Australia: Labor government implements new onerous welfare requirements


Further onerous new requirements on the unemployed have come into effect with the new financial year. The imposition of the punitive regime by the new federal Labor government further underscores how quickly its sham election promises of a “better future” have given way to demands for sacrifices, and attacks on the most vulnerable sections of the working class.

Unemployed workers outside an inner-western Sydney Centrelink office in March 2020 [Source: WSWS Media]

The new “Points Based Activation System” (PBAS) mandates a series of tasks and criteria for the unemployed to receive their sub-poverty level JobSeeker payment.

The PBAS expands on the former mutual obligation system which required 20 job applications per month. The new system now requires those on welfare to accumulate 100 points per month by completing a range of activities. More than 30 such activities are listed. If someone does not meet the monthly points target, they can be punished with demerits and the suspension of their payment.

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The points-based system has been implemented at the direct behest of big business. While supporting the victimisation and harassment of the unemployed, corporate lobbies have complained that the previous job search requirement had resulted in businesses being inundated with job applications, including from those not qualified for the position.

The PBAS was passed through parliament in March this year under the former Morrison Coalition government with the bipartisan support of Labor as part of the Social Security Legislation Amendment Bill 2022. This followed localised trials of the points-based regime beginning in 2019.

Despite Labor having passed the measure, Labor employment minister Tony Burke cynically declared last month: “It’s actually too late to not have a points system at all.” Burke added, “We want to make sure… that we can have a system that’s designed to get people into work.”

In other words, the PBAS scheme aims to make it harder for unemployed young people and workers to remain on welfare benefits. Its purpose is to force them into low-paid, temporary and casual work on whatever terms and conditions employers demand.

Burke also declared that Labor supports “mutual obligations,” that is the idea that the unemployed must perform services to society in return for their payments. This is directed against any conception of a social safety net, or welfare as a fundamental social right.

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Australia: Labor government implements new onerous welfare requirements

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