News National Controversial MP calls for six-month cap on the dole

Controversial MP calls for six-month cap on the dole

changes to the dole
George Christensen wants to fix Queensland's youth unemployment. Photo: AAP
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Queensland MP George Christensen has continued his headline-making week with a proposal to radically cut unemployment benefits in order to prevent changes to superannuation for high-income earners.

Mr Christensen told The Sunday Mail he would submit a plan to the Nationals party room to cap Newstart benefits, which currently cost Australia $9 billion a year, to a maximum of six months.

changes to the dole
Mr Christensen was criticised for addressing a Reclaim Australia rally in 2015. Photo: AAP

“Maybe if they know their dole will run out in six months they’ll go and get a job,” he told the paper.

Last Wednesday, Mr Christensen threatened to cross the floor over Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to cap non-concessional super contributions at $500,000, saying the plan would “penalise” successful Australians.

The Member for Dawson said the savings would also force young Queenslanders to accept farming jobs.

MP ‘annoyed’ by cost of benefits

Mr Christensen said people under the age of 45 on Newstart should be left to their own devices after six months.

He said the previous Abbott government had “squibbed it” after backing down from a plan to make young Australians wait six months before receiving the dole.

changes to the dole
About 750,000 Australians currently claim Newstart payments. Photo: Getty

Mr Abbott ditched the controversial plan in 2015, instead making job seekers wait four weeks before receiving benefits.

Mr Christensen, whose electorate includes workers in the mining, fishing and sugar industries, argued farmers were struggling to find workers despite the high rates of youth unemployment in Queensland.

He said the backpacker tax, which applied a uniform 32.5 per cent income tax to backpacker labour, was hurting the industry.

“Every single farmer says ‘it will kill us’ because we won’t have any labour,” he said.

Mr Christensen also claimed some workers were purposefully getting themselves fired in order to go back on unemployment benefits.

According to the ABS, unemployment in outback Queensland sat at 13 per cent in May – more than double the national average of 5.8 per cent.

Dole already facing crackdown

The Coalition has already angered the welfare system this year by promising $2.3 billion in savings to help fund its election promises.

Treasurer Scott Morrison promised unemployment and disability recipients would not have their benefits slashed, but rather the savings would be made by clamping down on benefit fraud and overpayments.

changes to the dole
Scott Morrison promised a crackdown on pensions. Photo: AAP

Nearly 750,000 Australians currently receive the payment which, for singles, is about $38 per day.

Labor, on the other hand, called for a review into the dole in March this year.

“Newstart is clearly not the safety net is it supposed to be; it is neither keeping people out of poverty nor providing them with the financial resources they need,” Labor said in its Growing Together report.

Big week for outspoken MP

Mr Christensen also made waves last week for a Facebook post about the attack on Merrylands Police Station in Sydney.

He was forced to backtrack after referring to the incident as a “failed terror attack”.

“I wonder how quickly some idiot is going to inanely say this has nothing to do with Islam or talk about a religion of peace,” Mr Christensen wrote on his Facebook page, despite the attack not being terror-related or carried out by a Muslim.

Mr Christensen refused to completely retract the comments, instead saying his original point still stood.

“I say again: we need to discuss the rise of radical Islam within Australia and the threat it poses to national security. More so, we need to work out what we do about it.”

The MP last week also said he would encourage a “ban [on] immigration from countries where there is a high level of radicalism and violent extremism”.

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