Daily News - Tuesday 27 May 2014
Get a haircut - and get a (farm) job
Lisa Cox, The Land
Are you young and unemployed? Take up fruit picking in Tasmania, says Employment Minister Eric Abetz as he defended unpopular changes to Newstart that would force people under the age of 30 to wait six months before receiving any unemployment benefits.
Fruit industry not 'babysitters' for jobless, farmers warn Abetz
Ross Lehman, ABC
Farmers have hit out at suggestions that fruit picking jobs are a ready option for unemployed young Tasmanians.
... The stance has angered the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association's Jan Davis who says she will be taking up the issue with the minister.
She says the fruit and vegetable industries are not the repositories for social welfare activities.
"We can't be held to deliver social welfare outcomes within a business structure," she said.
Aboriginal people in remote communities fear they could be hit hardest by welfare measures announced in the federal budget and are uncertain how changes will be applied.
Plans for a six-month waiting period for unemployment benefits for people under 30 have raised concerns that people who struggle to access work and training because of geography will be left out of pocket.
Aboriginal people who live a traditional lifestyle are being punished with the removal of their children by child protective services in what is being called a new Stolen Generation, a researcher says.
More Indigenous children have been removed from their families today than at any time in Australia's history, said Paddy Gibson, a senior researcher with the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at University of Technology, Sydney.
Top 20% of gamblers spend 87% of total gambling dollars
Roy Morgan Research, media release
Most of the money spent on gambling in Australia is spent by a minority of gamblers. Although heavy gamblers make up only 20% of the country’s gamblers, they account for almost 90% of the total annual gambling spend of $16.3 billion, according to the March 2014 results from the Roy Morgan Gambling Monitor.
Promoting responsible gambling
Haily Renault, North West Star
This year's theme, "Is your gambling risky or responsible?", was at the heart of Centacare's work to raise awareness about the financial and emotional impact gambling addiction has on Mount Isa families.
Centacare Family Relationships and Gambling Help Service program manager Menik Gunasekera said there was a distinct difference between social and problem gamblers.
Advice to gamblers: get help sooner than later
Isabell Petrinic, Blacktown Sun
More than 140 individuals and families have sought help from counsellors at Wesley Counselling Services in western Sydney since July 1, 2013, says operations manager Jeff Lucas.
CatholicCare Social Services saw more than 300 clients in the Blacktown and Parramatta local government areas — and rising.
Hardship Policies in Practice: A Comparative Study
Lauren Levin and Fiona Guthrie, Financial Counselling Australia, ACCAN
Drawing on the grassroots professional experiences of financial counsellors as well as focus group interviews with consumers, Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) produced a report outlining how the telecommunications industry's hardship policies and practices compare with those of the banking, energy and water industries.
There are concerns more people will be forced out on to the streets as shelters in Sydney come under threat due to cuts in welfare services.
The federal budget's cuts to welfare services include a review of the Disability Support Pension (DSP) and a push to get younger people off unemployment benefits - being told to earn or learn.
Pastor Graham Long from The Wayside Chapel in Sydney said there were growing fears that the number of people living on the streets would continue to rise.
Young unemployed could be denied welfare for longer than six months
Bridie Jabour, The Guardian
Unemployed young people could be denied income support for longer than the six months a year the government has flagged in the budget, with penalties applying if they miss job search interviews.
Guardian Australia understands the six-month period without any income support could be extended by a further two months if unemployed people under 30 miss appointments. If a certain number are missed then there is no way for the penalties to be waived, regardless of the person’s circumstances.
Hobby courses out of bounds under ‘earn or learn’
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)
Unemployed people under 30 will be banned from doing recreational courses such as cooking and aromatherapy to receive Youth Allowance under the government’s new “earn or learn” policy. They will instead be expected to take accredited courses that are “relevant to the labour market” to fulfil tough new criteria.
... Under the new rules, young people can avoid being cut off welfare altogether by enrolling in a course. But the courses will be specified, in order to prevent recipients from signing up to any course they can find.
... Jobs Australia chief executive David Thompson has described the new system as flawed because there were not enough training places.
He warned that the new rules would encourage under-30s to enrol in any training course quickly to ensure they were still eligible for a welfare payment, even if the course had no connection to a real job.
Single parents face sudden-death tax slug of 80%
Gareth Hutchens, Canberra Times
Single parents will soon have a huge disincentive to earn more than $48,000 a year due to a design quirk in the Abbott government's cuts to family payments.
Analysis from the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling shows the government's new single-parent family supplement - designed to offset the impact of the government's planned cuts to family tax benefit B - will result in prohibitively high effective marginal tax rates for single-parent families.
Call to lift income limit for housing
Phoebe Weane, West Australian
WA has the highest eligibility hurdle for public housing in Australia, with the amount a tenant is allowed to earn before they no longer qualify unchanged for almost a decade.
Creative accountancy masks welfare reality
David Crowe, The Australian ($)
Political disputes over the fairness of the federal budget are clouding debate over the government’s cuts to $20 billion paid out each year in family tax benefits.
... The source of Labor’s analysis, the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, has produced great work in recent weeks but that doesn’t mean its assumptions are beyond question. After all, Labor helped to set the assumptions when it commissioned the work.
Following the 2014-15 Budget, NATSEM undertook analysis of the impact of tax and benefit changes under the Coalition Government, commissioned by the Opposition. The work involved the estimation of the distributional impact on family incomes of the major changes to the tax and government benefit system under the Coalition Government as compared to under Labor, including the changes announced in this Budget. NATSEM’s analysis was not to analyse the merits of measures in the budget – just the financial impact on households.
Public purse to fund jobs growth
David Crowe and Adam Creighton
The nation’s jobs market will become increasingly reliant on taxpayers during the next five years, as mining and manufacturing shed staff to make way for an army of health, education and welfare workers.
... Almost 26 per cent of new jobs in the five years to 2018 will be in healthcare and the social assistance industry with another 13.3 per cent growth in education and training.
Burchell Wilson, chief economist at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said rapid growth of “non-market” work in the past six years was “peculiar”. “Strong growth in these public sector positions has overstated the resilience of the labour market, which is nevertheless still softening, and is ultimately unsustainable given these jobs rely upon tax dollars generated by the private sector,” he said.
Only firms afraid of transparency stand to benefit from the scrapping of the nation's charities watchdog.
That's the view of the man who chairs the advisory board of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission, which is set for the chop under federal government plans.
Supporters of the regulator argued at a Senate inquiry in Canberra on Friday it was doing its job in cutting red-tape and holding charities accountable.