Out of work Aussies who refuse to take jobs on farms will have their Centrelink payments cut as part of a new government scheme to help struggling farmers as they get ready for the upcoming harvest season.
Dole bludgers who turn down harvesting work will see their welfare benefits slashed, with the worst offenders set to lose their money for up to four weeks, according to reports in the Daily Telegraph.
The push is designed to prevent perfectly good fruit and vegetables from being left to rot on vines, particularly for those farmers who have been doing it tough due to the recent drought.
And, if the initiative fails to attract enough workers, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is also considering changing the terms of working holiday visas to push overseas visitors onto farms as well.
“Where we cannot find Australians to do the work, we cannot allow the fruit to rot,” Morrison told the Daily Telegraph. “We will back our farmers and make arrangements through our Pacific Island worker and migration program to get the job done.
“This is about doing everything we can to ensure Australian jobs are being filled by Australians.”
Morrison, who took over the top job less than two months ago, added: “Our government has heard from farmers across the country about how tough it is right now to find workers, particularly at the height of harvest season for some crops.
“We want to highlight exactly where the jobs are and make sure jobseekers know where to be looking. While we’re tackling the labour shortage this also ensures jobseekers on taxpayer support have no excuse to refuse opportunities.”
The prime minister has also requested that farmers register their vacant positions, along with how much they pay, so that the National Harvest Labour Information Service can match them with workers.
Many people support Morrison’s plan and took to social media to share their views. One person tweeted: “Yep, all of these ‘dole bludgers’ living it up on less than $40 a day. There’s always been rules about refusing reasonable job offers – just more dog whistling.”
However others were concerned that the changes may discriminate against those who have genuine reasons for being unable to work, with one such person saying: “And if they have the means to get to these places…. some people on the dole are not bludgers maybe those people need to put themselves in someone else’s shoes that are struggling genuinely.”
While others suggested there may not actually be enough vacant jobs to fill. One said: “Good in theory but there are no jobs. There is a drought. No crops. No transport. No accom. It’s all mechanical anyway.”
Another tweeted: “There’s generally enough ppl in these regional centres to fill these jobs, but it is a hard job, so not many local want to do it.”