By Luke Voogt
Two local MPs have clashed over Labor “suggestions” it could scrap the controversial Work for the Dole program.
Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson called on Corio counterpart Richard Marles to back the program, which had “benefited” 1572 people in both their electorates combined.
Ms Henderson’s call followed shadow employment services minister Ed Husic’s recent refusal to guarantee the program after labelling it a failure.
“Labor’s failure to commit to work for the dole is frankly not good enough,” Ms Henderson said.
“This is also a very poor reflection on Corio MP Richard Marles.”
Since the 2016 federal election 382 and 1145 residents of the region’s Corangamite and Corio electorates respectively have participated in Work for the Dole.
“The best form of welfare is a job,” Ms Henderson said.
“Unlike the Labor party, the coalition is committed to getting people off welfare and into work.”
About 30 per cent of jobseekers who completed Work for the Dole found employment in three months, according to Federal Government statistics.
“Work for the Dole ensures taxpayers are not subsidising a lifetime of welfare but are instead preparing people to get, and stay in, a job,” Ms Henderson said.
“Work for the Dole is a win-win program that gives participants a chance to gain valuable skills, experience and employment contacts.”
But Mr Marles hit back, lambasting Ms Henderson for her government’s axing of Labor’s Geelong industry fund.
“You know what people in Corio need more than Work for the Dole? Jobs – real jobs,” the Labor MP said.
The previous Labor government’s $29.5 million Geelong Regional Industry and Investment Fund (GRIIF) created 890 full time jobs in Geelong, Mr Marles said.
“Work for the dole numbers go up when real jobs fall.
“That’s exactly what’s happened because the Liberals axed GRIIF.
“Sarah should be ashamed of herself.“