Welfare to Work

Bureaucracy was arguably invented in Prussia, and German civil servants are justly reknowned for their impartiality. This apparently extends to cutting benefits to jobseekers refusing sex work.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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Robert
2021 years ago

Don’t laugh — last year a middle-aged mother was penalised by Centrelink because she refused to apply for two jobs. One was logging trees in Tasmania, and the other was as a sex worker.

Alan
Alan
2021 years ago

Grrrrrr. The Han dynasty was doing bureaucracy about a millennium before Prussia was ever heard of. The Chinese’ first major application of printing in the Tang dynasty was the production of government forms.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Rob, yeah, I remembered that – but couldn’t find a link so didn’t put it in the post. Explains why Dutton is a bit sensitive on this.

Alan, substitute “Western” bureaucracy.

Robert
2021 years ago

My mistake. It was a middle-aged bloke who got the sex-work offer, while another guy got a Nigerian email scam dressed up as a job offer.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Robert

I notice that the story to which you’ve now posted a link doesn’t actually make your claim that the unemployed person was “penalised by Centrelink because [he] refused to apply”, nor does it mention a person being offered a job logging trees in Tasmania (or being penalised for refusing it). Did you just invent those aspects to make Centrelink look bad? The actual story is quite innocuous, merely reporting a minor bureaucratic stuff-up in a huge computerised job-seeking database; an error of a type that ineivtably occurs from time to time in any large organisation handling huge amounts of information. Moreover, I don’t immediately understand why you think we should regard it as manifestly outrageous for an unemployed person to be offered a job in the Tasmanian logging industry (as long as it was appropriate to their skills and experience). Do you think logging should be equated with prostitution, as an inherently morally dodgy occupation that no-one should be expected to perform? Does your home or its contents contain any timber?

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

One thing that gets up my goat is the government’s condoning of people being paid less than award wages through advertisers on the job network. It was frequently pointed out in the Senate a few years ago that this was illegal, but the then responsible Minister (Vanstone, I think) flatly refused to do anything about it. Not to mention the cruel practice of taking on young jobseekers on a “trial basis”. Apparently half the cafes on some suburban strips don’t pay most of their employees most of the time. The Federal government’s effective exit from enforcing federal awards really is a scandal. I’d like to see the opposition or the Democrats take this up. It’s another reason why the states’ giving up their IR jurisdiction would be a very negative step indeed.

Robert
2021 years ago

Wow, Ken, you get fired up easily.

There were a series of similar cases that received some media attention last year. Initially I conflated the two cases, but when I googled it became apparent that they were different, and I could only find a link for one of them.

The woman who was offered a job logging in Tasmania had no skills or experience even remotely linked to that job.

Given that part of my job is dealing with Centrelink complaints, I can assure you that while some case officers would immediately flag a case like this as dodgy, others would insist on penalising people for refusing the work (it’s at that stage that people contact MPs’ offices).