Submission to the Inquiry into the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Further Strengthening Job Seeker Compliance) Bill 2015

1. Executive summary

This Bill seeks to penalise job-seekers who choose not to enter into an Employment Pathway Plan, removes benefits from those who do not behave in an ‘appropriate’ manner at an appointment (to be defined by legislative instrument), punishes people who don’t participate in activities or interviews as prescribed by the government, and removes the discretion to continue to pay jobseekers who have refused “suitable work” their social security income. This discretion currently exists where those jobseekers are willing to reengage with job-seeking, unable to reengage with job-seeking, or are living in severe financial hardship.

In our view, this move inappropriately individualises what is a structural, labour market issue in Australia today.  It also explicitly removes money from people who are experiencing severe financial hardship, which will by definition result in even more extreme poverty for some of Australia’s poorest citizens.  It seeks to “punish” those who the government sees as morally unworthy, instead of seeking to engage in a meaningful way people who are the most socially excluded.

The Society opposes this Bill.