No doubt there is some truth in Alan Tudge’s claim (The Australian, 18/1) that for some, unemployment is a matter of “outlook and personal choice”. But his focus on this marginal phenomenon panders to the prejudice that this entirely explains unemployment and the attendant poverty.
The simple fact is there are more jobseekers than jobs. Even if every “dole bludger” could be drafted into vacant jobs, many would still be unemployed. Further, the obligations that must already be met to receive benefits are similar to what Tudge proposes, with the fortunate exception that they do not yet include forceful relocation away from family and community.
The current full dole plus rent assistance is substantially less than the average metropolitan rent, inevitably leading to debt and despair. It is pointless cruelty to maintain this situation as an “incentive” – actually a goad – to which no response is possible.