Dubbo is one of the worst offending cities in Australia for “dole bludgers”, ranking eighth on a federal government list of people who fail to attend job interviews, miss appointments and turn down employment offers.
The regional city also comes in as the second worst in the state, with Orange not far behind at number four in NSW and 12th nationally.
In Dubbo there were 245 people with five failures to attend meetings and interviews next to their name, the eighth-worst result overall and second-worst in NSW. Caboolture in Queensland topped the list with 387 failures, while Blacktown was the second worst with 333.
With as many as 100,000 Australians failing to comply with regulations for their Centrelink payments, and many of those going unpunished, the government is cracking down.
Parkes MP Mark Coulton said he wasn’t completely surprised to see Dubbo make the list but he wasn’t happy about it.
“There are a lot of people who go there looking for work and other things and it has a large Centrelink office. So it wouldn't surprise me that Dubbo is on that list,” he said.
“What does concern me is that at a time where employers in the Central West are coming to me saying they can't find suitable staff, that we have a large number of able-bodied people who are choosing to be non-compliant, not fulfilling their obligations for job interviews, not fulfilling their obligations to undertake some form of training and basically thumbing their nose at the system, when they really should be out there looking for work.”
State Member for Dubbo Troy Grant said he was also disappointed the city had featured prominently, and called on welfare offenders to do the right thing.
“We have plenty of work on offer in Dubbo and right across our electorate and the employers out there are screaming out for a workforce,” Mr Grant said.
“So to find people who are dodging the system and avoiding the opportunity to attend interviews for jobs to take up those opportunities is extremely disappointing.”
“These people are hurting their fellow man in the community and I call on them to get their act together, stop being a bludger and get to work.”
In May the government, through Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash and Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge, announced reforms that would ensure stricter compliance.
Mr Coulton said it was like point system where repeated non-compliance by a welfare recipient resulted in a loss of benefits.
“You lose points for non-compliance and if that becomes a pattern, ultimately you lose your ability to obtain those welfare benefits,” Mr Coulton said.
“Now hopefully it doesn't come to that.
“The Australian people are very, very happy to support people when they're doing it tough, but they are not prepared to support people that choose to thumb their nose at the system and not look for work and take opportunities that are coming their way.”