Liberal MP Attacks Welfare Peak Body
9 September 2014 at 4:58 pm
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Parliamentary Secretary has launched a blistering attack on the welfare sector peak body ACOSS, saying it is “blind to the evidence of the dangers of dependency”.
Liberal politician Alan Tudge wrote an opinion piece for the Australian newspaper today calling on the Australian Council of Social Services to support the Government’s changes to the welfare system.
“It seems the only welfare change it seeks is an increase in the size of payments,” Tudge said.
“ACOSS may think it is being morally principled, but it fails to realise that while welfare is a safety net, it can also create dependency and misery.
“Indigenous communities have been most acutely hit by welfare dependency, but it can happen anywhere, sapping people of motivation and spirit.”
Tudge went on to say that ACOSS could not see the dangers of welfare dependency “because, to it, welfare is not a risk but an open-ended entitlement”.
“Welfare advocates who see welfare as simply one of the ways that people receive an income cannot comprehend the purpose of the government’s suggested waiting period for the dole or other reforms; waiting for the dole would form part of an incentives structure aimed at fostering social norms and values that reject reliance as a choice,” he said.
“Our objective is to instil in every young person that welfare is not an attractive option after school. The knowledge that it will not be possible to quit school, training or a job and get cash in the hand must be internalised.
“Consequently, we suggest the dole should not be immediately available for school-leavers. Rather, youth allowance will be available for those who want to improve their skills.”
But the Greens spokesperson on family and community services Senator Rachel Siewert jumped to the defence of ACOSS.
“The Government is taking the community sector to task, while at the same time pushing their unjustified cuts to income support and other social services onto the Australian public,” Siewert said.
“Clearly the Government is willing to attack organisations in the media, rather than listen to what they are saying. They are more interested in ideology than evidence from the real world. They have introduced radical and wide ranging policy changes without any meaningful consultation with the sector or without basing them on what actually works to help jobseekers and other vulnerable Australians.
“The sector knows far more than Mr Abbott and his colleagues about the pressure vulnerable people are under. When the sector speaks, the Government should be listening.”
ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie has responded to the criticism in the newspaper saying “rather than being resistant to welfare reform, ACOSS has long been a strong advocate for major reform of the social security system to streamline and simplify it and deliver greater consistency and fairness."