The waiting time for unemployment benefits will be cut from six months to four weeks for people under the age of 25, in a $330 million program to be unveiled in tonight’s budget.
It is a part of the Government’s small business package aimed at boosting job growth across the country.
It appears to be another backdown on a controversial 2014 budget measure — the so-called “earn and learn” package, which proposed a six-month wait for unemployment benefits for jobseekers under 30 years of age.
That failed to garner support in Parliament and was met with widespread criticism in the community.
As part of the changes, $106 million will go towards helping young people struggling to get work due to their personal circumstances, including those suffering mental health problems or young migrants.
Mr Hockey will also announce $14 million will be spent to encourage people leaving school early to enter into work or training.
A further $212 million is earmarked for a new youth transition to work program to help end long-term welfare dependence, including support for community organisations that help young people find jobs, apprenticeships and traineeships.
The announcement comes amid further Opposition criticism of the Government’s centrepiece families package.
While Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Social Services Minister Scott Morrison have been spruiking the $3.5 billion initiative, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten criticised how the Government was proposing to pay for the measures – changes to Family Tax Benefits.
“The Prime Minister has famously said, and I quote, ‘providing more Government benefits to employed mothers than to stay-at-home ones is not only unfair, but is going to strike many people as an attack on the traditional family’,” Mr Shorten said.
“In light of his own famous comments, why is the Prime Minister cutting $6,000 to family payments, and why is he slashing childcare assistance to stay at home mums?”
Mr Abbott hit back at the alleged hypocrisy, saying the Government has listened to the community and has changed its policies according to the current financial climate.
“There are many things that would be desirable at this time, but simply can’t be delivered because of the $123 billion of cumulative deficits, and the $667 billion of peak debt we inherited from members opposite,” he said.
“This is a budget which has to be measured because we are dealing with Labor’s debt and deficit disaster.
“It has to be responsible and there will be a clear and credible path back to surplus, and above all else it has to be fair.”