14 May 2023
Federal Treasurer Chalmers considers JobSeeker proposal to encourage workforce participation
The Australian Coalition’s proposed increase of the JobSeeker income-free threshold has been met with opposition by Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth. In contrast, Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers did not dismiss the proposal and instead said that the government is always looking for ways to make it easier for people to participate in work. Opposition Leader Peter Dutton suggested that allowing JobSeeker recipients to work and earn more before their payments are reduced would be a solid incentive to get people into work.
According to Rishworth, the proposal has potential unintended consequences, and she implied that it had yet to undergo a thorough analysis or costing. The Australian government recently committed to increasing the base rate of JobSeeker by $40 per fortnight and extending eligibility for a higher rate to people over 55. Dutton has not supported this increase, calling instead for social security recipients to be able to earn more before payments are reduced.
Chalmers said that the government has a substantial agenda regarding workforce participation. The employment white paper due to be released later this year will consider proposals to help people enter the workforce. The government’s employment policies aim to assist people to work more, earn more and provide for their loved ones. Although Rishworth dismissed Dutton’s proposal as a thought bubble with no substantive analysis, the government uses the employment white paper process to examine a range of scenarios and analyses. Angus Taylor, the shadow treasurer, provided a robust defense of Peter Dutton’s proposal, claiming that it’s a sensible solution that could encourage more Australians to join the workforce.
Rishworth suggested that Dutton’s proposal could have unintended consequences and said that the employment white paper process would examine a range of scenarios and analysis. She also criticized the proposal as a significant burden on taxpayers. Despite criticism that the budget didn’t offer enough cost-of-living relief, Chalmers defended the budget and reiterated the government’s call for workforce participation. The opposition argued that the proposal would help recipients lose fewer benefits when taking on work, thereby encouraging them to work more.
In conclusion, the proposal to increase the JobSeeker income-free threshold has been met with mixed reactions. While the government has not dismissed the suggestion outright, they are examining it as part of their employment white paper process. Meanwhile, the opposition has argued that the proposal will incentivize people to work more and help them earn more by losing fewer benefits whether the government adopts this proposal or develops a new one to encourage workforce participation.