Centrelink shake-up to be tweaked but not scrapped, Tony Burke confirms

An impending change to Centrelink described as “the Hunger Games crossed with Black Mirror” is set to be tweaked, the Employment Minister has confirmed.

Tony Burke flagged the plans to adjust the controversial scheme set to come into effect next month, but he won’t scrap the program completely.

From July, the mutual obligations scheme that requires people receiving JobSeeker to apply for 20 jobs a month will be replaced with the points-based activation system (PBAS).

To keep receiving payments, welfare recipients must receive 100 points and do a minimum of five job searches each month.

Camera IconThe changes come into effect from July. NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw Credit: News Corp Australia

There is a list of more than 30 tasks and activities that each carry their own individual points value.

Advocates have criticized the program for being poorly communicated. Earlier this month, the Australian Unemployed Workers Union called the program inhumane.

On Sunday, Mr Burke said it was too late to scrap the Morrison-government-designed scheme, insisting the concept was “right” but it needed tweaks.

Contracts for the Workforce Australia scheme were finalized prior to the previous government entering caretaker mode, Mr Burke said.

Speaking on Friday, the minister said he had been locked in meetings with the department and a brief had arrived at his home overnight that he was working through.

Camera IconTony Burke says it’s too late to change the program. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

“I’m very close to being able to make a decision,” Mr Burke told ABC RN.

He flagged that full-time study or training would be sufficient to meet 100 points under his changes.

“If you’re in a situation where you’re doing a full-time course, then the full-time course becomes your priority,” he said.

“The moment that’s done, then you’re back to making sure that you’re in the job market.”

Previously, education and training only amounted to 20 points per week for full-time students and 15 points per week for part-time students.

Individuals who had accrued penalties under the old system will start from a blank slate from July.

Additionally, people who would prefer to remain on the current system and not switch over to the new points-based system will be able to do so.


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