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‘Unfair’ new JobSeeker test sees Aussies wait 13 weeks for help

Lucy Dean
·4-min read
Pictured: Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Australian pedestrians on sunset road. Images: Getty
Josh Frydenberg has announced changes to JobSeeker eligibility, which has been blasted as mean spirited. Images: Getty

Australians with more than $5,500 in savings could be forced to wait up to 13 weeks before receiving JobSeeker payments, under the waiting period set to be reinstated from Friday.

The liquid assets test applies to new JobSeeker applicants, and means single people with no dependents will need to wait at least one week before accessing the payment if they have between $5,500 and $5,999.

And for single Australians with $11,500 or more, they will need to wait as long as 13 weeks.

Announcing the changes in July, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the test is about ensuring JobSeeker is “appropriately targeted”.

How long will I need to wait to receive JobSeeker?

Number of weeks you’ll need to wait under the Liquid Assets Waiting Period

If you have a partner or you’re single – with dependants and your liquid assets are

If you’re single with no dependants and your liquid assets are


$0 to $10,999

$0 to $5,499


$11,000 to $11,999

$5,500 to $5,999


$12,000 to $12,999

$6,000 to $6,499


$13,000 to $13,999

$6,500 to $6,999


$14,000 to $14,999

$7,000 to $7,499


$15,000 to $15,999

$7,500 to $7,999


$16,000 to $16,999

$8,000 to $8,499


$17,000 to $17,999

$8,500 to $8,999


$18,000 to $18,999

$9,000 to $9,499


$19,000 to $19,999

$9,500 to $9,999


$20,000 to $20,999

$10,000 to $10,499


$21,000 to $21,999

$10,500 to $10,999


$22,000 to $22,999

$11,000 to $11,499


$23,000 or more

$11,500 or more

Shadow social services minister Linda Burney criticised the decision to reinstate the waiting period, noting that liquid assets can include a redundancy that is owed but not yet paid, loans given to family members, savings and superannuation that has been withdrawn early.

"The government wants to force struggling Australians to eat through their savings before they can access income support," Burney told AAP on Wednesday.

"Now is not the time to resume the liquid assets waiting period."

Greens senator Rachel Siewert also described the decision to bring back the test as “mean spirited and unfair”, given Australia is in its first recession in 30 years.

She said the waiting period will create big problems for the next group of newly unemployed Australians, especially as the JobKeeper wage subsidy reduces in size, forcing workers out of businesses.

“If you make people spend all of their hard-earned savings before receiving income support then they are left in a precarious position during the rest of this pandemic,” Siewert said in a Pro Bono editorial.

“For many people the only way they can survive on JobSeeker is by supplementing that income with what little savings they have. This could be the difference between hanging on with the mortgage until they find more work – or losing the family home. Taking that safety net away is not only unfair, but also irresponsible and it will have a chilling effect on the wider economy.”

The reintroduced waiting period coincides with the reintroduction of the broader assets test, which will see as many as 30,000 Australians face reduced or completely cut unemployment benefits.

Simultaneously, the size of the JobSeeker Coronavirus Supplement will be cut by $300 a fortnight to $250, meaning recipients will receive $815.70 per fortnight.

Recipients will also be required to carry out mutual obligations requirements, including applying for and accepting jobs.

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