Canberra: The Australian government is tired of having unemployed people say they cannot take a job because it may interfere with their golf plans or dreams of becoming an actor.
The government said it plans to tighten its rules on who qualifies for unemployment benefits to encourage a growing number of jobless — including some with creative excuses to stay off the job — to go to work.
"Australia's income support system is there as a safety net for people who genuinely cannot find a job — not as an option for those who simply refuse to work," Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said in a statement Tuesday.
The penalty for refusing a job offer without a good excuse is eight weeks without a welfare cheque, but three out of four unemployed Australians who refused jobs last year managed to keep their cheque. Australia's jobless rate is six percent.
The Employment Department on Tuesday released a sample of reasons job hunters have given for remaining unemployed.
The government wants to close a loophole that allows the unemployed to refuse jobs while continuing to collect a welfare cheques, but the Senate is resisting the changes.
The opposition argues that the government already has the discretion to withhold welfare checks from people who don't have reasonable excuses for refusing to work.
The opposition says the government's proposed legislation would remove any discretion in cases where withholding welfare checks could lead to a jobless person becoming homeless or suffering other harm.