Government Resurrects Four Week Wait for Welfare
16 September 2015 at 12:07 pm
The Federal Government led by Malcolm Turnbull has reintroduced legislation into Parliament that would see young people refused income support for four weeks, just one week after the same measures were voted voted down in the Senate.
On Wednesday morning Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison, introduced the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Youth Employment) Bill.
Just last week the Bill, which would effect job seekers under the age of 25, was defeated in the Senate when it was voted 30 to 35.
Independent senators Nick Xenophon, Jacqui Lambie and Glenn Lazarus, along with the Palmer United Party’s Dio Wang and the Motoring Enthusiast Party's Ricky Muir, voted with Labor and the Greens to defeat the bill.
The Government argues that increasing the welfare waiting period to four weeks would create a saving of $241 million.
On the reintroduction of the Bill, Green’s Senator Rachel Siewert accused the Government of punishing young people who could not find work.
“Whether it be six months or five weeks, the community overwhelmingly does not accept that keeping young people off income support will help them gain employment. The Senate confirmed this sentiment by rejecting this same measure last week,” Siewert said.
“The Government should take the new leadership as an opportunity to change tack on supporting young unemployed people rather than pursuing a punitive approach that would entrench poverty.
“The jobs are simply not there for young people. There are viable alternatives that we must move towards, we are a caring society and can do better.”
Senator Siewert accused Turnbull of sticking to the same unpopular policies that Tony Abbott had attempted to introduce.
“It is extremely disappointing that Malcolm Turnbull shares Tony Abbott’s ambitions when it comes to demonising young people and pursuing a hugely unpopular measure that the community and Senate rejects,” she said.
“It is clear that when it comes to reducing unemployment and helping our most vulnerable the Coalition simply has a new leader but the same punitive policies.
“I urge Prime Minister Turnbull and Minister Morrison to stop flogging a dead horse that would make young people wait a total of five weeks for income support.”
Shadow Minister for Families and Payments, Jenny Macklin, said the Government’s welfare policy would push young people into “poverty and hardship”.
“Scott Morrison has still not got the message, reintroducing the cuts to young job seekers into the Parliament again today,” Macklin said.
“First the Abbott/Turnbull Government tried to cut income support for jobseekers under 30 for six months.
“Malcolm Turnbull needs to step up and immediately drop the Liberal Party’s unfair cuts to young jobseekers.”
In August, Group Manager of Payments Policy at the Department of Social Service, Cath Halbert, conceded at a Senate Committee hearing that Government's the policy was not based on any international evidence.
“The Government’s view is that young people should be encouraged to look for work in the first instance rather than turning to income support,” Halbert said.
“[The] Government’s objective in bringing forward this proposal around the waiting period is to send a very strong message to young people, young job ready people who are able to immediately look for work, that that’s what they should be doing in the first instance rather than relying on income support while they’re undertaking those activities. It’s a policy objective.
“We don’t have evidence that’s directly comparable to this particular policy, which of course has not yet been implemented.”