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Tough love for unemployed

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The federal government says the unemployed should be out looking for work every day as it prepares to make them search for up to 40 jobs a month and perform up to 25 hours of weekly community work.

“It is absolutely obvious that if you are sitting at home not looking for work you are unlikely to get a job.”

Asked if applying for 40 jobs a month was feasible, Assistant Employment Minister Luke Hartsuyker said the more someone applied for work and the more effort they put into the job search, the better the outcome.

“It is absolutely obvious that if you are sitting at home not looking for work you are unlikely to get a job,” Mr Hartsuyker told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.

“What we want to do is motivate job seekers to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of a job.”

Under the government’s new three-year $5.1 billion job placement program, to be launched from July next year, work for the dole will be mandatory for job seekers younger than 50.

Jobseekers younger than 30 would have to work 25 hours a week under the expanded program, while those between 30 and 49 will be asked to do 15 hours work a week, and those aged 50-60, 15 hours a week.

Wage subsidies will be expanded for mature age workers, and extended to young job seekers under 30 and the long-term unemployed.

The initiative was aimed at giving the unemployed valuable skills such as turning up on time, being appropriately presented, being able to get on with work mates, Mr Hartsuyker said.

“Many young job seekers lack those skills and work for the dole has the ability to impact those very skills,” he said.

Labor accused the government of tearing apart the principles of the mutual obligation system.

The new arrangements will mean jobseekers under 30 will receive no welfare for six months but still be required to door-knock for jobs.

“They will not receive a cent, even if they look for work each day, each week, for six months,” opposition employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor told ABC radio.

“Yet now they’re having to keep their side of the bargain.”

The tough new dole requirements will set jobseekers up to fail, Greens leader Christine Milne says.

“We should stop demonising people who don’t have a job, and suggesting that every unemployed person doesn’t want to work,” she told reporters in Hobart.

Mr Hartsuyker said critics of work for the dole were relying on very old research.

“The information that I get as I get around the country is that job seekers who participate in work for the dole find it a rewarding experience,” he said.

“… An experience that often leads directly to a job, and an experience that gives them a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”