Parties Wrong on Welfare Quarantining – Welfare Rights Centre
Wednesday, 28th July 2010 at 3:13 pm
The ALP and the Coalition need to re-think their support for income management and develop workable policies to lift Australians out of welfare and into employment, according to the Welfare Rights Centre.
The claim comes in response to statements by Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott that a Coalition Government would consider extending compulsory income management to every long term unemployed person in Australia.
The Director of the Welfare Rights Centre, Maree O’Halloran says Australia’s welfare system needs reforms to make income support fairer and more responsive to individuals and families doing it tough.
O'Halloran says income management is a flawed answer to a very complex issue.
Labor's extended income management across the Northern Territory began on 1 July 2010, affecting 20,000 recipients and costing $410 million over five years.
O'Halloran says despite the high administrative costs, the Coalition is considering extending welfare quarantining to almost 18 times as many people.
She says this massive waste of finite resources will fund a mini-bureaucracy to micro-manage people’s daily spending.
She says the costs of the Coalition’s proposal is simply breathtaking, with a price tag of over $7 billion and the funds wasted on income management would be better spent increasing the rate of Newstart Allowance by $45 a week.
The Welfare Rights Centre says the approach taken by both parties will actually reduce the capacity of people to learn the financial management skills necessary for a person to become independent and self-reliant.
The Welfare Rights Centre has called on all parties to consider policies that offer practical support to unemployed people by:
- repealing the compulsory income management laws in the Northern Territory;
- reducing poverty and increasing Newstart Allowance by $45 a week;
- redirecting the funds earmarked for administering income management to programs to support highly disadvantaged people cope with addictions and address personal crisis and other barriers to employment; and,
- introducing a national program of paid work experience.