A federal government backbencher has broken ranks to criticise changes to welfare rules, fearing they will impose a meaningless burden on people seeking work.
Tasmanian Liberal MP Bridget Archer condemned moves to force unemployed people to apply for many more jobs each month in exchange for “a very modest increase” in their dole payments.
Ms Archer said the changes to mutual obligations were “very unhelpful”.
“There is an opportunity to ensure we look at how mutual obligation can be a more useful tool for those seeking work, rather than the increasingly meaningless burden it puts on both the potential employer and the potential employee,” she told parliament on Tuesday night.
“I fail to see how encouraging jobseekers to apply for jobs that they are in no way able to fill is helping anyone.”
Ms Archer said tightening the screws on unemployed people would do nothing to reduce their barriers to work, and would force local businesses to sift through hundreds of applications from unsuitable candidates.
Unemployed people will be required to search for at least 15 jobs a month from April, which will increase to 20 per month in July.
Jobseekers who do not find employment after six months will have to work for the dole or engage in intensive training.
A hotline will also be established for employers to dob in people who decline work. Their welfare payments could be suspended as a consequence.
In exchange, the dole will be increased by $25 per week.
Labor will support the legislative changes, ensuring their smooth passage through parliament, and oppose any moves to further increase the rate out of fears it could delay the bill.
Ms Archer has previously broken ranks to advocate for an increase to the dole.
She is now calling for much broader reform of the social security system.
“We can’t and we won’t move the dial on long-term unemployment or intergenerational unemployment if we don’t have wider reform,” Ms Archer told parliament.
“Reform that addresses the barriers preventing a jobseeker recipient looking for or accepting meaningful work, such as access to child care, reliable transport, mental and physical health challenges, trauma and disadvantage.”