Burke headed to Washington, but not before addressing unemployment benefits concerns

By Tom Ravlic

July 11, 2022

Tony Burke
Australian Employment Minister Tony Burke. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Employment and workplace relations minister Tony Burke is the latest minister to be leaving on a jet plane out of Australia. He will be attending the 30th Australian-American Leadership Dialogue, in Washington.

Burke will take part in the dialogue, which is held alternately in the US and Australia each year, to talk about issues relevant to his workplace relations portfolio.

The dialogue is attended by high-profile figures in politics, media and business from both Australia and the US as a way of sharing insights and perspectives.

Burke said in a statement issued early on Monday that he is also representing the Australian parliament as the leader of the house.

He will also be engaged in a range of meetings with stakeholders and officials in the US that will include meetings related to the AUKUS alliance.

Burke’s trip coincides with Anthony Albanese’s journey to Fiji to attend the Pacific Islands Forum.

Albanese’s overseas trip has not stopped Burke from clarifying a range of issues people on unemployment benefits have been having with Workforce Australia – the system that had replaced Job Active.

An eight-tweet thread from Burke starts with the minister thanking people for their feedback.

“First of all, thanks to those who have been sharing different challenges and fears of dealing with the new system Workforce Australia,” Burke said.

“I haven’t been tweeting much, but I’ve been reading the comments. I thought it would help if I offered some specific information in response.”

He said claims people would be suspended during the first month while navigating the new system were wrong and that there would be no demerit points given this or next month if a person on benefits is in an area that has been deemed flood-impacted.

Burke said all participants have been given a fresh start on the new system and anybody who was about to receive penalties would find that situation has changed.

A points system is used to record people’s activity. Burke said people who find the new system confusing could still do 20 applications a month as they previously did to meet the points system.

There are other options, Burke said, for people to meet their job-seeking and work-readiness requirements.

“I also changed the points system from the previous government settings to give more credit for things like getting a driver’s licence, studying to be job ready and drug and alcohol counselling,” Burke said.


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