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John Passant

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May 2014



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Why is the Australian government targetting the unemployed?

The unemployed are one of the key targets in the Abbott Hockey Budget. According to the Budget papers:

Young jobseeker reforms

The Government believes that assistance to the unemployed should help them move into employment, rather than encouraging them to remain on welfare.

In order to reach their full potential, all young Australians who can work should be earning, learning or participating in Work for the Dole.

Income support eligibility changes

From 1 January 2015, new jobseekers up to 30 years of age applying for Newstart or Youth Allowance (Other) (YA(O)) will participate in job search and employment services activities which are funded by the Government for six months before receiving the payment.

Current recipients of Newstart and YA(O) up to 30 years of age will also be covered by the same requirements from 1 July 2015.
Young people who do not have a full capacity to work (i.e. their capacity is less than 30 hours), are in education or training, or have a significant disability will all be exempt from these requirements, as will those with parenting responsibilities.

The papers go on to say:

After six months, the jobseeker will be required to participate in at least 25 hours per week of Work for the Dole activities and will be eligible to receive income support for six months.

And then there is this lovely piece of bureaucratise:

Reinforcing the need for young Australians to either earn or learn, from 1 January 2015, young people aged 22 to 24 years may be eligible for YA(O) instead of Newstart.

In other words you won’t get the dole if you are unemployed and aged between 22 and 24. However if you take up study you might get Youth Allowance for studying full time.

So why is the government forcing those less than 30 years old who are on the dole into poverty, starvation and homelessness? Think I am exaggerating? How do you buy food and pay the rent without any government support while unemployed? You don’t. You might steal or prostitute yourself or run drugs to survive.

One answer to the question of why the government is attacking the unemployed is that it panders to the prejudices of the ruling class and their hangers on. It’s all the fault of the unemployed…

Another possible reason may be that it reduces the number of unemployed and so cuts the official unemployment rate without actually reducing unemployment.

The Treasurer predicted unemployment would increase to 6.25% and remain there for the next two years. Roy Morgan surveys show the real level of unemployment is over 11 percent and underemployment around 8 percent.

Forcing people off the dole for six months and so fiddling with the unemployment figures may hide part of the increase.
The Abbott government and its sick parrots also believe that people choose to be unemployed. Not true. Capitalism can’t provide enough jobs for working age people. Hence dole bludger rhetoric or its new ‘nicer’ variant – earn or learn.

Another reason is that one usual capitalist response to economic crisis is to cut wages. Having 200000 people under the lash of starvation might force many of them to accept any job at any pay. The pay of course will be low, drawing other workers into the downward wages spiral. Even though minimum wages are set by a Tribunal, in the market they will be under threat, and so too wages dependent on them.

With the systemic crisis of falling profit rates in North America and Europe showing little signs of fundamentally reversing, and the slowdown in Asia, especially China, gathering pace, and showing signs of coming to Australia soon, the demands across the globe and in Australia to cut wages will not disappear.

Forcing the unemployed into extreme poverty is an important part of the Australian government’s wage cutting strategy. It is time for our unions to defend the unemployed and hence their own members.

Stop work to stop the bosses’ Budget.

Forthcoming activities:

The Victorian Trades Hall Council has called a meeting of all union MEMBERS for 6pm Tuesday 20 May 2014 in the New Council Chambers, Trades Hall (54 Victoria St) to discuss a response to the Budget. It says:

Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have handed down the most brutal budget in recent history. It cannot go unanswered by our movement.

There will be an All Unions General Meeting – 6pm Tuesday 20 May 2014 in the New Council Chambers, Trades Hall (54 Victoria St South Carlton) to discuss the movement’s response.

All union members are welcome to attend.

Please share among your networks

This is a good first step and members in other states and territories should start lobbying their trade unions and trade union councils to do the same.

In Melbourne there will be a March in May to Bust the Budget from 2 pm on Sunday 18 May at the State Library

On 21 May there will demonstrations across Australia in defence of education.



Pingback from Why is the Australian government targetting the unemployed? | OzHouse
Time May 14, 2014 at 10:11 pm

[…] May 14 2014 by admin […]

Comment from Harry Feldman
Time May 15, 2014 at 7:57 am

Eligibility for Centrelink benefits has no impact on the unemployment rate, which is derived from the ABS’s monthly Labour Force Survey alone.

What COULD have an impact is work for the dole. While participants in work for the dole schemes are explicitly included in the ‘Unemployed’ category ( Paragraphs 2.43-45), The most recent available version of the Labour Force questionnaire doesn’t evidence the capacity to distinguish them reliably from others who responded that they did ‘any work at all in a job, business or farm’, unless through an answer of ‘Other’ to the payment arrangements question (Q30=10) (

If international standards for labour force statistics are any guide, the published unemployment rates ARE the real unemployment rates. There are other, and probably more useful, measures of ‘labour underutilisation’ (e.g. the employment-population ratio), but they are not the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate is not, and was never intended to be, a measure of standard of living, social inclusion, or anything else other than ‘labour market slack’ – the proportion of the ‘economically active population’ (the ‘labour force’ – the sum of the employed plus the unemployed) comprising the reserve army of labour, a measure doubtless of considerably greater interest to the bosses than our wellbeing. (

As I see it, the fundamental message in the budget for the unemployed, the disabled, the Indigenous, the elderly, et al. is, ‘We consider you expendible and we don’t care if you know it’!

Comment from Lorikeet
Time May 16, 2014 at 11:00 am

Yes, I think sinking the boot into the young does the following:

. further disguises the high rate of unemployment

. makes younger people dependent on their parents, who may also be struggling to find work

. stops young people from buying homes, so they have to rent from corporates

. so bankers can reclaim some people’s homes

. stops young people from marrying and having children

. makes them incur high fees for tertiary study, even if there are no jobs at the end

. gives state Premiers’ wives more people to patronise on Homeless Connect Day


. to ramp up the tensions between the young and the old, making a Euthanasia Bill more palatable

. to ramp up racial and religious tensions due to foreign workers taking Aussie jobs and driving down wages and working conditions

. to cut the minimum wage and penalty rates using Work for the Dole

This morning a government psychologist told me she is not allowed to join a union for fear of losing her job. When redundancies are offered or contracts end, union members are the first to be thrown out.

Comment from Dr Professor
Time May 16, 2014 at 1:45 pm

I don’t believe the idea is about forcing the existing under 30s into poverty, I believe it is more geared towards breaking the cycle that allowed them as youths to take unemployment as an option the first place.

While it will be tough on some under 30s who are unemployed, the chance of being under 30 and structurally unemployed (ie, part of an industry that technology has rendered obsolete) is significantly lower than if you are over 30 and these are the people we should be looking after first. The number of people who are likely to need welfare as a result of illness is also sufficiently lower in under 30s than over 30s which makes under 30s the most rational choice for placing limitations on welfare.

There are few reasons that people below 20 for example should be on the dole, relative to say people over 30, who perhaps have less support networks available to them than youths do. Staying at home with parents for example is an option that is available to significantly more 20 year olds than it is to 40 year olds.

I actually really like the idea of ‘earn or learn’ for younger Australians, but I think 30 years is too old… I would have said < 26 would be the way to go. The reasons are:

-no youth should be permitted to go straight from high school and on to the dole. I feel situations are significantly rare enough where it was impossible for a youth to find employment if they are actually willing to work. Not being willing to work should not be used as an excuse not to enter the real world.

-It is easier to move as a younger Australian to locations where you have a greater chance of being employed than it is once you are an older Australian. Older Australians are more likely to have families to support or have hinderances to relocation than people under 25 years.

-The welfare rate on tax paid in Australia is 83c in the dollar. That means that of each $1 paid in tax, 83c goes to people on welfare. This is not a sustainable rate. The easiest subgroup of people on welfare to cut is the youth subgroup because of the other options available to them. I'd rather youth welfare was cut to increase or maintain pensioners welfare, when compared with cut all categories.

However I think if you go down this road, you need to at the same time make education more afforable rather than less so to encourage and allow people to be educated, as well as making it more available and flexible (increase night and online courses which tafe and universities provide for example) to allow people some freedom to take on further education.

I also think the government should be looking to offer a subsidy or low interest relocation loan to youths who need to relocate in order to find work.

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