Transcript: The Today Show interview with Karl Stefanovic

15 September 2016

The Hon Alan Tudge MP

Minister for Human Services
Topics: 
Youth unemployment/welfare, Superannuation
E&OE

KARL STEFANOVIC:        
Okay. Take a look at the front page of the Sydney Telegraph this morning. Have you ever heard of a NEET? Well, you are about to. 580,000 young Australians are classified as NEETs. It means Not in Employment, Education, or Training. Two NEETs in New South Wales are making headlines this morning after saying this.

[Excerpt]

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:             
I don't want to work to die. I'd rather not work, be a bum, spend time with my family and friends.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:             
Live life to the fullest. If you've got a job, good on you. If you don't …

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:             
It's harder to find a job. They want the younger ones they can pay five bucks an hour.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:             
Yeah, five bucks an hour I'm on at Maccas.

[End of excerpt]

KARL STEFANOVIC:        
You get the drift, don't you? Well, Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge joins me now. Alan, good morning to you.

ALAN TUDGE:   
Good morning, Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC:        
What is your reaction?

ALAN TUDGE:   
Clearly what we've seen and heard this morning is completely unacceptable and against community expectations. Now if people don't want to work, then they can't be expected to receive Centrelink benefits if they are able-bodied and capable of working, and we have very clear expectations upon such people: that you must look for a job, and you must accept a job if one is available. I don't know what the situation is with these two women, but clearly it's beyond community expectations.

KARL STEFANOVIC:        
It riles people, doesn't it? NEET's basically just another term for a dole bludger.

ALAN TUDGE:   
Yeah, it absolutely- absolutely. Now, in relation to the broader category, it's - you've got two categories, really. Most young people who can't find work is because they're genuinely looking for it, they want a job but can't find one, but unfortunately there is a category that simply don't want to work, and that's why we have a strict compliance regime. If people aren't looking for work, if they don't take one that is available, then they will have their payments cut.

KARL STEFANOVIC:        
Okay. 580,000. That seems like an awful lot of people. How many of those are in that category?

ALAN TUDGE:   
So it is a large number, and the majority of those - about two-thirds - are in the category that do want to work, and of course, our main objective as a Government is to grow the economy and create more opportunities for those people so they can get a job. For the other group, we're constantly looking at measures to encourage those people to take work where it is available, because it's in their interests as much as anyone else's.

KARL STEFANOVIC:        
So what you're saying is we have 200,000 young kids like that who just don't want to work. They're happy to sit on the dole.

ALAN TUDGE:   
Well, unfortunately there are still too many people who don't want to take up a job when one is available.

KARL STEFANOVIC:        
So why not get them out working for the dole?

ALAN TUDGE:   
Well, we do have that in place, and after 12 months of being on unemployment benefits, then they do have to do Work for the Dole. That's part of our policy, and every single thing that we have in our program is geared towards people going into work when a job is available, because it's in their interests just as much as it is in the community's interest.

KARL STEFANOVIC:        
Why wait 12 months? Get them out there working now.

ALAN TUDGE:   
Well, that's what our policy is, Karl, and we want to give people the opportunity to find work if it's available. If it's not available, then that's fine, then they will have to do Work for the Dole after 12 months.

KARL STEFANOVIC:        
There are plenty of kids out there who are legitimately trying to find work, right?

ALAN TUDGE:   
There are, and my message to them, of course, is to take any job which is available, because even if it's not the perfect job in the first instance, if you get one good job under your belt, you'll be in a better position to take the perfect job subsequently.

KARL STEFANOVIC:        
Exactly. Let's move on. There's a joint party room meeting this morning. Does Malcolm have what it takes to get the controversial parts of the superannuation reforms signed off, do you believe?

ALAN TUDGE:   
Well we do have a party room meeting this morning and as you know with our super reforms we're trying to make the system more sustainable, largely by addressing some of the concessions at the very high end and putting a lot of that money down to the bottom end. Now, any …

KARL STEFANOVIC:        
[Interrupts] Will you get it signed off?

ALAN TUDGE:   
Any changes of course will go through the party room, the normal process. I'm confident that whatever the Cabinet does take to the party room will go through.

KARL STEFANOVIC:        
Come on, Alan. This is one of the first times you've been on the show. You've got to give us something.

ALAN TUDGE:   
[Laughs].

KARL STEFANOVIC:        
Well, what do you think? There's a need to reign in the super tax concessions for the rich as well. What's your message to those Liberal conservatives who are unhappy about all this?

ALAN TUDGE:   
Well, we took this package to the election. I know that there are elements which are controversial, but we have a mandate for this now. We've been having further discussion led by the Treasurer in relation to some of the more contentious elements, and any changes will go through the proper processes.

KARL STEFANOVIC:        
Alright. Good to talk to you today.

ALAN TUDGE:   
[Talks over] Thanks so much, Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC:        
Let's work together on this. Let's try and get some of these kids out if they're struggling to find work, let's try and work together on that and try and get them a job.

ALAN TUDGE:   
[Talks over] Would love to.

KARL STEFANOVIC:        
Good on you. Thank you Alan. Appreciate it.

[ENDS]