Unemployed told to start looking for work

Daniel McCulloch
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Hundreds of thousands of Australians sacked during the coronavirus pandemic have been told to start looking for work.

Mutual obligations such as job interviews came back into force on Tuesday for most of those unemployed.

Victorians will be exempt from the rules as the state braces for extended lockdowns.

Sole traders and self-employed business owners will also be excused.

At first, welfare recipients won’t be penalised for failing to meet their conditions.

But Employment Minister Michaelia Cash expects job seekers to accept any suitable offers of paid work.

Anyone who refuses a decent job without a valid excuse will have their payment cancelled and may need to wait four weeks before reapplying for income support.

“The Australian government recognises this continues to be a challenging time for those looking for work,” Senator Cash said.

“Our focus remains on getting people back into jobs and rebuilding our economy as quickly as possible.”

Mutual obligations have been suspended throughout the coronavirus pandemic due to strict social distancing rules and public health concerns.

Greens senator Rachel Siewert has called for mutual obligations to be suspended for the rest of the year.

Senator Siewert has also raised the prospect of abolishing the system altogether, questioning whether it is fit for purpose.

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