A couple who sparked outrage after appearing on national TV to complain about problems on Centrelink have been spotted going about their relaxed daily routine.
Mark Goodrick, a chef who said he doesn’t have the energy to work full-time, looked relaxed on Thursday as he surfaced at 10:15 a.m. enjoying a morning beer at his family’s luxury apartment building on the Sunshine Coast from Queensland.
After a 15-minute conversation with a neighbor, he then drove his Toyota HiLux ute – one of the family’s two cars – to a local café where he drank coffee and read at a corner table for an hour and a half before returning home.
Earlier that morning, his wife Jennifer Searson drove their 15-year-old daughter to her $8,375 private school and was back home by 8:40 a.m.
Mrs. Searson, a lab technician with a degree in educational support and business administration, receives a care allowance because her daughter has autism.
This qualifies her for a maximum base rate of $971.50 per two weeks.
Mr. Goodrick casually works at a gas station, earning about $1,300 every two weeks. In addition, he gets $250 from Centrelink, bringing his biweekly salary to nearly $1,600.
Neither has worked full-time since moving from Sydney in 2018 in search of a more affordable life.
Thursday morning at 8 a.m. Jennifer Searson took her 15-year-old daughter to her $8,375 private school
Mark Goodrick, a chef who said he doesn’t have the energy to work full-time, looked relaxed on Thursday as he enjoyed a morning beer and chat
Mr Goodrick left home at 10:30am and drove his Toyota HiLux, one of the family’s two cars, to a local cafe
Mr Goodrick enjoyed a cup of coffee and read his book for nearly two hours before going home in the afternoon
The couple appeared on ABC’s pre-Budget 7.30 program Monday night discussing the need to increase income support.
But their segment sparked controversy, with viewers noting that neither Mr. Goodrick nor Ms. Searson seemed intent on seeking full-time employment while also spending $350 a week on groceries for their family of three.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton has since called on Centrelink to crack down on benefit recipients who do not want to work.
“You have to help those who deserve it the most, and if you have a situation where people are disrupting the system or taking money out of the system… the money has to be spent wisely,” Dutton told 2GB. on Thursday.
“It’s not for people in a situation where they can get a job but refuse to take a job, that’s not what the system is about.
“If that’s the case then Centrelink should take action against people in those circumstances and suspend their pay and get them to take the job rather than living a relaxed lifestyle on other people’s tax dollars.”
On the ABC programme, Mr Goodrick appeared to admit that he preferred to work casually to receive Centrelink payments.
‘So what should I do? Am I doing the right thing about not being a supposedly dole bludger and working five days a week for $850, or am I working the hours I work and getting that little extra?” asked Mr Goodrick.
‘I don’t really have the energy to say ‘hey I’m going to work 60 hours a week’ so we had to make a decision. But that is not supported, you are seen as someone who is bluffing or abusing the system.’
The couple discussed the need for an increase in income support during the controversial 7:30am report and were mandated to be included in Tuesday night’s budget.
“We’re poor and we’re on low incomes,” Goodrick said.
“There’s been an increase in calls from people on income support, especially JobSeeker, dole bludgers,” Ms. Searson said.
Mr Goodrick said he and his wife were both ‘hard working’ but many companies were not looking for them due to their age.
Ms. Searson said she’s applied online three times this year for a part-time job at Big W but hasn’t heard back yet.
Mr Goodrick and Mrs Searson live in a posh apartment block on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, but have not worked full-time for five years
Mark Goodrick, a qualified chef, casually works at a gas station where he earns about $1,300 every two weeks and receives $250 from Centrelink
Ms. Searson, a lab technician with degrees in educational support and business administration, pays for a caregiver for her daughter who has autism
The following day, Treasurer Jim Chalmers announced a series of measures to benefit welfare recipients, with JobSeeker and Youth Allowance both increasing $40 every two weeks starting in September.
“We understand there will be those who say $40 every two weeks isn’t enough, there will be those who will say it’s too much,” Dr. Chalmers said.
“We think we’ve struck the right balance between what we can afford and taking into account the economic pressures in the economy.”
The ability to qualify for a higher rate from JobSeeker will also be reduced from 60 to 55, due to an increase in the number of older Australians on the payment.
Earlier this week, 2GB morning presenter Ray Hadley questioned why taxpayers should fund people who apparently don’t want to work.
He said he found it “offensive” that the Sunshine Coast couple complained about spending $350 a week on groceries, an amount that families with more children wouldn’t even spend.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton called on Centrelink to ‘take action’ and stop paying benefits to people who don’t want to work
Hadley also revealed that he found more than 230 roles available on the Sunshine Coast for cooks and chefs.
‘You don’t have the energy to work 60 hours a week, so we pay for it. We pay for your laziness,” Hadley said.
“If that’s the typical person on JobSeeker, I want my money back. I want a refund of part of my tax.
‘If I support those people and you work your ass off, we need a discount.
“We need our money back. I don’t want to help that couple.’
The report received an outpouring of backlash from people who questioned whether the pair was an accurate portrayal of struggling Australians.
“These people don’t have it nearly as hard as many people I know. Sure, they are fighters, but there are many single-parent families, so in times of financial hardship like this, the father may choose to temporarily sacrifice full-time work with a long commute,” one person said.
“I saw this and I thought this family actually seems to be doing well. Does well-being look like this?’ wondered another.