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Social services minister hits back at ‘irresponsible’ criticism of JobSeeker changes

The Morrison government is defending cuts to the JobSeeker scheme in the wake of criticism from welfare advocates.

The JobSeeker payment will more than half after September 25, however recipients will be permitted to earn up to $300 a week without having their payment cut back.

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston told Jim Wilson the change will be a “strong market incentive” for unemployed Australians.

“We’re really hopeful that by providing that additional incentive for people to re-engage with the workforce, they will have the confidence to go out there and start looking for work, even if it is only part-time.”

The reduction has received scathing criticism from charities and welfare advocates who claim it will push many Australians below the poverty line.

Ms Ruston refuted the accusation, claiming the payment would remain “well in excess” of what advocates were campaigning for prior to the pandemic.

The Australian economy remains “extraordinarily fragile”, she said.

“We don’t know what the new normal is going to look like on the other side of this.

“We want to make sure that we continue to react to the market conditions that are before us … [and] make sure that we have the flexibility to make changes into the future.

“I think making crystal ball declarations and predictions 12 months into the future would be irresponsible of the government.”

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