The federal government’s plan to force job seekers to apply for 40 jobs a month is “short-sighted” and will cost the economy $700 million a year, according to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
Under the $5.1 billion policy, job seekers will have to search for 40 jobs a month and perform 25 hours of community service in order to access welfare payments.
Speaking at the Council of Small Business of Australia National Small Business Summit in Melbourne this morning, Shorten described the proposed changes to welfare as economically damaging.
“It is a half-baked plan that shows no understanding of small business,” said Shorten.
“For the sake of a couple of tough-talking tabloid headlines, the government is prepared to unleash a tsunami of unsolicited and underprepared resumes on the small businesses of Australia.”
Shorten said the policy will hit small business operators particularly hard because, unlike large corporations, SMEs often do not have HR staff working full-time to sift through a pile of resumes.
“It won’t be Centrelink or job services providers that will have to manage this massive flow of paper,” he said.
“It will be you – and hundreds of thousands of small business proprietors like you.”
“This takes you away from the business, away from the counter, away from design work, planning and budgeting and takes away time you could be spending with customers.”
Shorten also attempted to win small businesses over by saying Labor would keep innovation at the forefront of its policy agenda.
“Labor is looking positively and closely at changes to the Employee Share Scheme, to ensure that the tax burden aligns with the likely realisation of equity stakes in a company,” he said.
“This would remove a significant drag on innovation – and it would make it easier for small businesses to grow a new idea into a profitable business.”
Speaking to SmartCompany previously, Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, described the policy of forcing job seekers to apply for 40 jobs a month as a distraction from the otherwise good work the government is doing to help small businesses by reducing red tape.
“Obviously it’s not going to work,” said Strong.
“There are some communities in regional Australia where there are hardly any businesses and several hundred unemployed and they are going to be inundated.”
Strong said he hoped the policy will not go ahead.
“[The government] are trying to talk tough and be tough but I don’t think they will go ahead with this,” he said.
“I am hoping by next July they will come up with a training response instead.”
Australia’s unemployment rate is currently sitting at 6.4% – the highest level in more than 10 years.