The federal government's move to force the unemployed into a
range of new community labour positions is akin to paying
workers below the minimum wage, a welfare group says.
Revealing details of the coalition's planned
work-for-the-dole expansion, Assistant Minister for
Employment Luke Hartsuyker said Newstart recipients will
complete tasks such as rubbish collection, park maintenance
and stretch to gardening and painting at aged care
"We'll be releasing the implementation for Work-for-the-Dole
in due course," Mr Hartsuyker told ABC Radio on Monday,
adding that the changes would be introduced in a "measured
and a methodical way".
He said the scheme would be compulsory and anyone who refused
to work would lose their Newstart payment.
Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) policy director
Jacqueline Phillips said the plans raised a number of
questions and concerns.
"If there is a need for additional workers to meet the needs
of local communities ... surely these positions should be
paid for properly, not at Newstart rates of $35 a day ...
well below the minimum wage," Ms Phillips told AAP.
She said Australia's experience with work-for-the-dole has
shown it is "not very effective getting people into jobs" and
instead promoted wage-subsidy schemes, from which almost half
of participants are in paid employment after six months.
Such a policy will increase Australia's jobless rate, Labor
MP Andrew Leigh said, referring to work-for-the-dole research
conducted during the Howard government.
"It found that work-for-the-dole increased joblessness
because it ended up diverting people from job-search
activities into work-for-the-dole activities," Mr Leigh said
of the Melbourne University study.
The ACTU went further with its criticism of the government's
proposal, labelling it a "lazy and damaging policy solution".
"The government vision on jobs is to attack decent wages,
encourage business to leave, deregulate the economy and now
put pressure on the unemployed," union national president Ged
Kearney said in a statement.
Mr Hartsuyker told News Corp that Prime Minister Tony Abbott
was "very focused" on expanding the work-for-the-dole scheme
and that the government takes a dim view of people who refuse
a job and stay on benefits.