Tightening the Screws on the Unemployed

The following are possible options for early implementation, which the Howard Govt is considering for tightening the activity test for Job Search/New Start Allowance:

Require full employer contact details on SU19; Incorporate telephone check with employers in 10% intensive review; Stricter requirement on employer contact certificates - at grant, on 12 week and 9 month review; targeted to high risk groups and in more buoyant labour markets, on return to payment following activity test breach, more use by CSE/Case Managers.

Clearer compliance focus for 3 and 9 month reviews with focus on job search; Better targetting of review activities (10%,3/12 and 9/12) to groups at risk of activity test breach; Publicity/Advices to encourage voluntary compliance - clearer advice of obligations at grant including interviews and handout, reminder messages on SU19's including advice that work efforts may be verified, use of Update including special activity test edition, Ministerial press release including case studies.

Use of Area staff to monitor (audit) activity test enforcement; Rewrite of DSS and DEET on job employment referrals rather than LMPs. Referrals could be targeted at particular groups and individuals whose job search bona fides in doubt; Employer consultation to enlist support for enforcement measures and encourage listing jobs with CES; Employer Hotline; Publish Figures on Activity Test Breaches.

Legislative / System Changes To Support Activity Test Tightening

Stricter (more confined) definition of suitable work; Tight definition of "sufficient reason" for declining job offer or voluntary unemployment; Alter penalties for administrative breaches (rate reduction no non payment); Remove payment pending review and/or appeal provision; Widen acceptable commuting time; Improve activity test information held on system - activity test history facility, flag for high risk cases; better activity type coding.

An End To Govt. Departments?

A long term plan of the public service mandarins and the corporate bosses is the abolition of govt. departments. In the future instead of being known as employees of different Commonwealth Depts, you will be a commonwealth service officer. Steps are already being made in this direction with the establishment of "retirement" centres. At such centres, there are CES, DSS and Tax units under the command of the local DSS regional manager. What are the ramifications of this "big picture". Certainly it would be in line with the management philosophy of "lean management" developed to cope with the current crisis of capitalist profitablity via cutting govt. expenditure, to reduce taxes on business. As such a "totalitarian" govt. structure would enable the elimination of whole layers of the bureaucracy and associated sections and their officers particularly personnel ,policy, etc. Whilst such an integrated setup would enable greater monitoring of welfare receiptants and citizens generally, also assisting cost cutting.