Bill Shorten’s Labor opposition is preparing to walk away from the unemployment program, Work for the Dole, arguing it punishes the unemployed, puts young people in unsafe workplaces, and too often fails to get them into work, The Age reports.
The decision, yet to formalised, would remove the last vestiges of bipartisanship underpinning a scheme that has operated under governments of both stripes, while exposing Labor to the charge that it is weak on mutual obligation for welfare recipients.
Signalling the move, Labor’s spokesman on employment services and workforce participation, Ed Husic, launched a stinging attack on the program in Parliament during Thursday’s adjournment debate, calling the scheme, costing $156 million this year, a “dud” from which seven out of 10 compulsory participants, failed to find stable work.
“The biggest thing for us right now is to put a sharp focus on the safety issues around the program and the fact that the Coalition has had more than enough warning that there are elements of this that are basically unsafe.
Among the concerns Labor cites around Work for the Dole are cases where participants have been exposed to asbestos, and a case in Toowoomba where an 18-year old participant was killed on a Work for the Dole project.
Mr Husic said the government should concentrate on fixing the safety problems and then work out if the program as a whole could be improved or if it should be replaced.
He is building support within the opposition to replace it with a program that is “a lot more focused” on building up skills among the jobless that are actually needed in the 21st century economy.
But the Turnbull government remains committed to the program describing it as highly effective for some and consistent with its view that the best form of welfare is a job.
Labor’s ‘walk’ from the dole program (The Age)