Tony Abbott’s latest move, floating the idea that people under 30 should be denied access to the dole, is clear evidence of why he should never be Prime Minister. For that matter, it’s an illustration of the weaknesses that made him a second-rate (at best) minister under Howard.
The political calculation is obvious, although the arithmetic looks dubious to me. The idea is to appeal to the anti-youth prejudices of the older voters who form the core of Liberal party support. But older voters are hard to shift in general, and the kind of people who would like this proposal are mostly rusted-on Liberals, though they might once have been One Nation types. By contrast, Abbott’s overt appeal to bigotry against the young will surely cost the Libs votes among this group at a time when their attitudes are still being formed
Coming to the policy merits, Abbott’s supporting “reasoning” if such a term can be justified is that this measure will encourage people to move to “areas where there are skills shortages, such as in the Western Australian mining sector.” We are talking here about the age group where most people start forming long-term relationships and having children (median age for first child is 29, and appears to be declining at the moment). And, even if they are temporarily unemployed, most people in this age group have made career choices that are unlikely to be consistent with a flit to WA to work in the mines. And, even with relatively strong conditions, I doubt that the demand for labor in the mines extends say, to a cry for hairdressers, or bartenders or shop assistants, to pick a few occupations at random.
This idea seems too silly even to come from a focus group. In fact, it seems about on a par with the ideas I come up with after a triathlon and a few glasses of muscle relaxant. I usually manage to refrain from communicating these marvellous ideas on the blog, let alone announcing them to the public at large.
fn1. ABS used to publish data on unemployment by usual occupation, but they seem to have stopped.
(H/T Nancy Wallace).
Update: More from Kim at LP