Federal government releases figures on Centrelink payments

CONTEXT: Segment on 'dole bludgers' slammed, called into question

QUEENSLANDERS are the nation's worst dole abusers, with new figures showing the state is home to the most recipients having their payments repeatedly suspended.

More than 16,000 Queensland Newstart recipients had their payments suspended at least 10 times in the 2018-19 financial year, the highest number of any state.

The shocking figures reveal nearly 80 per cent of dole recipients around the country had their payments suspended at least once in the past year for failing to meet their mutual obligation requirements.

There were 744,884 jobactive participants during the year but the Department was forced to suspended payments more than 2.3 million times at an average of 4.1 suspensions per participant.

Nearly 62,000 job seekers recorded 10 or more suspensions with one wracking up 52 suspensions in the 12-month period.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the Government's focus was on getting people off the dole and into work, and it took the mutual obligation of welfare recipients very seriously.

"When participants have their payments suspended up to 52 times in less than a year, they are not living up to what the taxpayer expects," she said.

"The welfare system should not be thrown in the face of the Australian taxpayers who fund it by those who abuse it."

More than 15,000 dole recipients have received a financial penalty or been kicked off the program due to repeatedly failing to meet their requirements.

Recipients receive demerits for failing to meet a range of obligations such as creating a job plan, doing a job search, attending a job interview or acting on a job referral.

After five demerits they must attend an interview or their payments are suspended.

Payments are immediately resumed with back pay once they fulfil their obligations again.

The Government says the figures show the system is generally working with the overwhelming majority re-engaging with the program after having their payments suspended.

Ms Cash said every new job or training course enrolled in was a major milestone for each participant.