Question Time – unemployment
Mr PITT (Hinkler) (15:05): My question is to the Assistant Minister for Employment. Will the minister update the House on the Relocation Assistance to Take Up a Job program? How is this program helping to change the lives of long-term unemployed Australians?
Mr Pyne: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. The minister could not possibly have heard the question given the din coming from the opposition. I would ask him to repeat the question.
The SPEAKER: I absolutely agree. I could not hear it, either.
Opposition members interjecting—
The SPEAKER: I know it is Thursday. I know some people like an early mark to get an early plane, and I am only too willing to assist.
Mr Champion: Not me!
The SPEAKER: Oh, to the contrary! The member for Wakefield is the champion, and if he really wishes to add to his title today, I am happy to oblige. Then his colleagues might remain silent to give him support in remaining in the chamber. The member for Hinkler has the call.
Mr PITT (Hinkler) (15:06): My question is to the Assistant Minister for Employment. Will the minister update the House on the Relocation Assistance to Take Up a Job program? How is this program helping to change the lives of long-term unemployed Australians?
Mr HARTSUYKER (Cowper—Deputy Leader of the House and Assistant Minister for Employment) (15:06): I thank the member for his question, and let me say that the member for Hinkler is a member who understands the importance of work and what it can do for individuals, and the importance of creating opportunities for our job seekers. The cost of moving can be a barrier for many job seekers in taking up a job in a distant location, especially when that job seeker has been unemployed for an extended period of time. That is why the government introduced the relocation assistance program to help job seekers who have been unemployed for 12 months or longer to move to where a job will be. It is a very important program. Under this program, job seekers can receive up to $6,000 to move to a regional area, up to $3,000 to move to a metropolitan area and for those with a family there is up to an additional $3,000 available to assist with the cost of moving.
I am pleased to report to the House that progress on the program is good with some 145 people taking up the opportunity to move to a job opportunity through the assistance of this program. It is particularly pleasing to see that many of the people who are taking up the program, some 44 per cent, have been unemployed for two years or longer. I think that all members in this House would agree that securing a job after two years of unemployment has the ability to be a life-changing opportunity.
I can further inform the House of the success of a constituent of the member for Hinkler who moved, with the assistance of this program, to take up a job after being on unemployment benefits since 2006. They were able to move into a job with all the opportunities that a job can bring with the assistance of this program.
Some 69 per cent of job opportunities that people have been able to take up through this program have been in regional areas and they have been in a diverse range of industries such as forestry, fishing, manufacturing, food services and accommodation services. So there is a range of opportunities that people have taken up through the assistance of this program.
The relocation assistance program is an example of this government delivering on our election commitments, delivering on our commitment to create jobs and opportunities, delivering on our commitment to ensure that as many Australians as possible have the opportunity to get into work and receive the benefits that work can bring. It is a benefit to job seekers, it is of benefit to our broader community and the program is going well so far.
Mr Abbott: I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.