‘Get a job!’: Fordham rips into ‘dole bludgers’

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2GB host Ben Fordham has unloaded on “dole bludgers” after this week’s increases to welfare payments in the federal budget, angrily telling one unemployed Melburnian to “get a job”.

Speaking to The Australian earlier this week, graphic designer Jez Heywood, 47, said he was “angry” about the $20-a-week increase to Jobseeker.

Mr Heywood, who has been unemployed since 2017 and has limited job options due to health conditions, told the newspaper the extra $2.85 a day was so small as to make no difference to the “absolutely atrocious” rate of $693.10 a fortnight.

“I’m angry, annoyed — this is nothing, absolutely nothing,” Mr Heywood told The Australian.

“The government commissioned a study that said significant increases were needed and they’ve ignored it.”

The government had been under pressure to increase the Jobseeker payment from its current rate of $49.50 a day to around $1000 a fortnight, or about $68 a day — 90 per cent of the Age Pension — as recommended by the Department of Social Services’ Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee.

Labor said the $24 billion cost to the budget was something it couldn’t afford, but agreed to a much smaller across-the-board increase.

“I have to go without pretty much any form of entertainment — in a previous life, I was a music journalist and bought a lot of music — I can’t do that anymore, I can’t buy books anymore,” Mr Heywood said.

“You have to weigh up every financial decision you make. There is no room for error. There’s no room for unexpected bills. If I were to get a speeding ticket, it would ruin me.”

Jez Heywood at his home in Carrum Downs. Picture: Aaron Francis/The AustralianJez Heywood at his home in Carrum Downs. Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian

He said the payment should be at least $88 a day to keep recipients above the poverty line.

Speaking on his Sydney talkback show on Friday, Fordham said the budget included little help for working people struggling with rising cost of living.

“When it comes to helping these people they barely get a crumb,” he said.

“All of the help went to people already getting help. People are angry. They want to support people who are unable to work or people between jobs, but they can’t cop the never-ending handouts for people who choose to sit at home, and we know that there are some of them, more than some.”

Fordham took aim at Mr Heywood’s comments to The Australian.

“He hasn’t had a job in six years, and Jez says he’s ‘unimpressed’ with the government’s Jobseeker increase, he wants more,” he said.

“Jez, why don’t you ‘weigh up’ getting a job — any job? Because there are half a million of them available right now.”

Responding to earlier criticism on Twitter, Mr Heywood wrote, “Why did no one tell me there was another thread of blue ticks getting angry at me? Oh no, I’ve lost the racists, the anti-vaxxers and the terfs! Whatever will I do?”

Meanwhile, a Sunshine Coast couple have sparked outrage after appearing on the ABC to complain about struggling on Centrelink for five years.

Mark Goodrick and Jennifer Searson appeared on 730 this week. Picture: ABCMark Goodrick and Jennifer Searson appeared on 730 this week. Picture: ABC

Mark Goodrick and his wife Jennifer Searson told the ABC’s 730 on Monday about their struggles to stay afloat while receiving Jobseeker and a carer’s payment for their 15-year-old daughter who has autism.

But the segment sparked a flood of angry comments from viewers, who took issue with the fact that they appeared to be living reasonably well at taxpayers’ expense as they have two cars, pay for private school for their daughter and spend about $350 a week on groceries.

“I saw this and I thought this family seem to be doing OK actually. Is this what welfare looks like?” one Twitter user commented.

“Irresponsible reporting. Terrible example of strugglers. Two cars, $350 per week for food, private school. Nah not buying that,” another said.

“These people are not doing it nearly as tough as many people I know. Sure, they’re battlers, but many single parent families exist, so in times of financial challenge such as this, the father could opt for the temporary sacrifice of full time work with a long commute,” a third said.

Mr Goodrick is a qualified chef but admitted he preferred working casually in order to receive Centrelink, while Ms Searson is a lab technician who is certified in education support and business administration.

He earns about $1300 a fortnight working at a service station but gets an additional $250 from Centrelink.

Ms Searson is eligible for the maximum of $971.50 a fortnight as a carer.

“So what do I do?” Mr Goodrick said.

Jobseeker is increasing by $2.85 per day. Picture: David Geraghty/NCA NewsWireJobseeker is increasing by $2.85 per day. Picture: David Geraghty/NCA NewsWire

“Do I do the right thing to not be a supposed dole bludger and work five days a week for $850, or do I work the hours I’m working and get that little bit of a top up? I don’t actually have the energy to say, ‘Hey I’m off to work for 60 hours a week’, so we had to make a decision but that’s not supported, you’re seen as someone who’s bludging or taking advantage of the system.”

He insisted “we are poor and we are on low income”.

“There has been a proliferation of calling people on income support payments, particularly Jobseeker, dole bludgers,” Ms Searson said. “Anyone can end up in this situation.”

On Friday, The Daily Mail published paparazzi photos of the couple going about their “leisurely daily routine”.

Mr Goodrick “looked relaxed on Thursday as he surfaced at 10.15am at his family‘s luxury apartment block”, the publication wrote, before heading to a local cafe where he “spent a leisurely hour-and-a-half reading at a corner table before returning home”.

Ms Searson earlier that morning drove their daughter “to her $8375-year private school and was home again by 8.40am”.

In his budget speech on Tuesday, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the Jobseeker increase was all about “helping to deliver a much-needed $4.9 billion boost in support to around 1.1 million Australians looking for work, studying or doing apprenticeships”.

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Massive $1k increase to Centrelink paymentsGreens: budget ‘keeps people in poverty’

“The pressures on the budget are acute — but as a Labor government we will always strive to help those who need it the most,” he said.

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