The ACTU is demanding Malcolm Turnbull and Michaelia Cash answer mounting questions relating to the PaTH internship program, unveiled in Tuesday’s budget.

Unions are concerned PaTH poses a serious risk to young people and inexperienced workers, and could also undermine Australia’s entire wage system with interns earning only $4 an hour.

The Employment Minister this morning stated that businesses seeking to employ an intern under the program must have a “real vacancy”- amounting to a confession that PaTH internships will replace fully paid, legitimate jobs.

Interns Australia also have research that suggest less than one in five interns are offered a job at the end of a typical internship. But with PaTH offering a $1,000 incentive to employers for simply putting on a new intern, the churn rate under this scheme could be even higher.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney: 

“This internship scheme has clearly not been properly thought through and is now starting to unravel.”

“The Turnbull Government has serious questions to answer regarding the legality, safeguards and intention of the PaTH scheme as well as whether or not job seekers will be forced to participate.”

“It is particularly concerning that the Employment Minister is saying business must demonstrate a ‘real vacancy’ exists before putting on a PaTH intern.”

“This lays bare their intention to undermine the foundations of our wage and employment systems by allowing employers to access a pool of free labour rather than offering proper wages and conditions.”

“Youth unemployment is an issue that must be addressed, but we need real investment in training, apprenticeships and education – not a hastily cobbled together free labour supply scheme for big business.”


Media contact: Ben Jessup 0410 632 123  

Key facts:

– Newstart allowance for a single person with no children is currently $527.60 per fortnight.  

– If the recipient works a PaTH internship for 25 hours a week, they only receive an extra $200 per fortnight ($4 an hour worked), meaning they receive $363.80 per week in total.  

– The minimum wage is currently $17.29 per hour, saving business a total of $432.25 for 25 hours work per week per employee.

– PaTH participants would receive $68.45 per week below the minimum wage as well as missing out on other important conditions like sick leave, superannuation and penalty rates.

– ABS figures released in March put current job vacancies nationally at around 172,900 while also reporting that 737,300 people are looking for work.