Labor wants to slash Australia’s unemployment benefit payments by more than $2 billion, with the changes expected to come into effect in the coming weeks.
The Coalition’s policy would cut the payments by $1 billion.
The changes are likely to be introduced as part of the latest round of budget measures by the Abbott government, which will take effect in July.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said Labor was “shocked” at the Coalition’s plans, which were “an absolute disgrace”.
“They want to cut Australia’s workforce, and we’ve got a massive unemployment crisis in this country,” he said.
“The Coalition’s budget cuts will be a disaster for millions of Australians.”
But he warned the government’s plan to cut benefits would not be “a simple one”.
“There’s not a lot of easy answers to this problem, but it’s certainly not going to be easy to find a silver bullet,” he told ABC radio.
It’s going be a significant cost.” “
It’s going to come with a cost.
It’s going be a significant cost.”
Shorten, who is the Coalition party’s leader, said Labor had raised the issue of the Coalition cutting unemployment benefits at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
“What we’re saying is that if we don’t get these benefits in the next three months, you can expect the Coalition to be back in the black,” he added.
“I think we should be worried about it, and not only that, but if we have to wait a little longer to get those benefits, we have a responsibility to our people to be prepared.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Work, Pensions and Employment said it would work with the Coalition and other interested parties to “work through the details of the proposal”.
The spokeswoman said the changes were “still subject to review and consideration”.
The proposed changes to the unemployment benefit system will be included in the budget legislation due to be debated at the Senate later this week.
Labor’s leader Bill English said the Coalition was not in the “business of cutting benefits”.
“The Labor Party is calling on the government to keep unemployment benefits, to keep our current benefits system, and to ensure that people who need them have access to them,” he tweeted.
“No jobs for people who don’t have jobs.”