Entsch blasts “jobs snobs”
COALITION MPs with thousands of dole recipients in their electorates, including Leichhardt incumbent Warren Entsch, have hit out at “job snobs” and demanded the government target those who are “working the system” by choosing welfare over work and leaving employers to rely on foreign labour.
Warning that employers, particularly in regional areas, are “competing with the welfare system” in the domestic labour market, backbench MPs are calling for last week’s abolition of the 457 visa program to be coupled with measures to toughen access to unemployment benefits.
Warren Entsch, who coined the term “job snobs”, said the welfare system was working as a disincentive to work.
Many jobs in his electorate were filled by foreign workers despite one in four young people in the regional centre of Cairns being without a job.
He said the government needed to target those “working the system”, knocking back jobs they were capable of doing.
Nationals MP David Littleproud, whose outback Queensland electorate of Maranoa has almost 6000 people on Newstart payments, said he believed young unemployed people should have to take jobs where they were available. “If they are on unemployment benefits and there is a job in regional Australia, they should be encouraged to take that and if they don’t, then that should be their decision and not the taxpayer’s decision,” he said.
“They shouldn’t expect the Australian taxpayer to support their lifestyle choices.”
Across regional areas, there were more than 10,000 workers on 457 visas at the end of last year, but the number of foreign workers in the bush is far higher once backpacker labour and workers under the re- gional skilled migration program are included.
The call for more government action on welfare comes as Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said his message to Australians not willing to work was to “damn well get off your backside” or risk losing benefits.
Following the government’s crackdown on the temporary migrant worker scheme this week, employer groups and the agricultural sector cautioned that regional areas dependent on foreign labour would need exemptions because they could not fill the positions under an “Australian first” mandate.
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the government had introduced legislation to target those who repeatedly refused mutual obligation requirements, but it had been blocked by Labor and the Greens.
“The government will continue to pursue new ways in which the small proportion of people who deliberately shirk work that is available can be held to account,” Senator Cash said.