Work for the dole 40-job rule flexible in rural areas: Sussan Ley

Federal MP Sussan Ley
Federal MP Sussan Ley

BORDER federal MP Sussan Ley yesterday said some leeway could be given to rural residents unable to apply for 40 jobs a month under new work for the dole rules.

The member for Farrer said some parts of Australia obviously had fewer job opportunities.

“But you have to set a benchmark somewhere,” she said.

Ms Ley said a critical part of the reforms — to be implemented in July next year — was a work for the dole co-ordinator “in our employment region”.

That person’s job, she said, would be to source places for people and to work with local organisations and providers.

Regarding the minimum 40 job applications a month rule, Ms Ley said if there were “exceptional or special circumstances” — or a limited number of local vacancies — that could and would be taken into account.

Ms Ley’s comments came as the federal government admitted there was a risk of box-ticking from job seekers forced to apply for 40 jobs a month.

Labor has warned that businesses will face a deluge of fake job applications under the government’s measures.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz has said that could be a fair criticism.

“We, as a government, do not want box-ticking to take place,” he said.

“We don’t want red tape and inconvenience to employers, but what we do want is a genuine attempt by the job seeker to obtain employment.”

Business has said it was concerned about the efficacy of the job search arrangements, saying that it would be better if people concentrated on jobs they had the best chance of obtaining.

But Senator Abetz said the jobless could not be choosy about the jobs available and any work experience was beneficial.

“There are clearly some job snobs around,” he said.

“We need to encourage them, for their own sake, for their own benefit — to get them off welfare and into employment.”

Ms Ley said she also welcomed the idea of a regional loading for employment providers.

That, she said, was designed to recognise local labour conditions, “along with our relocation assistance package for a job seeker wanting to find work elsewhere”, if something matching their skills was not available in their area.

“This is all about jobs, providing a system that works and one that gets a better result for taxpayer dollars,” she said.