An Australian politician believes Nintendo and Xbox are to blame for the country’s high number of unemployed youth. Federal Liberal MP Ewen Jones argues that young people should be made to wait six months before receiving unemployment benefits, a proposal put forward by the Abbott government. A parliamentary committee found this week that denying welfare in a case like this is incompatible with Australia’s human rights obligations, but the government persists.
Mr. Jones told journalists that the current welfare situation is simply a case of “There’s your dole, go home eat Cheezels, get on the Xbox,” which is leading to young people isolating themselves, rather than studying or finding full time work.
The planned six-month delay is “perfectly reasonable”, he says, who explains that young people nee to “get in the game”.
If you’re not in the game we’ve got to make it as easy as possible for you to get into the game, by turning up for work for the dole programs so you’re not sitting at home awake from 10 o’clock at night to 6 o’clock in the morning playing bloody Nintendo or whatever people do, or roaming the streets.
What they’ve got to be doing is getting up in the morning going to work, or going to college, getting those qualifications.
Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen criticised Jones’ comments, telling the media that the Coalition is setting out to create an underclass in Australia’s community, and that “demonising people and making cheap pot shots at people is not good public policy”.
Greens MP Adam Bandt also scoffs, suggesting that “parliamentarians who think life on the dole is easy street should give it a go themselves”.
If he seriously thinks that unemployed people in this country are doing it easy he is more out of touch than I thought.
The committee – and the Labor opposition – asks how young people are supposed to sustain themselves for the six month period without social security benefits.
Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews explains that making young people wait half a year before seeing unemployment benefits will encourage them to accept jobs rather than relying on income support, and prevent them from “becoming disengaged – both socially and economically”.
At this stage, the proposed changes are still before parliament, with Labor, the Greens and the Palmer United Party all opposing the policy.