The minister responsible for welfare payments is encouraging unemployed people to dip their toe in the jobs market as she prepares to cut JobSeeker by $100 a fortnight.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston has again suggested inflated dole payments are discouraging people from seeking work, despite there being 12 applicants for every job vacancy.
"We really want to encourage Australians to put their toe in the water and test their opportunity in the jobs market," Senator Ruston told the ABC on Wednesday.
"But at the same time, we'll continue elevated levels of support from January through March recognising the jobs market is still shallow."
Senator Ruston pointed to surveys from the National Skills Commission and small business lobby to back up her claim that employers are struggling to fill vacancies.
But other studies have shown at least a dozen people are applying for each available job.
"We understand that this is not a blanket one size across the whole of the country," the minister said.
"There are places around the country where we're seeing employers struggling to get workers, but we equally have places around the country where people who want jobs are struggling to get them."
The maximum JobSeeker rate for single people with no children will fall to $715 a fortnight from January 1.
If the coronavirus supplement is abolished altogether at the end of March, the dole will return to the pre-pandemic rate of $40 a day.
Senator Ruston refused to say whether the jobless payment would return to that rate, which welfare organisations, business groups and economists have argued is far too low.
"At the moment we're very focused on the here and now," she said.
"Decisions about what happens after the end of March are a matter once we have a better understanding about what's happening around the country and the economic conditions and the labour market."