014.pdf

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    2. Andrew Brown

      M. Professional Accounting, B. Arts (Public Policy & Sociology)

      In reply to Eva Cox

      Hi Eva

      Thanks for that though I'm not sure how it addresses my question.

      Looking at the number of jobs available, is there any data showing how many are filled by unemployed as against those moving from one position to another and I should have probably added and or gaining additional work.

      That contrast between the numbers of jobs available, which you quoted as being 1 for every 5 unemployed, I suspect grows even further when one factors in people currently employed but still actively seeking alternative and or additional employment if that makes sense.

      Thanks

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  19. Doug Hutcheson

    Poet

    "they will create a subgroup of people with no income and/or suffering further stigma", none of which is of the slightest interest to the Billy Tea Party we currently have in power. We, the dependent, are nothing but a pack of bludgers and 'leaners', according to Toxic Tony & Co. I would love to go back to work if my drug-resistant bipolar would go away and if there was a job available.
    Oh, silly me, I forgot Tony's promise that we would all be able to move from "good jobs to better jobs", so my dependence upon financial support and a carer must be classed as a "good job" and I can look forward to a "better job" under his generous and munificent government. If so, I really feel sorry for people not in such a "good job".

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  20. Jude Silber

    Disability pension

    What to expect: Cries fo abolishing the minimum wage. Trickle down economy remember.

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