Shorten to keep dole low, even though he ‘couldn’t live on it’

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Shorten to keep dole low, even though he ‘couldn’t live on it’

Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten has refused to increase the dole, despite the fact that he ‘wouldn’t like to try and live on [it]’.

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Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten has refused to increase the dole, despite the fact that he ‘wouldn’t like to try and live on [it]’.

The dole — or Newstart allowance — is currently $243.40 a week for a single person.

Shorten said in a radio interview that he had no plans to raise the payment, but didn’t want to say it would not increase ‘forever and a day’.

‘There are two things in life that set you up — a job, a good job and an education, and ideally that’s supported by a decent healthcare system and retirement savings,’ he said.

Jobs are the ‘magic ingredient’
 
‘So getting the job is the magic ingredient and we are spending billions of dollars in employment programs to encourage people and support people to find work.’

Asked whether the dole would decrease over time as a further incentive for people on it to find work, Shorten replied:
‘Well, some people say the dole is too little as it is. We’re certainly not contemplating reducing it.

I think the challenge for us is to help people who are long-term unemployed — second, third generation unemployed — and there are some postcodes in our big cities and indeed rural Australia, where the jobs just simply aren’t there.
 
We’ve got to make sure we’re educating people, giving them the skills and a lot more individualised support for people. Everyone’s different, so what we’ve got to do is find a way to support each individual. But the aim’s got to be not keeping them on welfare; it’s getting them into a job, then they control their own lives.’
Weekend penalty rates defended
 
Shorten also defended weekend penalty rates, after they were attacked earlier this week by celebrity chef George Calombaris, who claimed waiters got $40 an hour on Sundays — which was killing the restaurant industry.

‘I don’t agree that what you do to help an industry survive is you cut the wages of low paid people,’ he said.
 
‘You know, the argument goes from some of the some in society that oh these are just uni students, but I know uni students.’
 
‘It’s the Sunday which helps justify the rest of their week. At the end of the day, the people who tend to say you should get rid of penalty rates are people whose basic salary is quite high. You know they don’t live on the penalty rates.’

‘So, it’s pretty easy to give away something you don’t need, but just spare a thought for the people who do need it. We don’t want to become like the Americans, at least in the extent that that industry over there relies on tips.’

Shorten said the people who propose cutting penalty rates on the weekend never proposed lifting the Monday to Friday wage of low-paid people.

‘The way to be successful isn’t to cut the wages of people who are low paid,’ he said.
 
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