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The Four Week Dole Wait For Under 25s Is Dead

"If you are being starved, and essentially starved out of a foxhole to do this, you have no capacity to find a job."

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The government's controversial plans to make people under 25 wait four weeks before they are eligible to receive dole payments will be defeated in the Senate, after the Nick Xenophon Team confirmed it will vote against the measure.

In September the government introduced legislation that would force people under the age of 25 to wait one month before they can access any form of financial welfare, in the hope jobseekers would find a job and not need Newstart.

Despite reducing the wait time from the Abbott-era proposal of six months to four weeks, the bill is currently stalled in the Senate.

The welfare savings bill also cuts off access to the pension for older Australians who spend more than six weeks overseas and scraps an education payment for some pensioners.

With Labor and the Greens opposed, the government need nine of the 11 crossbenchers to vote through their $173 million savings measure.

But on Wednesday, the Nick Xenophon Team came out against the move, meaning that as things stand, the bill won't pass the Senate.

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NXT confirmed to BuzzFeed News on Wednesday it will oppose the "fundamentally unfair" dole wait.

Rebekha Sharkie, the NXT member for Mayo, said she didn't feel the savings should be made on the back of the most disadvantaged Australians.

"We are all in favour of young people being activated and getting into the workforce – the challenge is if you are being starved, and essentially starved out of a foxhole to do this, you have no capacity to find a job," she told ABC radio.

Labor and the Greens have also indicated they will vote against the welfare savings bill, meaning the government is one vote short of passing the bill through the Senate.

The youth unemployment rate remains double the national average at 12.8%, with 272,400 young Australians out of work.

"The Turnbull government is failing on youth employment," Labor frontbencher Brendan O'Connor said. "It’s simply not fair to punish young jobseekers by making them wait one month without any income support.

Speaking on behalf of One Nation, Pauline Hanson said she thinks it's "very wise" to have a waiting period, but doesn't think four weeks is long enough.

She thinks a longer wait would stop young people "rorting" the system and creating lifetime dependency.

"Kids who leave school, or young adults, they can leave school at 15 years of age and I think if they see this golden egg there and [think], We can receive this money, I don't think it's an incentive for kids to get out and go to work."

David Leyonhjelm confirmed to BuzzFeed News he's also going to support the legislation, despite previously voting against the six-month wait.

Jacqui Lambie told BuzzFeed News she's undecided, but leaning against the current plan, because the government "failed to brief [her]" on the exact details of what they're proposing.

Lambie has previously described the six-month wait proposal as "stupid" and a "bucket of shit", saying it could result in young people taking their own lives.

Derryn Hinch was waiting to see what NXT decided before declaring how he would vote, but has previously said that "welfare is not a right" and should be for "the needy not the greedy".

Despite not having the number, social services minister Christian Porter isn't admitting defeat.

He told BuzzFeed News he'll "continue to work with the crossbench on these important measures".

Porter said making young people wait four weeks may be "challenging", but in the long run it will be a "huge win".

But officials from the Department of Social Services admitted to a Senate committee that there had been no modelling that suggests enforcing a waiting time results in young people getting a job.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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