The budget sets aside $2.5 million to establish the Employer Reporting Line, dubbed ‘Dobseeker’ by critics. The hotline allows employers to dob in jobseekers who reject employment offers or demonstrate ‘unsuitable behaviour’ at a job interview.
Like Robodebt, Dobseeker is symptomatic of the Coalition government’s mistrust and scapegoating of the unemployed – a tool for demonising the vulnerable.
There is little evidence to justify the establishment of such a punitive measure. In fact, of the 1.1 million job seekers in the first half of last year, just 114 were penalised for ‘work refusal failures’. The Dobseeker hotline is far more likely to exacerbate exploitation than it is to expose ‘bludgers’. The ACTU has warned it would give employers huge power to ‘coerce vulnerable people into jobs under threat of being cut off from payments’, while the Greens warned the hotline was ‘wide open for abuse’.
There are so many causes worthy of government spending in this year’s budget. Demonising the unemployed is not one of them.