No more dole, Tony Abbott warns the under-30s

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Rats's picture
Joined: 9-05-08
Apr 21 2010 05:50
No more dole, Tony Abbott warns the under-30s
Mr Abbott told the roundtable briefing he believed stopping dole payments to able-bodied young people would take pressure off the welfare system and reduce the need to bring in large numbers of skilled migrants to staff mining projects.

His comments were attacked last night by Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes, who described them as "Hansonesque".

"If he genuinely thinks you are going to solve an economically crippling skills shortage by taking punitive measures against welfare recipients, he has clearly never lived in the real world," Mr Howes said.

What surprises me isn't that abbott is suggesting this, it was bound to happen, rudd already canned it for under 21's(see, earn or learn) as of June this year. What surprised me is that a trade unionist, from the AWU of all, has said something excellent in one of these articles.

LeftResistance's picture
Joined: 30-04-09
Apr 21 2010 13:44

lol Howes is an absolute wanker, but yea... this is fucked...

Joined: 29-01-07
Apr 21 2010 13:47
Gabs wrote:
What surprises me isn't that abbott is suggesting this, it was bound to happen, rudd already canned it for under 21's(see, earn or learn) as of June this year. What surprised me is that a trade unionist, from the AWU of all, has said something excellent in one of these articles.

Yeah, although when we try to patch something together from other soundbites, its clear the unions are more concerned about the effect of unskilled workers on productivity, than about people's welfare. e.g.

Howes wrote:
You can't just pluck any old Joe out of an area of chronic unemployment, dump them in a mine and think that that somehow is going to solve the skills shortage, because the shortage is about skills.
Steven Smyth, CFMEU wrote:
To take people and say 'right, you can go and work in an underground coal mine or an open cut coal mine' without having the proper training, the skills and the competency I think would be disastrous and is something the union is not in favour of. We'd push the opposite, that the people be high skilled, highly trained, and competent.

circle A-K's picture
circle A-K
Joined: 20-07-06
Apr 22 2010 04:11

This is pretty cynical politics from so many directions.

Playing to racism and anti-immigrant sentiment whilst simultaneously appearing to address the so-called 'skill shortage', whilst also appealing to anti-welfare/youth sentiment.

This might be a part of Abbotts strategy for the next election, not this disgraceful 'welfare reform' idea (though who knows with him?), but reinforcing the older vote. The libs know that the under 30s (who can/vote) were a big boost to Rudd at the last election, and that his ratings (and the libs ratings in general) with this group are pretty dismal. So instead of trying to entice that segment with the usual buy-offs or whatever is most expedient on the day, he'll isolate them and focus on the much larger voting block of 'aged australians' - a group that does back the libs/nats but can vote labour just as easy depending on how the issues are defined (and kicking on the youth and on welfare is almost a staple of australian populism, recent credit to J.W. Howard).

Now i'm not suggesting this is anything new for electoral politics, abbott or the libs of course, just wondering what the next salvo will be.. i'm guessing immigration/border security (I know right?! It's like the Jeebus of Dead Horses), and Rudd true to form has already set up his defence and de facto taken the lead so far in the traditional 'Election Race to Inhumanitarianism' (see: recent 'temporary' changes to Immigration policy).

With Sober Senses's picture
With Sober Senses
Joined: 14-07-08
Apr 22 2010 06:45

I actually think this is really interesting in that as well as speaking ideologically Abbott is directly talking about one of the serious contradictions in Australian capitalism: the labour shortage. Also he is clearly identifying welfare as a key tool to attempt to solve this.

I don't think Capital has either a solution or mechanism to solve this challenge.

rebel love

Rats's picture
Joined: 9-05-08
Apr 22 2010 13:11

Elaborate grumpy cat, why don't you think it has a mechanism?

The welfare cut would seem to me to be an excellent mechanism, and with the success of 'earn or learn' sliding through under the noses of the youth, how will this differ? It seems like abbott has more ammunition with the whole "we're gonna give you jobs! and keep them refo's out!" than rudd does with the "we're just cutting the dole, that's it." program.

@ndy's picture
Joined: 17-03-06
Apr 22 2010 16:54

Abbott's remarks should, I think, be read as merely the latest in an ongoing -- in fact, never-ending -- propaganda campaign against the unemployed; and, moreover, against the provision by the state of 'welfare payments': payments which are, in the final analysis, to ensure the survival of a large body of what is surplus -- and thus largely useless -- labour. It would be wrong, therefore, to take him too seriously, and precisely for the reasons Paul Howes (and others) refers to: employers do not actually want to employ unskilled workers in roles requiring specialised skills.

Although I'd like to, I don't agree with grumpy cat that 'capital' does not have the capacity to resolve labour shortages, even seemingly acute ones such as currently afflict the mining industry. Rather, when The Mad Monk openly wonders about cutting the dole for the under-30s, he's appealing -- as circle A-K has suggested -- to widespread public antipathy towards 'dole bludgers', and doing so in advance of a Federal election. Beyond this, in advancing a 'right-wing' position, KRudd has left Abbott with little option but to shift further 'right', and to consider extending the punitive measures currently employed against the under-21s to the under-30s (a move which echoes the extension of the CDP -- previously confined to indigenous Australians -- to the whole of the unemployed by way of the 'Work for the Dole' scheme). Finally, with regards Howes' position, it's the more reasonable one, and as such further proof, if any were needed, that when he finally gets the nod, he'll be welcomed into the Parliament as the sensible technocrat he undoubtedly is.

See also : Dole bludgers, tax payers and the new right: constructing discourses of welfare in 1970s Australia (Verity Archer)

Joined: 30-11-09
Apr 22 2010 23:27

Similar dole cuts are being proposed over this side of the ditch by our right-wing National govt. my guess is that this is part of a larger drive to create a more casualized workforce. Of course the Labour opposition have kicked up a token fuss however they're are more than likely pleased the Nats are doing the dirty jobs for them, were they to be re-elected next time round they would almost certainly avoid reversing the measures.

There are 43,000 solo parents on the dole, so even for those who don't get kicked off measures, such as being forced to reapply each year, make a token effort to look for work etc.. will no doubt add a larger amount of stress to the already infuriating process of having to deal with the government bureaucracy. Most of these people will not get given the boot, however given that many other people (primarily young, casual workers like myself) will be affected it gives you an idea that the numbers here are pretty fucking huge for a country of 4 mil.

From what I understand the attacks of the 90s were generally a cut to beneficiary wage rather than an all out push to kick people off, though I may be wrong about that. If this is the case however it gives further weight to my initial speculation that this is a drive to force people into casual and part-time work. Having been on the job hunt for the better part of the year I can testify to the fact that there is a reasonable of amount casual, short-term and part-time work out there, however a serious lack of full-time work remains (this is based on my own observations, I can try dig up some numbers though). Of course the problem for the capitalists is that most people with half a brain would opt to go on the dole rather than work 12 - 15 hours a week for pretty much the same amount of money. How to solve this problem? You kick people off the dole.

Furthermore these sorts of measures will actually require a larger amount of work on the part of WINZ (work and income) bureaucrats; reprocessing applications yearly, making sure people are looking for work, inventing other pointless schemes for getting young workers into some kind of training programme etc... So this may not be completely about saving money, as in some respects it could cost more money and will certainly increase the level of bureaucracy. Like I've said I think its a push to get people into casual work.

The political representatives of the Maori bourgeoisie are also offering up some symbolic resistance. Hardly surprising given there is no doubt these measures will disproportionately affect Maori. Hone Hariwira, the governments token wadical, seems to have been let off the leash briefly.

''It's bloody ridiculous to make beneficiaries look for work when there aren't any jobs,'' Maori Party MP Hone Harawira said during the first reading debate.

Of course given his previous days as a 'grass roots activist' its hardly surprising Hone is up for a bit of cock waving. Doubtless the subject will be dropped in due course.

For a bit of a lol though, I managed to find an article about Tariana Turia (a key figure in the Maori political establishment) advocating we scrap the dole in 2008.

"Yes. Absolutely. I'm opposed to the dole. I have to be very frank with you - I don't think it is healthy for the spirit of our people, to be getting money for doing nothing."


"What we need is the government to make work, to get our people back into a strong work ethic."

This was in 2008 when the Maori Party began their swing to the right, so it seems the class antagonisms within Maori society are starting to become much more pronounced. A bit embarrassing for those members of the leftist/liberal/anarchist/dipshit milieu who have long been having wet dreams about 'Maori self-determination'. Predictably this had lead to the creation of a Maori bourgeoisie who have in practice been more than happy to egg the government along when a new initiative for disciplining the Maori proletariat is undertaken.

A bit of a rant sorry, however given the lack of stable work, attacks on beneficiaries and the highly likely possibility of GST being raised from 12-15% (NZ has a flat GST rate), the living standards of the proletariat in this country are almost certainly going to take a sharp drop. Given the low intensity of the any class struggle the Nats are probably seeing just how much they can get away with. These harsh attacks on the dole (and they are fucking harsh) are a part of that. As a despicable dole bludger myself I think this is almost certainly an issue we will start trying to organize around, we had a public discussion on the subject earlier in the year before the measures were announced. Unfortunately there are a shitload of practical barriers when it comes to organizing us bludgers. One avenue, however, could be to try and appeal to WINZ bureaucrats for solidarity against the measures, as their workload will undoubtedly sky-rocket when this shit hits the fan.

Skraeling you should chip in here, your analysis of the situation will probably be far more solid than mine.