Labor says Coalition cuts to Services Australia caused welfare inaccuracies

By Anna Macdonald

June 16, 2022

Amanda Rishworth
Minister for social services Amanda Rishworth. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

The recently elected Labor government has accused the former Coalition government of mismanaging the accuracy of welfare payments, as it says the accuracy of JobSeeker payments decreased from 93% to 83% in two years.

Minister for government services Bill Shorten specifically named the Coalition’s job cuts to Services Australia as a leading cause of the inaccuracies.

“It has also meant that the agency has been unable to undertake compliance activities, meaning welfare debts have remained unchecked for years.

“We have a responsibility to take steps to recover debts owing and therefore efforts to recover existing debts will need to recommence. Importantly, it is possible for people with debts owing to enter into payment arrangements with Services Australia,” Shorten said. 

Minister for social services Amanda Rishworth said the Coalition’s failure to invest in welfare meant 17% of Jobseeker payments were incorrect.

“Debts owed by welfare recipients have drastically increased, with some sitting in the system for over three years, so some people aren’t even aware that they’ve received too much money from Services Australia.

“While the former Government paused debt recovery and compliance activity due to COVID lockdowns and natural disasters, they should have been taking steps to make sure people were getting the right amount of money in the first place,” Rishworth said.

The criticism of the past government comes as mutual obligation requirements have changed. From 4 July 2022, after the end of the financial new year, Workforce Australia is introducing a Points Based Activation System (PBAS).

In the new system, people looking to get their JobSeeker payment need to hit a certain amount of points monthly, from applying for a job (5 points) and doing paid work (5 points for every 5 hours), up to relocating for a job (100 points). 

The Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union has criticised the move, calling it ‘The Hunger Games crossed with Black Mirror’ in a statement posted last month. 

“We also do not trust the government one bit to make automated decisions with regard to welfare recipients,” the statement reads


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