Christensen reveals more on plan to cut dole payments
MEMBER for Dawson George Christensen has elaborated on his plan to cut dole payments after six months after the controversial pitch landed him in the national media spotlight.
It comes after Mr Christensen ran an election campaign using the slogan 'George fights for local jobs', which focused on job creation to reduce unemployment.
Mr Christensen said his plan included "a range of exemptions that allow people to continue receiving benefits".
"For instance, if they've run into health troubles, if they have a family - you certainly wouldn't want to see children starve as a result of their parents inaction - or if someone simply decided to upskill themselves or go to training they would transition from unemployment benefits into a different set of benefits targeted for training, so they wouldn't lose that payment," he said.
"I think if it was well thought through with a range of exemptions catered for, to avoid unintended consequences, you could have a policy which only weeded out those who simply refuse to get a job.
"...people who just choose to not take jobs on offer, not really look, not do anything to upskill themselves when there's free training, perhaps the only motivation is having no income to rely on at all?"
Mr Christensen said Bowen farmers had "bombarded" him about changes to the backpacker tax, which they feared would result in a lack of farmhands during crucial harvesting periods.
"But at the same time Bowen has a 15% unemployment rate...why is it that the farmers need foreign labour to actually pick their fruit when the unemployment rate is 15%?" he said.
"Anyone who is on Newstart genuinely looking for work, who would take any job that comes up, would not be impacted by these changes.
"They (the media) didn't really ask me about the nuances of this policy...it's just the headline of 'limit the dole to six months' which shocks people, but (it can work) if you put in a range of exemptions which cover people in extraordinary circumstances, or possibly geographic exemptions.
"Most people on the dole don't want to be on the dole, that's for sure."
Mr Christensen will submit the plan to the Nationals party room in a bid to avoid some changes looming as part of the Turnbull Government's $6 billion superannuation reforms
"The issue is we spend more as a government than we can afford and no household can live like that. No taxpayer can live like that ad infinitum," he said.
"There's two ways of fixing that: We can put up taxes, which I didn't come into parliament to do quite frankly, or we can cut expenditure."
But as Mackay job recruiter Sally Howard hovered over about 200 resumes stacked 20cm high on her desk, she said Mr Christensen's plan had dangerous consequences.
She believed it would cause an increase in mental health problems, homelessness, poverty and perhaps crime.
"I understand there are people who rort the system, but there's so many people in Mackay who are not rorting the system," she said.
"There's so many people in Mackay unemployed only because of this economic downturn and chopping their dole payment off would be catastrophic.
"I can't tell you the amount of people I know who lost their jobs through redundancy, or no fault of their own, who lost their house or their marriage.
"George has no idea. He has no idea. I'm sitting in my office looking at this huge pile of resumes probably 20 centimetres high.
"I'm recruiting for a truck driver position today and as I sit here I'm watching my inbox just filling up, one after the other, just for one job."
Ms Howard believed if Mr Christensen "campaigned to knock dole payments on the head after six months" he probably would not have retained his seat at the election.
"Mackay's already in a bad place, we don't need things to get any worse."