Entsch blasts “jobs snobs”

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Sarah Martin

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.

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