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White Paper lays good foundations for full employment, clear goals and targets are the missing plank

ACOSS welcomes the aspiration of decent jobs for all in the federal government’s Employment White Paper released today, and calls for clear goals and targets to reduce unemployment and poverty to make those aspirations real.

“The government’s Employment White Paper lays good foundations for full employment, but two key planks are missing: clear goals and targets to reduce unemployment and poverty,” ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said.

“ACOSS welcomes the government’s commitment to decent jobs and regular paid hours for people who seek them, without having to wait too long. That would make a big difference for about 800,000 people on unemployment payments, two thirds of whom have relied on income support for over a year.

“However, without clear targets for unemployment and underemployment, the aspiration of full employment will struggle to become a reality. Official estimates have unemployment rising by 150,000 people to 4.5% next year.

“The other crucial gap in the White Paper is the lack of a clear commitment to reduce poverty, especially among people affected by unemployment and underemployment. Poverty-level income supports are a serious barrier to employment, not the income tests which the government has committed to ease. JobSeeker and associated payments of just $54 a day should be lifted to at least $78 a day.

“The White Paper rightly points to the huge potential to grow jobs in climate change adjustment and care services. The ability to grow decent, secure jobs in these sectors will require the government to make the necessary investments, especially in services that rely substantially on government funding.

“Root and branch reform of employment services is also vital, to lift the skills of people unemployed long-term and connect them with the right employer.”

Dr Goldie welcomed the government’s commitment to reform ‘Workforce Australia’ and the Local Jobs Program as well as the extension of time that income support recipients could access some benefits upon gaining employment.

“ACOSS is committed to working with the government, business and unions and to ensure full employment becomes a reality.

“We must ensure it is given equal priority to the RBA’s inflation target to stop over a hundred thousand people being thrown out of paid work unnecessarily.”

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