Government backs down on dole change

Tony Abbott is defending his government’s backdown on a plan to force job seekers to apply for 40 positions a month, saying he’s fair dinkum when it comes to listening to feedback.

The government’s proposal to double the job application target for Newstart Allowance recipients was widely criticised as punitive for job seekers and an administrative nightmare for businesses.

The status quo of 20 applications will remain.

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The prime minister conceded the government had made some significant “refinements” to the practicalities of the policy.

“The only fair dinkum consultations are (ones) that can and do result in some refinements and where necessary some changes,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz said the government had acknowledged the policy would have put a burden on business and possibly diminish the value of job applications.

He maintained it should be the full-time job of the unemployed to gain employment and believes the 40 job application target would not have been too onerous.

Greens Leader Christine Milne said she was pleased the government had backed down. She says the government must now also abandon plans to force under-30s to wait six months before they can claim the dole.

The government will extend the work for the dole program.

Those under 30 will have to complete 25 hours a week of the program while older job seekers between age 30 and 50 will have to complete 15 hours.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry boss Kate Carnell said the government’s decision to revert to 20 job applications a month is a step in the right direction.

“The fact is they listened,” Ms Carnell told reporters in Canberra.

The chamber was one of 60 organisations that put in a submission to the government over the issue.

“We made it clear to the government that 40 was not doable, it was silly really,” she said.

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