Employment Minister Eric Abetz has acknowledged the government’s plan to force job seekers to apply for 40 jobs a month will impose a “real cost” on small businesses.
Senator Abetz gave the strongest indication yet that the government will water down its widely criticised proposal which would also require job seekers under 30 to conduct 25 hours of community service per week. Those aged between 30 and 50 would be required to work for 15 hours per week while those between 50 and 60 will be required to do 15 hours a week of training.
In an interview this week with the Macquarie Radio network, Senator Abetz said the plan had generated a “degree of community reaction”.
“On the other side, there is the view – and I think it’s a legitimate view – that getting people to apply for 40 jobs in a meaningless way will achieve no purpose and, what’s more, be a real burden to small businesses, especially in regional areas… So, we are factoring in all that community feedback,” he said.
The plan was part of the government’s $5.1bn jobs placement program and expanded work for the dole scheme announced in July. The policy is yet to be finalised following a period of consultation, although the government will take community feedback into account.
Council of Small Business of Australia executive director, Peter Strong, had previously said the obligation requiring job seekers to complete 40 job applications a month was not workable and would overwhelm small businesses. He predicted it would be changed.
The Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott also said she was concerned at the “practicality” of asking job seekers to apply for 40 job seekers per month.
Labor seized on the practical problems with opposition employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor saying business would be subject to a deluge of meaningless job applications.