Young People Who Don't Turn Up To Dole Training Will Have Their Payments Cut

    "Because some people simply do not want to step up to the plate."

    Young people who fail to attend Centrelink job search appointments or training programs could be cut off from their dole payments under plans being considered by the Turnbull government.

    Human services minister Alan Tudge confirmed to BuzzFeed News he wants to give Centrelink and frontline unemployment service providers the power to deny Newstart payments to young people if they don't turn up for job search appointments or back-to-work training programs.

    Under the government's $96 million Try, Test and Learn fund, announced last week, state and territory and non-government agencies can apply for funding to provide services to young unemployed people to get them into work.

    These programs are similar to previous work for the dole initiatives, and unlike the government's proposed PaTH internships, won't be providing young people with any extra money.

    “Everything we are trying to do is to get people into the workforce, where they have got the capability to do so," Tudge told BuzzFeed News.

    Tudge said he was inspired to introduce the welfare crackdown measure when he visited Productivity Bootcamp, a construction course for young unemployed people that aims to place them in work after eight weeks of onsite training, in Western Sydney last week.

    Owner Paul Breen told Tudge the program had a 90% success rate – but occasionally students don't turn up.

    The minister suggested the most effective way to get unemployed young people to show up was to enforce real world consequences such as cutting welfare payments.

    "Because some people simply do not want to step up to the plate," he said.

    "Many people have told me that there are too many loopholes allowing young people to avoid their work obligations and this is not in their interests, or the community’s."

    The minister said the government's approach is based on three steps: creating as many opportunities as possible for young people to find a job; assisting people to overcome barriers to get work; and compliance.

    Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

    Labor has labelled the proposal a conservative ideological agenda that would cut young people's legitimate access to benefits.

    Labor frontbencher Brendan O'Connor has accused the government of not doing enough to curb the youth unemployment rate, which remains double the national average at 12.8%, with 272,400 young Australians out of work.

    "The Turnbull government is obsessed with 'actively considering' ways to cut people’s payment rather than 'actively considering' ways to help people get a job," he said.

    Labor is also pushing back against the government's planned four week wait for under 25s to get access to Newstart, down from the six month wait first proposed by the Abbott government in 2014.

    "It’s simply not fair to punish young jobseekers by making them wait one month without any income support," O'Connor said.

    "That’s not a plan to create jobs for young Australians – that’s a plan to drive young jobseekers into poverty and hardship."

    Lukas Coch / AAP

    Social services minister Christian Porter last week said making young people wait four weeks before they are eligible to receive dole payments might be “challenging”, but in the long run it will be a “huge win”.

    The success of the legislation rests with the Senate crossbench.

    Labor and the Greens are opposed. The Nick Xenophon Team has yet to announce a position, but did vote against a wait when it was last before the Senate in September 2015.

    Jacqui Lambie told BuzzFeed News she's still considering her position because "the government to date has failed to brief her on their exact plans".

    One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has indicated they are likely to support the changes. This means the government has four of the nine crossbench votes it needs to pass the $173 million savings measure.

    Hanson said she thinks its "very wise" to have a waiting period, but doesn't think four weeks is long enough.

    "Personally myself, I don't think it's long enough, but I'd be open to hear what the people feel about it," Hanson told the ABC.

    "People are now abusing it, it’s being rorted, and I believe it needs to stop."

    "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."

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

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