Employment Minister Eric Abetz has defended unpopular changes to the Newstart allowance, by urging young, unemployed adults to take up fruit picking in Tasmania.
I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner. Mr Abetz, you sir, are a genius.
The modifications to Newstart allowance were announced as part of the 2014 Budget earlier this month, with changes forcing people under the age of 30 to wait six months before being able to receive any unemployment benefits.
Senator Abetz has stated that young people who were able to work had no right to rely on their fellow Australians to subsidise them.
“There is no right to demand from your fellow Australians that just because you don’t want to do a bread delivery or a taxi run or a stint as a farmhand that you should therefore be able to rely on your fellow Australian to subsidise you,” he said.
I’m not entirely sure if Senator Abetz gave himself a huge pat on the back for coming up with a solution that would solve the dramatic rise of Australia’s youth unemployment rates, with his highly original and innovative ideas.
But I do think he may have missed the point.
With his generalisations, Senator Abetz is alluding to the fact that young Australians are choosing to go on government benefits and relying on fellow Aussies to ‘subsidise’ them – stereotyping young Australian adults into a ‘lazy dole bludger’ cliche.
He assumes young people are not actively searching for employment, or are thinking they are too entitled to do something such as a ‘bread delivery’ or ‘taxi-run’ as he did as a young man while attending university.
The average income for a young adult – assuming they are single and with no children – on the Newstart Allowance is $510.50 a fortnight. Breaking this down, it means a young Australian adult on Newstart is earning $255.25 a week.
Do you want to know what it’s like trying to live on $255.25 a week and trying to sustain a comfortable life? It’s pretty freakin’ hard.
After I graduated last year, I was on Newstart until I moved to Sydney. Was it because I wanted to be? Absolutely not. Was it because I thought it was an easy way out and I could make some awesome dollars being ‘subsidised’ by my fellow Australians? Definitely not.
There was a severe shortage of jobs in the city I was living; even transient jobs in retail and customer service had fierce competition. As a university graduate, living away from home and trying to support myself, Newstart was a lifesaver. However, when you’re looking to cover things such as rent, groceries, transport and other living expenses, the allowance barely covers it.