Locals living in the small town of Gladstone have hit out at government officials claiming that they are paying dole bludgers to move away from the city and live in their peaceful town.
Gladstone is a small town in the state of Queensland that is located 550 km north of Brisbane. It is home to Queensland’s largest multi-commodity shipping port and is known for its access to Heron Island, Wilson Island and Curtis Island.
According to the Daily Mail, there have been rumours for years about the government dumping people on the dole in Gladstone and many blame officials for the town’s problems.
Local state and federal MPs deny the claims, listing the cheaper rent as the reason that people end up in the town.
MP’s also dismissed rumours that people in public housing were moved to Gladstone from the Gold Coast to clean up the beach city in preparation for the Commonwealth Games.
Liberal MP, Flynn Ken O’Dowd told the Gladstone Observer, “This is absolutely false, as I have said many times before.”
“I believe some people are coming to Gladstone for cheap rent. “There is a scheme where the Federal Government will assist with relocation expenses but only if there is permanent employment involved for a minimum of six months.” he added.
If an unemployed person secures a job in a rural town the government does help pay for the move.
The Relocation Assistance Scheme awards $6,000 to unemployed people if they secure a job in a regional area like Gladstone for more than 30 hours a week. They can also score an extra $3,000 if they have dependent children.
A spokesman from the Department of Jobs and Small Business told The Observer that a jobseeker must have accepted a job offer to qualify for the scheme.
“The assistance is arranged through employment services providers, it is not a Centrelink payment,” he said.
“Jobseekers who are eligible for relocation assistance can receive assistance of up to $3000 if relocating to a capital city, $6000 if relocating to a regional area and an extra $3000 if relocating with dependent children.
“This is a demand-driven program… it’s practical assistance to help Australians move into full-time paid work.” he added.
For those that secure employment in the city, they are paid half as much; only $3,000 as compared to $6,000.
According to The Daily Mail, 10 people have moved to Gladstone under the scheme since its inception in 2014.